Frequently Asked Questions on Michigan's switch from the ACT to the SAT

January 7, 2015

What changes are happening?

Beginning in the spring of 2016, Michigan high school juniors will take the College Board’s SAT as their state-required, free college entrance exam instead of the ACT. The SAT is a globally-recognized test accepted by nearly every college in the nation.

There will not be a dramatic shift in the college application process because Michigan colleges already accept and use the SAT for admissions decisions. In fact, 60,000 SAT scores were sent to Michigan universities last year and nearly 40% of the test scores sent to the University of Michigan were from the SAT.  Michigan State University has said that there will not be any significant impacts on their admissions process because of the switch.

When will students start taking the SAT?

Students who are juniors in the spring of 2016 will be the first students to take the SAT as part of the state’s M-STEP (Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress) assessment system. Students who already have taken the ACT along with current high school juniors will still use their ACT score for college applications. Parents/Students will not be charged any additional fees for this switch to the SAT test.  The SAT test will simply replace the ACT test for all Michigan students.

Will my student be prepared for the SAT?

The SAT provides additional and distinct benefits for students and families. The SAT has partnered with the famous Khan Academy to provide world-class online SAT test prep for FREE. This could save students and families at least $300. Additionally, College Board will fully train educators how to effectively prepare students and administer the exam.

The SAT provides 4 fee waivers for college applications for students who qualify for the Free or Reduced Lunch program. This could save students and families $30-$90 per application, with an average total savings of about $200.

Why did the state switch tests?

As required by state law, the state underwent a competitive bidding process to choose Michigan’s college entrance exam.  The SAT bid was $15.4 million less over the three-year contract than the next bidder and scored 10 percentage points higher by the Joint Evaluation Committee (JEC).

What is the biggest difference between the ACT (current test) and SAT (beginning in 2016)?

The College Board is in the process of transitioning the SAT examination to a more evidence-based assessment approach that can include multiple item types, beyond multiple-choice. These changes will allow the college entrance examination to be more aligned with Michigan standards. Students still will be able to apply to college using the SAT and are able to have their scores automatically sent to colleges of their choice. Furthermore, the SAT will be provided at no cost to the student.

Is the SAT linked to Common Core?

No. The SAT has been used for 88 years as the primary college admissions test in the United States and is not part of any new test consortium, including common core.

What does this mean for my current high school junior student?

Current high school juniors will take the ACT and should prepare for it as they normally would. The ACT remains a viable college admissions test. Current juniors wishing to also take the SAT can register to do so here:

Should my student take the ACT in addition to the SAT?

Students should decide which exam to take in the same manner they always have. Students who have questions should contact their high school guidance counselor to help them make the best decision.

Will my student still take the WorkKeys assessment?

Yes. The switch to the SAT still includes the WorkKeys portion of the test at no cost to the student.

What about my student with disabilities?

Like in previous years, accommodations will be made for students with disabilities. Students and parents should continue working with their schools in the same manner they always have.


For more information contact the Michigan Department of Education at 517-373-3324