Michigan makes the switch to the SAT

Recently the Michigan Department of Education announced that all public schools will offer the SAT rather than the ACT as a free college admissions test starting in 2016. Michigan has long been an "ACT only" state, which is why the recent announcement took many by surprise. Some school officials aren't looking forward to administering a new test, and many of our Local College Access Networks are wondering what this means for longitudinal student data. Although ACT has issued a formal protest against MDE and the Department of Technology, Management & Budget's decision, we must prepare for change and embrace the additional benefits the switch will bring to students.

According to department officials and education reforms experts, the switch to the SAT should be fairly painless for students. The SAT will be offered free of charge to all juniors and may better measure what students are learning from their classwork.

While the switch may seem daunting to school administers, school counselors, and community leaders, resources and support from The College Board should help soften the transition. The College Board has a number of helpful resources, campaigns and fee waiver programs, including some specifically targeted at low-income students and students of color.

Among their resources are free sample SAT questions, full SAT practice tests, a SAT online course and an official SAT study guide. Access to Opportunity is an initiative designed to identify and break down barriers preventing low-income, first generation and underrepresented minority students from accessing college. Additionally, low-income students can qualify for test fee waivers, college application fee waivers, and to receive college preparation paperwork. The College Board also dedicates a portion its website to education professionals, providing them with the tools they need to become proficient in test coordinating. These resources will allow school administrators to become familiar with the redesigned SAT and help them create curriculum that will prepare their students for the test.

And let us not forget Michigan eLibrary's LearningExpress has the SAT and the ACT WorkKeys covered! Students can utilize the free LearningExpress Library College Prep Center to take practice tests in preparation for all sections of the SAT test.


Many LCANs use ACT readiness scores to track the academic readiness of students in their community. As the SAT transition happens next year, MCAN will help coach these networks on how to manage the data transition.

MCAN also scheduled a webinar today, January 20, with Kahn Academy, a free online learning resource for students and educators. The College Board has recently partnered with Khan Academy to provide free SAT preparation materials to all students starting in 2015. Khan Academy will all be doing a major updated release of the SAT prep resources available this spring. It's not too late to register for the webinar!

The DTMB's decision to switch to the SAT is a reminder that the college-going process is forever changing. With the proper resources and tools our community leaders can prepare our students to successfully navigate the SAT. The added benefits for students will make the extra effort required by community leaders well worth it.

Jamie Jacobs headshot 2013Author: Jamie Jacobs, director of professional development for the Michigan College Access Network

Posted: January 20, 2015

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