What You Should Know About The SAT

The SAT Reasoning Test is a standardized exam that is used for college admissions. While some programs do not require it, most four-year colleges and universities require that applicants take either the SAT or the ACT.

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The SAT has three sections: Math, Verbal, and Writing, which was added in 2005. Each section is scored on a 200-800 point scale, and the total of these sections makes up the complete score (600-2400). The test is broken up into seven 25-minute sections, two 20-minute sections, and one 10-minute section with three 5-minute breaks, meaning that the full test clocks in at three hours and forty-five minutes.

The Math portion of the SAT is made up of two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section consisting of multiple choice and grid-in questions. The material covers things you’ve learned in Arithmetic, Geometry, Algebra I, and a few things from Algebra II. You can use a calculator on the SAT and some formulas and theorems will be provided in a reference sheet.

The Verbal portion of the SAT has two 25-minutes sections and a 20-minute section that test your basic reading skills. Questions are broken down into passage-based reading comprehension questions and sentence completions, which test your vocabulary.

The Writing part of the SAT consists of the essay and two sections of multiple choice questions (twenty-five and ten minutes). The essay assesses your ability to structure a piece of writing and make well-reasoned argument in response to a prompt you do not know beforehand. The multiple choice questions test your knowledge of English grammar.

On every SAT test, there will also be one 25-minute experimental section. You will not know what section this is while taking the test, and so it is best not to try to guess. However, your performance in this section is used by the makers of the SAT for research and will not affect your final score.

You can take both the SAT and the ACT, and can take the test as many times as you like—most students take the SAT two or three times. The only colleges that will receive your scores are the ones you specifically choose. If you’ve taken the test most than once, most colleges will look at your highest scores for each individual section. Colleges will not average your scores across all the tests you’ve taken, so if you have one low overall score, this will not count against you.

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Perhaps the most important thing to know is that the SAT is not an IQ test and does not assess raw intelligence. Rather, it measures a number of qualities, such as basic knowledge of the material, problem-solving skills, and familiarity with the style of the SAT itself. Therefore, unlike an IQ test, the more time you put into studying, the better your score will be. You may benefit from reviewing with tools like a prep book. Good luck and happy studying!