Today is part 2 of Lauren Gaggioli's post about the new SAT and ACT. If you missed the first part, you can find it here.
The Three Elephants In The Room
First of all, I want to dispel the Common Core myth right now. While, yes, many of the questions and scoring elements are interdisciplinary (i.e. Common Core-ish) in nature, a math problem is a math problem, punctuation rules are clear, and strong readers will have an advantage no matter when or how they learned to read.
When it comes to any standardized test, nothing can replace a firm academic foundation. If students have learned well, they will be well-ahead of their under-prepared peers when it comes time to test.
Sub-Par Prep Materials
While ACT’s official prep materials leave a lot to be desired and College Board’s materials for the new SAT are completely untested (literally), you can offset this fact by making sure that you are getting your information from someone who studies the craft of test prep.
For instance, I still take the ACT once or twice a year and build the new strategies I develop based on those experiences into my prep courses.
I also won’t teach a test I haven’t taken because I can’t ensure that my strategies will work in the actual testing room. Since the new SAT hasn’t been given yet, I won’t be teaching it until I’ve taken the test and proven that my strategies will work.
Test Optional Colleges
Before you opt out of testing altogether, take a moment to consider what you may be giving up by doing so.
There are millions of dollars available for free via merit-based aid and private scholarships.
What’s the key to the free money vault?
In most cases, your test score (either the ACT or SAT) and your G.P.A.
Make sure you’re 100% comfortable with giving up that opportunity before you walk away from testing entirely.
When Should You Test?
Before we get into specifics, I want to make sure I’m really clear that this is a very personal decision. Each family is unique. Every student has different strengths, weaknesses, and college goals.
My rule of thumb in any year, not just a year of change, is that students should have a score that they are proud of by June of their junior year.
This gives students the summer before senior year to create a college list that is realistic and can include merit aid and scholarship considerations as a part of the discussion while relying on actual data.
Students without scores may have inflated expectations of themselves when it comes to testing. That can lead to disappointment, embarrassment, and stress during the application period when it’s important that students can be upbeat about the qualities they will bring to a campus.
It’s hard to make that work well if you feel like Eeyore because of your ACT or SAT score.
Which Test Should You Take?
In the 2015-2016 school year, I’m advising all juniors to take the ACT and avoid the new SAT.
Next summer, I will have much more information to share about the new SAT that is based in fact and not reliant upon the marketing material that College Board is pumping out.
While there are challenges with the ACT, working with someone who knows about the issues with the exam will ensure that your student can be prepared to do well on this improved test.
At this point, the ACT is the best option for students in the Class of 2017.
What’s best for the younger classes remains to be seen, but I promise to continue to share what I learn on my site: higherscorestestprep.com.
If you’d like to keep in touch, come on over and join my email list. I’ll be sure to keep you up to date on everything in the testing world.
Thanks, Lauren! It's nice to know that you continue to take the test so you can help your students.
If you have any questions or comments for Lauren, you can leave them below.