Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT): Content, Format, Structure, and More

The Scholastic Aptitude Test, more commonly known as the SAT, is a paper-based standardized test developed and administered by the College Board in 1926. It is taken by high school students for admissions to universities or colleges in the United States. It tests an examinee’s writing, reading, and critical thinking skills. Basically, the SAT tests a student’s readiness for college studies.

What does SAT mean?

SAT is an abbreviation for Scholastic Aptitude Test.

What is the purpose of the SAT?

The SAT is used to assess a high school student’s readiness for college. It is usually required for undergraduate admissions. This standardized test is taken by students who are in junior and senior high school for college admissions. Through this test, colleges get a single point of comparison for all applicants.

What is the structure of SAT?

Reading, writing and language, math (calculator), math (no calculator), and essay are the test sections of SAT. It is composed of 154 multiple-choice questions and 1 optional essay.

Reading Test

The SAT Reading Test consists of 52 questions which may be taken for 65 minutes. These questions are all in multiple-choice format and are based on reading passages. In this section, there are five passages, two of which may be a pair of smaller passages, and 10 to 11 questions per passage. The three primary subjects of history, social studies, and science are all represented in this section. The content expressed in the passage is used to answer all of the questions.

Writing and Language Test

The SAT Writing and Language Test consists of one section with 44 multiple-choice questions and a 35-minute time limit. All questions, like the Reading Test, are based on passages that may include tables, graphs, and charts. Examinees are asked to make suggestions for improvements or corrections to the underlined content. The reading passages on this test cover a wide range of topics, from topic arguments to nonfiction narratives. The skills assessed in this section are the following:

  • Command of Evidence – how an examinee improves the way information and ideas are developed in passages
  • Words in Context – how an examinee improves word choice
  • Analysis in History/Social Studies and in Science – improving social studies and science analysis
  • Expression of Ideas – modifying sentence or word structure to improve writing organization and impact
  • Standard English Conventions – correcting grammar and punctuation

Mathematics

The SAT Math Test has two sections: 1) Math Test – Calculator and 2) Math Test – No Calculator. It can be taken for 80 minutes and has 58 questions: 45 multiple choice and 13 grid-in. The grid-in questions are free responses and ask the test taker to provide an answer, while the multiple choice questions have four possible answers.

SAT Essay

The SAT Essay is optional. It is used to evaluate a test taker’s ability to analyze an author’s argument. To write a strong essay, an examinee should concentrate on how the author builds an argument and makes it convincing by using evidence, reasoning, and other rhetorical techniques. Every test will have the same essay task.

When should I take the SAT?

Junior year, in the spring. It is recommended that you take the SAT for the first time in the spring of your junior year. This way, the test can be retaken in the fall of senior year before the college application deadlines if one wishes to[1].

When is the SAT test date?

The SAT dates for 2021 to 2022 are as follows:

  • August 28, 2021
  • October 2, 2021
  • November 6, 2021
  • December 4, 2021
  • March 12, 2022
  • May 7, 2022
  • June 4, 2022

Each testing date has a different registration deadline and late registration deadline. It is best to take note of these important dates and to register as soon as possible.

How long is the SAT?

3 hours is given to examinees to finish the SAT. This excludes one 10-minute break and one five-minute break.

How is the SAT scored?

The SAT is calculated by the College Board by converting the raw score into a scaled score. Then, these scaled scores are added together to determine the total SAT score. Note that there will be two section scores, Math, and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, which range from 200 to 800. A total SAT score can range from 400 to 1600. When evaluating your performance in a particular area, colleges may look at your section scores in addition to your overall score. When you take the SAT essay (which will be phased out in January 2021), you will receive three essay scores ranging from 2 to 8[2].

How long does it take to get my SAT scores?

13 days after the test date, the SAT multiple-choice scores are released. For the June test date, test scores are typically released about 5 weeks after the test date.

How do I register for the SAT?

SAT registration can be done online. To register, follow these steps[3]:

  • Choose which administration you want to take.
  • Sign in to your College Board account.
  • Fill in your full legal name and any other identifying information. Check that it matches the name and information on your photo ID.
  • Decide whether or not you want to answer any additional questions about yourself. This will take some time, but it will be worth it especially if you want colleges and scholarship organizations to find you.
  • Find out where you can take the SAT and when you can take it.
  • Read the photo requirements and upload the right photo.
  • Check out, and print your admission ticket.

Above are the steps to register for the SAT online. Remember that registering for the SAT online can take up to 30 minutes, but you can begin the process and return to finish it at a later time.

How can I prepare for the SAT?

There are a lot of different ways to prepare for the SAT. Listed below are proven tips to help students prepare for the SAT[4]:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to begin. It is best to plan ahead when to take the SAT. Select an SAT date far enough in advance to allow time for preparation. Doing so will also help prevent unnecessary cramming.
  • Use official College Board resources. Of course, studying is one of the most effective ways to prepare for the SAT. That is why it is recommended to utilize the official resources curated by the College Board. Since it is made by the makers of SAT, it is considered to be the most comprehensive study resource available.
  • Complete a full-length practice test. Taking a practice test with the same time limit as the real SAT gives you a good idea of how you’ll perform on test day. As you prepare for the real test, the results of your practice tests will show you what areas you need to improve on.
  • Take SAT preparation courses. If your schedule and budget permit, it is advisable to enroll in a prep class to help you prepare for the SAT. This is most applicable to students who cannot commit to self-studying.
  • Prepare for test day. On the day before the test day, plan out the logistics. This includes knowing how you will get to the test center and when you will arrive. Make a list of the things you should bring that the College Board allows. You can concentrate on performing well and scoring well if you are well prepared for the details of the test day.

The tips above are helpful in preparing for the SAT. Follow these tips to comprehend SAT concepts and the confidence necessary to achieve your goals.

What is the best SAT prep course?

Kaplan is the best SAT preparation course. It is considered as the best SAT prep course for the quality it offers – not only for the course but for instructors as well. It also offers features like on-demand classes, tutoring, and lots of practice tests. Kaplan also caters students with a variety of learning styles, as well as those with learning disabilities. Cost for this course ranges from $199 to $1999[5].

How much do SAT prep classes cost?

Anywhere between $50 to $2000 can be expected to spend for SAT preparation courses. The cost varies depending on the services provided[6].

Are SAT prep classes worth it?

Yes, SAT preparation classes are worth it. Studies show consistent results that students who took prep courses raised total scores by approximately 30 points on average[7].

How can I practice SAT at home?

There are a lot of free resources available online which can be used for studying for the SAT at home. Listed below are things you can do at home to start preparing for the SAT:

  • Read the guides and watch the videos on the College Board website to become familiar with the test’s format.
  • Take full-length practice tests available online and offline, like in prep books.
  • Review your mistakes and try to understand why you answered them incorrectly. The explanations provided will be helpful in this process.
  • Time yourself when answering practice tests.
  • Record daily scores to monitor your progress.
  • Join study groups in your community and online.
  • Discipline yourself and master time management.

Listed above are helpful tips to study for the SAT at home. In making a study plan, there is no perfect formula that would work for everyone. It is best to look for an approach that works best for you and your schedule.

What are the SAT prep books for 2021?

The best SAT preparation books for SAT 2021 are listed below[8]:

  • 2018 SAT Reading: World Literature Practice Book
  • 500 SAT Math Problems
  • Barron’s SAT Math Workbook, 7th Edition
  • Barron’s SAT Premium Study Guide
  • Dr. Jang’s SAT* 800 Math Workbook, 2020 Edition
  • Kallis’ SAT Pattern Strategy, 3rd Edition
  • Kaplan’s SAT Prep Plus 2021
  • McGraw-Hill Education’s SAT Elite 2021
  • PWN the SAT: Math Guide, 4th Edition
  • SAT Prep Black Book, 2nd Edition
  • The College Board’s Official SAT Study Guide, 2020 Edition
  • The College Panda’s SAT Writing: Advanced Guide and Workbook, 2nd Edition
  • The Critical Reader: The Complete Guide to SAT Reading, 3rd Edition
  • The Critical Reader: The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar, 5th Edition
  • The Princeton Review’s 10 Practice Tests for the SAT, 2021 Edition
  • The Princeton Review’s Cracking the SAT Premium, 2020 Edition

Listed above are the most sought-after SAT preparation books. These books help students improve their test-taking skills and familiarize themselves with the types of questions they will encounter on the SAT. Each book serves a different purpose—some cover all the topics, while others cover only a section.

Should I take the SAT or the ACT?

Any of these tests may be taken for admissions and merit-based scholarships. The sole factor to consider in choosing is which test you score better on. To do this, take a full-length practice test of both tests. Here you will know which test you handle time pressure better and the type of questions that you find challenging.

The ACT and SAT cover similar topics, content, and style. However, the SAT has one Math Section and the ACT has a Science section. The majority of colleges do not have a preference for one test over the other. Students tend to perform better on one test than the other[9].

Is the ACT or SAT harder?

Neither the SAT nor the ACT is more difficult than the other[9].

Is 3 months enough to study for the SAT?

Yes, 3 months is more than enough to study and prepare for the SAT.

Is the SAT getting harder?

No. According to the College Board, the SAT still measures the same skills that students learn at the high school level.

Which country conducted the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)?

The United States introduced the Scholastic Aptitude Test or more commonly known as SAT in 1926.

Why were SAT Practice Test 2 and 4 removed?

The SAT Practice Test 2 and 4 are no longer representative of the current SAT which is the reason why they were removed.

References:

  1. https://blog.collegeboard.org/when-should-you-take-the-sat
  2. https://theolivebook.com/how-is-the-sat-scored/
  3. https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/online-registration-help
  4. https://blog.collegeboard.org/what-best-way-prepare-sat
  5. https://www.intelligent.com/best-sat-prep-courses-and-classes/
  6. https://blog.prepscholar.com/how-much-do-sat-prep-courses-cost
  7. https://www.thoughtco.com/are-sat-prep-courses-worth-the-cost-788672
  8. https://www.bestcolleges.com/blog/best-sat-prep-books/
  9. [https://www.princetonreview.com/college/sat-act