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SAT - Scholastic Aptitude Test

The SAT is a standardized test designed to measure basic critical reading, math and writing skills. Most colleges and universities request ACT or SAT score results from applicants. Students may usually take their test of choice, but it is best to check with schools of interest before selecting (unless the student plans to take both exams). Standardized tests are an important factor in the admissions process, and students should do their best to show schools that they know their stuff. The SAT is composed of three main sections, each with its own subsections. The three major sections will be graded on a scale of 200-800. The final score will be the sum of all sections, a number between 400 and 1600. Here is what you can expect to see in each section.

The Writing

The writing section of the test is 60 minutes long and is composed of both multiple choice questions and an essay. The SAT will begin with the 25 minute essay. Students will be asked to express their position on a provided passage and to support their opinions with evidence. The essay will be scored on a scale of 2 to 8. The multiple choice portion of the writing section is composed of 49 questions that test the student’s ability to clearly communicate ideas, identify grammatical errors and to improve sentences and paragraphs. Students will have 35 minutes to complete this portion of the test.

The Math

The math section is 70 minutes long and composed of both multiple choice questions and student-produced response questions. Luckily, only 10 are student produced. In this section, you may find questions dealing with numbers and operations, algebra, geometry and data analysis among others. Students are allowed to use their calculators, but some restrictions apply. Permitted calculators include ones that are scientific, graphic and four-function.

The Critical Reading

The critical reading section tests a student’s ability to understand what they have read, quickly. Like the math section, it is 70 minutes in length. Two different question types can be found in this section, the sentence completion and the passage-based reading. There will be 19 sentence completion questions on the test. To answer these questions, students will have to choose which one or two words best complete the sentence blanks. Their vocabulary skills and their ability to understand how sentence parts fit together will be tested. There are also 48 passage-based reading questions in this section. These are composed of short passages followed by questions that deal with them.

When taking the test, keep in mind that points may be deducted for certain incorrect answers. Points will not be deducted for those that are left blank. If you are completely clueless about the answer, it may be in your best interest to leave the answer blank. However, if you can eliminate at least one or two answers, it’s worth a shot. The amount deducted for incorrect answers is lower than the amount received for correct ones.

The SAT is administered seven times per year, and students who are not satisfied with their score may retake the exam. If you wish to take the test again, make sure to plan ahead. It’s important to submit scores to schools on time. Meanwhile, prepare. A low score may not ruin your chance to attend the school of your dreams, but a good one can definitely increase it.

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Last Reviewed: June 2020