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So what about the new SAT?

What will new SAT prep books look like?
What will new SAT prep books look like?
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The College Board recently announced it was making changes to the format of the SAT. The changes are significant, including new question types, the elimination of the 1/4 point penalty for wrong answers, and the essay becoming optional. These modifications will not affect students taking the SAT in coming months, so rising juniors need not worry this will impact their testing schedule. However, rising sophomores will get the brunt of the uncertainty. If this is you, here's a few pointers:

  • Your junior year PSAT will likely follow the new format. In the past, the College Board has used the PSAT as a test-run of changes. For most students, the PSAT will provide a useful glimpse into what to expect on the official test. But if you are among those hoping to earn National Merit recognition, you're in a tough spot! My best advice is to sign up for email updates from the College Board. You'll at least have the most current information on what the new test looks like.
  • Remember you have options! Many students will take the ACT instead, and avoid the chaos of the SAT entirely. The ACT is a known quantity, and it's in your best interest to avoid the unknown. While the ACT is piloting a computer-based test, there should be no significant changes to the general test format in the near future.
  • The word on the street among SAT pros is that the new version of the test might be easier that the current one. If your PSAT scores are encouraging, go ahead and give the new test a whirl. You always have the ACT as a fall-back if necessary.

The take home is just to remember there's no need to panic. You'll still be headed to college in a few years. Good luck!