If you’re a high school student, the parent of a high school student, or otherwise plugged into the world of standardized testing, you’ve probably heard about the new August SAT that will be administered this year. Bowing to popular demand, the College Board has finally decided to give students the option of taking the SAT over the summer. The total number of SAT dates each year will stay the same, though – starting in 2018 there will no longer be a January SAT date.
The official August SAT date will be August 26, 2017. The registration deadline for this test is July 28. You can register for the August SAT at the College Board’s website. Please note that it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and register for this test right now if you’re considering taking it. Many students, especially in the competitive Bay Area, are interested in trying the new August SAT, and due to the summer testing date, fewer testing sites will be available.
This issue of limited space appears to be especially acute for test-takers with accommodations for learning differences. Many of those testing spots across the Bay Area are already full. If you have accommodations for the SAT and you haven’t registered for the August test yet, do so immediately (or plan on driving a ways to find an open testing site).
Now, onto the question we’ve been getting from many AJ Tutoring students and parents – should I take the August SAT? A few thoughts:
What year are you in high school?
If you’re a rising senior, the August SAT might be a great option for you. Many rising seniors have already taken the SAT at least once during the spring of their junior year. The August SAT is a great time for a retake, since for most students it comes before the beginning of the school year (and fall of senior year tends to be quite busy). The August test date gives you a little wiggle room to retake the SAT in October if needed and still get SAT scores in plenty of time for college applications. It also gives you the option of taking the SAT in August and SAT subject tests in October, since those must be taken on different test dates.
The more difficult decision is whether a rising junior should take the August SAT. With good intentions, many parents want their student to get the SAT out of the way before junior year starts. For many students, junior year is the toughest year of high school with the most demands on their time, and it seems like a good idea to finish standardized testing before junior year gets into full swing. However, in our experience, the vast majority of students will get their best score on an SAT taken in the spring of their junior year (at the earliest). There’s nothing wrong with taking the August SAT as a rising junior, as long as you’re open to retaking the test later in junior year.
The August SAT may also be a good option for recruited athletes and other students who may need an SAT score earlier than normal.
How much time can you devote to SAT prep this summer?
Again, good intentions reign. Staring down the barrel of a busy May and June, many students vow to throw their energy into SAT prep over the summer with an eye toward taking the August SAT. For many students, this plan will work well – they’ll be able to focus on preparing for the SAT over the summer with minimal distractions from school and sports.
However, students should be brutally honest with themselves when deciding whether to take the August SAT. If you have a month-long vacation planned for July, an intense summer class, or a full-time summer job – or if you’re simply the kind of person who finds it hard to get motivated for SAT prep when you could be hanging out in Santa Cruz with your friends – the August SAT may not be the best choice for you. Of course, you can always take the SAT in August with minimal prep over the summer, but just keep in mind that you may want to retake the test in October if you don’t get the score you’re looking for.
How does SAT tutoring fit into your summer schedule?
If you choose to prepare for the SAT with an AJ tutor (and we hope you do!), you can expect to complete nine 1.5-hour sessions leading up to the August 26 test date. If you start tutoring after school is out, this generally means meeting about once per week throughout June, July and August. We also ask our SAT prep students to complete at least 3 full-length practice SATs, preferably proctored at our office on Saturday mornings. You can find our complete schedule of proctored practice SATs on our website.
If you’ve already worked with us for SAT or ACT prep, we can usually shorten your prep for an SAT retake. Students will often complete four 1.5-hour sessions in preparation for retaking the SAT. You should also plan on taking 2 full-length practice SATs on the weekends. During the retake prep, your SAT tutor will focus more closely on your areas of difficulty from the last SAT and work on fine-tuning your approach to the test.
In general, we think that the introduction of an August SAT date is a great move by the College Board to give students more options. Most rising seniors should at least consider taking the SAT in August.
Interested in more information about the August 2017 SAT, or still not sure whether this test is right for you? Just fill out a consultation request or give us a call at (650) 331-3251. We’d love to talk through your SAT testing plan!