The Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is an examination taken by millions of college hopefuls to ascertain their readiness for higher education. Officially introduced in the 1920s as a uniform way of assessing the primary skills needed to succeed in college, around 1.7 million high school students attempt to pass the SAT exam each year. Used as a standard by college admissions offices and administration panels, the SAT is often an essential determining factor for a student’s ability to choose their top choice for higher education.
Taking the SAT exam as a student is a great way to determine how prepared you are for college and career. The test also connects you to College Board programs and services that can take you to opportunities you’ve earned. The following guide offers the list of most frequently asked questions about the SAT exam while also providing glimpses of what to expect on the exam. It covers up almost everything you need to know about the SAT exams. Let’s get into the details;
Which Institutions Accept the SAT Exam?
All four-year colleges in the United States accept the SAT, and most schools require either the SAT or the ACT (American College Testing) exam. However, there is an increasing number of educational institutions with more flexible policies, so make sure to check with the specific colleges you’re planning to apply to. You’ll also need to take the SAT exam if you’re a student in the United States, looking to apply to schools in the UK, Canada, or an international student hoping to attend college in the US.
What Are the Sections in the SAT Exam?
The SAT exams consist of four sections, as well as an optional essay. These sections start from Reading, followed by Writing and Language, then the no calculator allowed section of Math, and in the end, the Math section you’re allowed a calculator on. If you choose to take the SAT essay, it’ll be the last section of the paper. Most of the SAT exam questions are multiple choices, but five questions in the Mathematics section (No Calculator) and eight questions on Mathematics (with Calculator) will be grid-ins.
When you appear for the SAT, you’ll get a 5-minute break after about every hour. That means you’ll get a break after completing the Reading section and a second one after the Math (No Calculator) section. If you’re also taking the Essay section, you’ll also get a break before starting it. The total time of the SAT exam is 3 hours without the essay, and 3 hours and 50 minutes if you do take the essay part. The following chart breaks down the format of the test.
No. of Questions
Time per question (sec)
Writing & Language
Mathematics (without a calculator)
Math (with a calculator)
Essay Writing (optional)
3 hours + 50 minutes with essay
3 hours without the essay
Many students who take the SAT, fall into stress and anxiety if they fail to pass the examination in the first attempt. However, this is fine. It doesn’t mean that you are incapable of passing the test, but it means you just lacked guidance. And here, we’re going to add some tips on how to prepare for the SAT exam.
Tips to Prepare for the SAT Exam?
1. Get All the Details
Understanding the test style, instructions, and the type of questions you will be asked will save you a lot of time. Find the detailed instruction guides for the SATs and ACTs online and prepare them beforehand.
2. Practice More
Give yourself enough time to take real, full-length practice tests. Use a timer to get habituated to the time limits, and try to pace yourself, so you have enough time to solve all the questions. After finishing each section, check your answers and devote some time to reviewing the questions you got wrong.
3. Start Reading
Other than the material available online, there are books, complete with full practice tests based on actual exams from past years that can help you study. Some colleges’ online stores also offer an extensive collection of SAT prep books. Research and get books.
4. Join a Preparation Class
If you find it hard to prepare it on your own, consider taking a prep class. Some schools offer relevant after-school programs or try to find a privately run prep course in your area. Having an instructor by your side can save a lot of time and effort when you don’t understand an answer.
Also, one factor of students who are shy in the classrooms is the presence of the opposite sex students. When students attend single-sex learning classes rather than the mixed ones, they feel more comfortable. So, go for the classrooms, you’re comfortable in, and prepare your best.
5. Memorize the Formulae
The SAT exam lists some formulas for you at the front of each math section, so you must know all basic mathematics formulae and concepts. With you’ve practiced enough, you should be able to memorize them, which can help save you time during the actual test.
6. Work on Your Vocabulary
Before taking practice tests, you should also try reading challenging books and articles. Have a dictionary on Google by your side so you can instantly look up to the new terms.
How Are the SAT Subject Tests Scored?
The total score for each SAT is on a 200 – 800 scale in 10-point intervals. Each test is counted differently depending on how many answer choices there are. Each correct answer gets one point. Each incorrect answer is subtracted as mentioned below:
– 0 points subtracted for questions you left empty
– 1/4 point subtracted for each 5- multiple choice question
– 1/3 point subtracted for each 4- multiple choice question
– 1/2 point subtracted for each 3- multiple choice question
There’s a lot to learn out there, and it’s too much to write in a single article. We hope that you get the basics, and that’s the first step. The hard part that comes after. It is using the knowledge you’ve learned and put it into action. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worthwhile for your future. Good Luck!