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We’ve put together everything you need to know about the SAT®, and answers to the most frequently asked questions.

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SAT® Basics

The SAT®, along with the ACT®, serves as one of the major components of a student’s admission decision at the vast majority of American colleges and universities. The SAT® has five sections (with essay) for a total of 3 hours and 50 minutes. The SAT® is scored on a 400-1600 point scale, with two subsections (Reading Comprehension/Writing and Language and Math) each receiving a score from 200-800. There is an optional 50-minute essay which receives a score from 6-24, but is not included in a student’s composite score.

Who takes the SAT®?

Students hoping to secure a seat at the vast majority of American colleges and universities. The SAT® (or ACT®) is required for admission at over 90% of American colleges and universities.

What is tested on the SAT®?

There are three main academic areas that are assessed on the SAT®. In reading, students are measured in their ability to read for main ideas, understand tone, draw inferences, and define vocabulary in context. In math, students are assessed in their knowledge of concepts in arithmetic, geometry, and algebra (algebra I and a little algebra II). In writing, students are tested in their understanding of standard grammar usage.

SAT® Resources:

Register for the SAT® at https://sat.collegeboard.org/register

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When do most students take the SAT®?

Most students take the SAT® at least two times during their high school careers. The majority of students take the SAT® for the first time during the spring of their junior year. If needed, students generally then will retake the exam during the fall of their senior year.

Where can I sign up to take the SAT®?

Students must register for the SAT® through the College Board’s website: http://sat.collegeboard.org/register

What is the cost to take the SAT®?

The regular registration fee for the SAT® is $54.50 (with the essay) or $43.00 (without the essay).

Why is the SAT® important?

The SAT® is important because it comprises between 25% to 35% of a student’s college admission decision. It is a single four-hour test that has a significant impact on a student’s collegiate prospects. By the end of junior year, several components of a student’s college admission – such as Grade Point Average and extracurricular activities – are relatively settled. This leaves the SAT® as one of the final opportunities for a student to either solidify an otherwise strong application or to bolster a weaker application.

How should I prepare for the SAT®?

There are several ways that a student can prepare for the SAT®. Students should gain familiarity with the structure of the SAT®. The SAT®, at nearly four hours, is the longest test most students will take to that point in time, and being aware of this unique challenge is important. Students should also work to further develop the academic skills being assessed by the SAT®. Understanding main ideas in a reading passage, working with triangles, and understanding subject-verb agreement are just a sample of the cross-curricular skills that are covered on the exam. Students should learn the particular way in which questions are asked on the SAT®. As opposed to much of the math students experience in high school, questions on the SAT® are asked in a less straightforward way, which means that students must be particularly adept at identifying the core concept being assessed in a given question. The easiest way for students to gain experience with the SAT® is to complete a full-length practice exam under conditions similar to the actual test. This experience will provide results that can inform and focus student preparation.

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