Students/Parents to whom this post does NOT apply:
- Those in private schools, which do not administer the free SAT on March 21, this year’s date for the CT state public high school assessment test. (The CT Dept of Education replaced the old state assessment test with the redesigned SAT last year.)
- Those who know based on prior exam results that they will be sending ACT scores not SAT scores to colleges or applying only to test optional colleges.
- Those who already have an SAT score that is good enough to get into all the schools on their list (according to Naviance or colleges’ profile stats).
For every other junior in CT, I strongly recommend you take TWO SATs in March: one on 3/10, administered by the College Board at its usual test centers and for which you need to register (and pay for) yourself, and the freebee on 3/21, administered by the state at your public school and for which you do not need to register.
I know what you’re thinking: this guy’s a little test-happy and this is an extreme and torturous recommendation even in our competitive, test-happy culture; frankly, I’m not even sure I want to read the rest of this post. I get that, and I would’ve thought the same thing back in the day, but like you, I’d’ve been wrong. I’m very confident that if you DO finish this post, you’ll be convinced.
Before I get to my concrete reasons, let me offer an analogy that should make it intuitively obvious why this is good advice. Say one of your teachers marches into class next week and announces the following:
“I made a decision about your final exam. Instead of offering you one exam date in June, I’m going to offer two, 11 days apart, and while they won’t be the same test, they’ll be very similar. It’s your choice whether to take one or the other or both. If you take one or the other, whatever you get on it goes in the book/PowerSchool/etc. If you take both, I’ll not only count the higher of the two scores, I’ll also mix and match your better individual sections on each exam to give you an overall ‘super score.’”
Because finals count so much toward your final grade in each course, only complete stoners or those who aspire to spend their careers asking people if they want fries with that wouldn’t take both, right? The only real difference between this analogy and the two SATs in March is that your SAT score counts a lot more than any one (or two or three) final exams. Personally, as an educator, I don’t like it, but that’s a cold hard fact. If my analogy doesn’t work for you, here are six concrete reasons why I’m pushing two SATs in March:
- If you’re preparing properly for the free SAT on 3/21 anyway, you absolutely should take a full-length practice test simulating the actual test experience as closely as possible a week or two beforehand. The 3/10 SAT is right on time and there’s no simulation like the real thing.
- If you happen to do better on 3/10 than on 3/21, for whatever reason, it can count!
- The optional Essay section on the 3/21 exam is NOT included, nor can you pay to have it included. That means if you’re applying to even one school that requires an Essay score, you’ll have to take another SAT anyway.
- If you’re investing in a private tutor or class, you get twice the bang for your buck since the two dates are so close together (the next SAT after March is in May, when some of your learning gains from prep in March will have worn off).
- In general, the more SATs students take, the higher their scores go.
- There is no downside since you don’t have to report any scores you don’t want to report.
Good luck, juniors. You do have my unmitigated sympathy. The hardest working year of high school is already more than half-way behind you. Down the stretch don’t forget, we’re here to help 🤓. <<<<<