Open letter to the Parents and Students of the Class of 2017

Dear Parents and Students of the Class of 2017,

Did you hear the good news? You have been chosen as the guinea pigs for the “new” SAT. This “new” SAT will be unleashed upon the world (read: first administered) in March 2016. So the timeline for your graduating class as far as the best times to take the SAT will be different for your grade than for every other grade. You will be the only group who can take both the “current” SAT and the “new” SAT in your 11th grade year. So here is what I would do if I were you. Or parents, here is what I would do if I had a child in the Class of 2017 (my kids are in the Class of 2027! By then, we will probably have a new, new SAT.)

Consider taking the “current” SAT in both December and January of your junior year

You will want to take the current SAT at least once. You may score higher on the current SAT. Also, it is likely that the new SAT will be more difficult than the current SAT. If so, the curve will be more generous. But either way, you will want to take the current SAT once. So definitely take the January SAT, which will be the last time the current SAT is given. Order the Question and Answer Service. Ordering this service means the College Board will send you the full test with questions and your answers so you can actually see the questions you got wrong, review them, and not miss similar questions on your next SAT. So January is a definite. And you may want to take the December SAT to give yourself two cracks at the current SAT. This would make even more sense if, like many students, you do some SAT preparation in the summer, before the craziness of the school year begins.Graduation-Thumb

Skip the first “new” SAT (the March 2016 test date)

I think this test will have a few hiccups. Sit this one out let them work the kinks out; gear up for the May SAT. Traditionally, the March SAT doesn’t offer the Question and Answer Service anyway. The May SAT does. So I would recommend skipping the March SAT and taking the May SAT and ordering the Question and Answer Service so again you can learn from your mistakes. Then I would recommend skipping the June SAT while you wait to get back the May Q and A Service.

Take the ACT

Every year, I recommend that every student take both the SAT and ACT once. Colleges are giving you two chances to be successful. You might as well take advantage of both chances.Some students score higher on the ACT. You may be one of those students. This way you can sit down in the summer before your senior year and make an intelligent decision about which, if either, test to take. You should not have to take both the SAT and ACT the fall of your senior year. Only take the one that you scored higher on.


Turn “being the guinea pigs” to your advantage. Prepare and take both the current and new SAT (and ACT) and use whichever test you score best on. Also, colleges will likely be very lenient as far as how many times you take the exams. So if you have to take the test a fourth or fifth time to give yourself a better chance at one of your dream schools or to put you in line for a more financial aid or scholarship money, don’t worry that colleges will frown upon how many times you took these exams.


Tom Ehlers

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