For the majority of class of 2017 students, we would advise moving forward with the ACT over the SAT.
The redesigned SAT arrives in March 2016. Our concerns with the first 2-3 administrations of the new exam include:
the delayed release of March and May scores (students taking the March SAT will wait more than two months to receive their scores)
proper assignment of question difficulty and percentile ranking accuracy
proper concordance between the redesigned SAT's new 1600-point scale and the ACT's 36-point scale (this is very important as it is used by college admissions officers to compare SAT to ACT scores).
The exception to this rule:
Students who are currently scoring, or expected to score, 700+ on the math portion of the SAT. If you fall into this category, you'll may want to take your chances with the new SAT, as the upside will outweigh the possible risks.
The upside is this: on the new SAT, math will comprise a full 50% of your total score, as opposed to 25% of your total score on the ACT. So if you're a math all-star (as defined by a current or expected score of 700+ on the SAT math section) you'll still be better off with the new SAT.
Should I rush out and take the old SAT before it changes?
No. In our opinion, there is no compelling reason to do this. Some of the largest test prep companies are suggesting this approach, but this advice seems misplaced.
How does it benefit the student to take an official SAT so early in their high school career?
The student will not be able to re-take the exam as a Senior.
The student will not be able to take full advantage of opportunities for super-scoring.
Does it benefit the student to enroll in an SAT prep course for the old SAT?
No. If the student has a bad day, or doesn't reach their desired result, or posts a score that is not a true indication of their academic ability, they will be forced to start from scratch with their preparation by studying for the new SAT or the ACT.