In December of 2015, the Illinois Board of Education announced that beginning in 2016 the state would begin using the new, redesigned SAT as the state’s official exam. This signaled a major shift; for decades Illinois had been known as an ACT state. But what does this shift actually mean for students, parents, high schools, and colleges?
For current high school juniors, this is a year of transition between the ACT and SAT. The most important piece of information you need to know is this: ALL COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES ACCEPT EITHER THE ACT OR SAT FOR ADMISSION PURPOSES. In other words, if you’re currently taking a prep class for the ACT, keep going. The ACT is typically seen as the better test to measure the exact skills students have been learning in school. The SAT is now more like the ACT, but the new SAT is still unproven. It will take a year or so before the new SAT scores are easily understood by colleges and universities. Of course, if you’re currently taking an SAT prep class, that is fine too. Keep going. Remember, all colleges and universities will accept either an ACT or SAT for admission purposes!
Timing and funding for the new SAT in Illinois are other major issues. While the state signed a contract with The College Board (the company that owns the SAT), there is actually no current state funding to support this decision. This has left many schools and districts between a rock and hard place. Most high schools have decided to take care of this problem on their own. They are sticking with the ACT for 2016 and paying for each of their students to take it. However, a handful of schools are opting to give the SAT, but not many. Also, because this decision came in the middle of the school year, many Illinois high schools have decided that they will NOT offer the new SAT in 2016; instead, they will pay for each student to take the ACT – the traditional test of Illinois. Again, no worries; whichever test you are preparing for and taking is fine. And just because your high school might be offering a free ACT or a free SAT does not mean you cannot register for and take the other exam at your own expense. The following school year, 2017, will be a totally different story: most likely, in 2017, all Illinois public high schools will offer a free SAT.
As always, we are ready to help. Our ACT Success and SAT Success test prep programs are designed to maximize student’s scores. Each program covers the exact academic and test taking skills needed for maximum success. We even have a brief Diagnostic exam that will help you determine which of the two tests might be the better exam for your learning and test-taking style. Call soon to set up your test prep program!