Results from the October PSAT should be delivered any day now. Unfortunately, interpreting scores is going to be a challenge for everyone involved.
As you know, this PSAT was based on College Board’s revised SAT format. That means no more sentence completions in Reading, more traditional grammar in Writing, the introduction of a ‘no calculator’ section in Math, no more negative scoring for incorrect answers, along with many other more subtle changes. The scoring is now based on the familiar 1600 scale (for the SAT, on the PSAT the maximum score this year is 1520).
The first SAT under this new format will be administered March 5. The next test is May 7. Because this is the first sitting under the revised format, the March scores will not be released until late May or possibly early June, likely at approximately the same time as the May scores.
For current juniors, this adds a great deal of uncertainty to the test-taking process and makes focusing on the SATs a risky proposition this year.
Parents, students, counselors and even college admissions directors will have a challenging time processing these new scores. The delayed March score release date further complicates the decision on which test(s) to take and when.
As a result, Crawford Academics is advising most juniors to strongly consider focusing on the ACT.
We have relative certainty on test format/scoring and a longer ‘runway’ with which to work (Feb/April/June/Sept/Oct test dates). This will give students the time they need to fully prepare for the ACTs, with the added bonus of actually knowing how scores will be determined.
The ACT is definitely not for everyone. With its time constraints, handful of more advanced math questions and unique science section, the standardized test can seem daunting to those familiar with the classic SAT model. But regardless of their reservations, all juniors should sit through a mock ACT and have a meaningful diagnostic analysis performed to see how this test fits their current knowledge base and their learning style.
Crawford Academics can compare results on the ACT to a student’s PSAT score, choose a test and work on a plan to improve their performance.
As we see it, there are a couple advantages to the revised SAT. One is fewer questions than the ACT. Generally there is less time pressure, which can significantly reduce anxiety for some students. Another advantage is that the Reading/Writing SAT is now much more like the ACT. This means that ACT preparation done sooner rather than later will also benefit your student if they decide to sit for the revised SAT. That means that a dedicated student can benefit from this studying technique, regardless of which test they ultimately choose to take.
Remember, the Crawford Academics preferred strategy is to choose one test to focus on. Plan on taking that primary test two or three times. By all means a student should take one swing at the other, secondary test before they begin sending those applications in.
By studying the options, the test format, and having a solid support system of parents and advisors, students can step into the ACT or the new SATs (or both) with the confidence and skills they need to succeed.