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Should You Take the August SAT?

The College Board is reintroducing the August SAT date this year, and the deadline to register is fast approaching on July 28. Rising juniors and seniors have some time to decide whether or not they want to take the SAT in August, but there are many benefits and drawbacks to consider before registering for the late summer test date.

Why the new SAT offering?
According to the College Board, the August SAT date was added after receiving feedback from teachers, parents, students, and more. The goal is to offer students an opportunity to prepare for the exam over the summer, and get their testing out of the way so they can focus on college applications, coursework, and more during the fall of senior year.

In order to accommodate the August date, the College Board is no longer offering the January administration. While the timing of the August SAT test date is more in line with the college prep and application process, it might not be the best fit for every student.

Who should consider taking the August SAT?
For certain groups of students, an August SAT administration can be very beneficial. Not only can it help rising seniors complete their testing before the start of the school year, it can also help rising juniors kick off their testing season during a less stressful time of year. Here are some students who should consider preparing for the August SAT.

  • Students planning to apply early decision or early action: Not only should these students be getting a head start on their college applications, they should also have their testing either completed or plan to complete it before the early deadlines in October and November. If you plan to apply early decision or early action to your top-choice college, chances are your test scores are already strong, and you may want another opportunity to improve before applying in the fall. The August SAT date can be a good opportunity, as you’ll have the summer to prep in between working on college applications. This can help you complete your testing even earlier than planned, setting you up for a strong early application should you reach your goal score.
  • Rising seniors who need to improve upon their June or earlier SAT scores: Again, completing testing ahead of the start of senior year can take a lot of pressure off those applying to college this fall. If you’re a rising senior and you’re looking to improve on your previous SAT score, the August date can be a great opportunity as it’s close to when you took the test last, so the content is still fresh, and allows you to continue prep, uninterrupted, through June and July.
  • Rising juniors who have started test prep: Taking the SAT late in the summer, after dedicating some time during the break to test prep, can be a less stressful option for rising juniors who are ready to get started on their testing. Without the added pressure of school activities, classes, and other schoolwork, rising juniors are able to focus on the SAT and go into the testing season strong.

Who should hold off on registering for the August SAT?
While there are many students who can benefit from an August SAT administration, it might not be a great fit for other students. Here are some students who should take some time to evaluate their testing schedule before registering for the August SAT date.

  • Rising juniors or seniors who are not prepared: The idea of getting testing out of the way before the school year is in full swing can be appealing, but it’s not a good idea if you’re not prepared. Students should only go into the SAT or ACT if they’re really ready, and rushing to start or complete your testing before you’re fully prepared can do more harm than good. If you’re preparing for the August SAT and find you’re not seeing the gains you’d like by the time you need to register, take some time to reevaluate your test prep plan and make adjustments – which can include pushing back your testing timeline.
  • Students who have taken the SAT three or more times: This new test date might seem like an “extra” offering for some students who have already taken the SAT a number of times and want just one more chance to improve. Scores tend to plateau after the third time students take the exam, so if you have already taken the SAT three or more times, your chances of a dramatic score increase are slim. These students should examine their current scores and decide whether other options like the ACT, or applying to test optional or test flexible colleges, is a more effective application strategy.
  • Students who cannot devote any time to test prep over the summer: At IvyWise we always say: “Never go into a test unprepared.” Many students may go into the summer with plans to focus on test prep, then by late June they want to spend more time on their summer activities than actually preparing for the SAT. If you don’t plan to participate in test prep over the break, don’t sign up for the August SAT thinking you can prep one or two weeks before.
  • Rising sophomores: While it’s wise for sophomores to start thinking about the SAT or ACT, most are not ready to take these tests until the summer after sophomore year. The SAT Math section covers content that is learned, typically, by the end of 10th grade, so testing should be done once students have completed that portion of their curricula. High-achieving and eager students might want to try their hand with an August SAT just to see how they’ll do, but this isn’t the way to gauge your abilities or where you need to improve. Instead, a diagnostic or practice test, not the official exam where scores would be reported, is the best way to see how you would do on the SAT initially. Rising sophomores can instead spend the summer doing their research on both the SAT and ACT, learning about subject tests, and developing a test prep timeline for the next school year. Rising sophomores can instead spend the summer doing their research on both the SAT and ACT, learning about subject tests, and developing a test prep timeline for the next school year.

The August SAT administration can be a great opportunity for students ready and eager to complete or begin their testing before the start of the school year, but it’s important for students to be deliberate and thoughtful when preparing for any college entrance exam, whether it’s the August SAT or a different administration date. Taking time to assess your abilities, goal score, and time needed for test prep is an important step toward developing a rewarding and effective test prep plan.

 

Need help preparing for the August SAT? Contact us today for more information on our test prep programs, including our diagnostic tests that can help students understand where their abilities are and what they need to do in order to improve.