High school juniors in the United States have a very interesting year of testing options ahead of them. There are a total of four major tests that students will have the opportunity to take: the Digital PSAT, the Paper SAT, the ACT, and the Digital SAT. Who should focus on which of these different types of tests?

Digital PSAT: Administered in the month of October through a student’s high school. Students who are trying to earn National Merit recognition should prepare for this exam. National Merit recognition generally applies to students who score in the 95th percentile or above, and National Merit Scholarships usually go to students who score above the 99th percentile. For students who do not think that a National Merit award is in reach, taking the Digital PSAT is still an excellent way to try the adaptive, digital format they will find on the Digital SAT. Scores for the Digital PSAT will be back in November, so students will have plenty of time to review their PSAT results to prepare for the Digital SAT in the spring.

Paper SAT: Administered in August, October, November, and December of 2023. After these administrations, the current paper SAT will be retired and replaced with a Digital SAT. For students who want to take advantage of the expansive body of existing practice tests and review books, taking the paper SAT before it goes away is a good idea. Results from the paper SAT will still be fully utilized by colleges, so students would have nothing to lose by giving the paper SAT a try before they no longer have the opportunity to do so.

ACT: Administered throughout 2023-2024. In general, students who are faster test takers like the ACT. This is a good test to take if you have taken through Algebra 2 and a bit of pre-calculus. The ACT covers more math material than the Digital SAT: logarithms, matrices, hyperbolas/ellipses, and combinations/permutations. It also has a broader array of grammar concepts than does the Digital SAT: wordiness, idioms, diction, and sentence placement. Fortunately, students who want to take the ACT can use many excellent books and practice tests to prepare for this well-established test.

Digital SAT: Administered in the United States beginning in March, 2024 and continuing thereafter. The Digital SAT will be offered on national test dates, and many schools will offer it during the school day given the relatively short amount of time that taking the Digital SAT requires. Students will have their Digital PSAT results back in November of 2023 so they can evaluate whether the Digital SAT is a good fit for them. There is a great deal of overlap in the content between the ACT and Digital SAT, so if students wish to switch from one test to the other, it should be fairly seamless.

Please contact us if we can advise you as to the best testing plan for this upcoming school year.

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