Counselors Mixed on Which College Entrance Exam Students Should Take

High school counselors are all over the map in the advice they expect to give students about which college admissions exam to take in the next school year. About a third said they anticipate telling students to take more than one exam; far fewer are recommending taking a single test.

The question has come up because the College Board is rolling out a new SAT test for the first time in 11 years. The revised exam will be introduced in March 2016. As a result, students scheduled to graduate in 2017 may choose to take the current SAT earlier than March or the new one or the ACT, an alternative exam.

According to a survey done by Kaplan, a company that provides test preparation products, 6 percent of advisors are telling students to take the current version of the SAT early to avoid the changes. A similar proportion is suggesting that students tackle the new SAT exam. And 16 percent are advising students to take the ACT instead. The remaining percentage says the SAT changes make no difference in the advice they're giving to students.

The survey was done to understand how the changes are affecting what the counselors tell their students. It was done in March and April 2015 and analyzed responses from 172 high school counselors from across the United States.

Those who are advising students to take more than one exam said they are using that strategy because the results will help the students optimize their opportunities to get into the colleges or universities of their choice.

"Our view is that students will increase their competitive advantage by taking more than one test," said Michael Boothroyd, a business development director for Kaplan. "The class of 2017 has the unique opportunity of taking the current version of the SAT this fall, then also seeing how they'd perform on the new SAT in March, plus also having the option of taking the ACT. As long as they plan ahead for it, this year's sophomores have a one-time college application advantage of selecting their best score from three different admissions tests."

An earlier Kaplan survey found that nearly four in five admissions officers supported the new SAT changes.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.