The SAT tests students' readiness for college and is used by the large majority of admissions offices for their internal procedures, admitting first-year applicants. Every student receives a score between 400 and 1,600, with the latter being the maximum possible. The (new) SAT test takes a total of 180 minutes (230 with essay) and the format is split in two (including Essay: three) sections:
Evidence-based reading & writing
The reading section focuses on your ability to process information. Information, such as a speech or an informational passage on a topic within natural or social science. This could be a paragraph on a speech delivered by a former historical figure, but it could also be a piece about the volcanic activities in Indonesia, accompanied by a table or a chart. While you don't need to apply any mathematical skills, it's important you understand the link between the written words and such a graph. Reading between the lines and understanding the usage of certain words, phrases and context are important skills which are being measured by this the reading section.
The writing section measures your ability to be somewhat of an editor. The SAT team has deliberately created passages, sentences or paragraphs, which may use some editing and correcting, which … yes, should be done by you.
Either way, you have done all of the above to some extent in your high school career, while checking your homework, reading the newspaper, a book or watching a movie.
Your ability is measured on a scale of 200-800.
The math section tests your ability to solve problems, especially in college life (math, science, statistics, etc.), your personal life or jobs you may be working in sometime later in life.
The 2 sections (one with a calculator, one without) will be based on knowledge juniors/seniors are expected to have covered during school work in upper secondary high school. While you may be more familiar with some of these topics than others, there shouldn't be anything ground-breaking new to you.
The large portion of questions are multiple-choice questions with only a few “grid-in questions”, which require an answer you come up with.
Regardless the section (evidence-based reading & writing or mathematics) time is definitely one the biggest obstacles to doing well. The test is designed in a way, which puts you under pressure and more than anything you need to be quick in reading, calculating and coming up with answers.
Your ability is measured on a scale of 200-800.
Writing the SAT essay is optional and required by some university admissions offices. During 50 minutes you are asked to deliver your own piece of work, based on a passage that you read in the beginning. The following prompt will be your starting point before diving into the presented text:
As you read the passage below, consider how [the author] uses evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.
- evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.
- reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.
- stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.
Write an essay in which you explain how [the author] builds an argument to persuade [his/her] audience that [author's claim]. In your essay, analyze how [the author] uses one or more of the features listed above (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of [his/her] argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage. Your essay should not explain whether you agree with [the author's] claims, but rather explain how the author builds an argument to persuade [his/her] audience.
The SAT Essay is scored on a scale of 2-8 points.
SAT test dates
The SAT test is offered 7 times a year. Because the processing of your results takes about 3 weeks after test date, you should make sure you plan carefully when to take the test. Many people want the opportunity to take the test at least a second time during their recruiting process and/or when applying for college.
Bearing in mind the fact that the Regular Signing Period (“National Letter of Intent”) starts in November of your senior year, you do want to take the SAT test in your junior year. More on that in your Recruiting Timeline.
"Unless you are one of the athletes recruited very early on, coaches will greatly appreciate if you reach out to them with an official SAT score."
For starters, everything you have done in high school to this point and will continue to do until test date will pay off in one way or the other. On top of this there are a number of useful strategies to prepare for the big day:
Before anything else, make yourself familiar with the test format, the various section, sample questions and test strategies.
You can also find practice tests for download, which is a great way of getting to know what's expected of you: Collegeboard - SAT
If you are the kind of person, who likes to study with a book, the SAT has official SAT Study Guides, which you could order.
The SAT offers free resources on the Khan Academy. The platform allows you to set up your personalized study plan including a number of set practice questions per day and certain days when you should take a full practice test.
Third-party preparation / tutors
Considering the importance of the SAT test and its financial implications if you were to receive a better academic scholarship offer, many people look to add private tutors to their team or make use of other preparation tools. Whether that's a smart investment or not, is up to you to decide and we encourage you read up on this topic extensively.
First, understand the kind of schools you would like to get recruited by. Second, understand the SAT score range needed to make it happen. Then, decide on how to get there academically.
As soon as you know which SAT test date works for you, sign up for the test on the SAT Website. The SAT currently costs 52 USD (add +15 USD with essay) and gets more expensive in case you test outside the U.S.
If you have registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center or NAIA Eligibility Center prior to your test, you may choose to have your scores sent to the respective Eligibility Center free of charge. 4 free reports can be sent, which means you would even be able to add two universities as score report recipients without any additional cost.
Read up on the second major test, which NCAA and NAIA use for their eligibility decisions and most colleges accept for applications: ACT.