August SAT starting in 2017

College Board has released the anticipated SAT test dates for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 calendar years, and, with little fanfare or notice, it appears that they intend to phase out the January SAT test date by 2018. Let’s take a look at the respective test dates for 2016-2017, 2017-2018, and 2018-2019.

2016 2017 test dates2017 2018 test dates2018 20198 test dates

(SOURCE: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/dates-deadlines)

If you read through the test dates above, you can see that the January SAT test date will be replaced with a new test date in August. Specifically, in 2017 College Board will offer both a January and an August test; in 2018, and presumably going forward, College Board will offer a test date in August but not January.

At this point, you may be asking yourself, why is this significant?

If you follow education trends, you may know that two years ago the ACT supplanted the SAT as the most frequently taken college entrance exam. From a big picture perspective, this change in available test dates represents yet another savvy decision by College Board in their effort to recapture their status as the number one college admission exam.  Historically, the ACT has done very well with its September test, with that exam being popular among high school seniors scrambling to take one last standardized admission test before the early application deadlines come up. By moving the January test date to August, College Board should now compete more effectively with the ACT for high school seniors who waited to prepare for standardized entrance exams.

From a more micro perspective, in terms of how this change might affect you – the test taker, or the parent of a test taker – this is actually good news. Regardless of the large-scale significance of College Board’s aggressive attempts to recapture their lost market share, which reportedly includes everything from inflating PSAT percentile ranking to underbidding the ACT on state-level contracts, having one more test available in the fall should allow for more flexibility in planning your college admission timeline and test preparation.

One other interesting note: college application deadlines are implicitly determined by the national college admission test dates. A change in the available test dates may result in a change in the early application or regular application dates. In that regard, we’ll just have to wait and see; this is a recent announcement that won’t take effect for a couple of years, so it’s too early to make assumptions about how the deadlines might change, but that is certainly something to watch out for.

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