For some students, taking SAT Subject Tests in May, followed by the SAT in June, is better than the more traditional strategy of taking the SAT in May and Subject Tests in June. There is some history to suggest that the June SAT is often easier than SATs given on different dates. This strategy is not right for every student, but for some it could result in better overall test scores.
Could this urban myth actually be true?
To arrive at the answer to this question, all one has to do is think logically about the following facts:
- The SAT contains what the College Board refers to as an “equating section.” Some students and test prep professionals refer to this as “the experimental section.” The SAT on any particular date is scaled up or down based on the results of that section. If you give two different groups of students statistically similar tests, results will vary based on the relative testing ability level of those two groups of students. That is the theory put into practice by the College Board.
- In June, most students who are applying to the top colleges in America (those that require several SAT Subject Tests) are taking SAT Subject Tests, not the SAT. With the top 10% of potentially high-scoring SAT test takers otherwise occupied, scaling of the SAT would, of course, be lower. However, this lower scale could easily be identified by anyone doing even the most basic statistical research.
To arrive at the truth about the June SAT, the next step is to place yourself in the shoes of The College Board and Educational Testing Service (ETS). Something had to be done. What would you do in order to keep the SAT test scale consistent while accounting for the fact that all your top test-taker are out of the mix? The answer is simple: you would make the test easier. That, in turn, is a very simple task indeed.
Whether you agree or disagree, you now know the source of this urban legend. Prior to founding Chyten Premier Tutors and Test Preparation, I had tutored nearly 1000 students and found June results consistently higher than those of other months. While other factors could account for this, I have long stated that the June SAT is easier than others. Further, I believe that this is most apparent in the critical reading section.
So, for many students, taking the SAT Subject Tests in May and the SAT in June is a better strategy. However, this strategy is not right for everyone due to personal schedules and an individual’s readiness for Subject Tests in May.
If you are not taking Subject Tests, I strongly recommend that you take the SAT in both May and June. With super scoring, most colleges take the highest combination of SAT Reading, Writing and Math scores earned over as many times as you take the test.
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