The Scholastic Admission Test (SAT) and SAT Subject Tests are a suite of tools designed to assess your academic readiness for college. These exams provide a path to opportunities, financial support and scholarships, in a way that’s fair to all students. The SAT and SAT Subject Tests keep pace with what colleges are looking for today, measuring the skills required for success in the 21st century. The SAT is a globally recognized college admission test that lets you show colleges what you know and how well you can apply that knowledge. It tests your knowledge of reading, writing and math — subjects that are taught every day in high school classrooms. Most students take the SAT during their junior or senior year of high school, and almost all colleges and universities use the SAT to make admission decisions.
Overview of the SAT – What is the SAT and why is it important?
Created by The College Board, the SAT is an entrance exam used by most colleges and universities to make admissions decisions. The idea (in theory, at least) is to provide colleges with one common criterion that can be used to compare all applicants.
There are 2 SAT sections: Math & Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. The SAT Writing section includes an essay, which is optional.
Start to finish, the SAT test will take you 3 hours (without Essay) and 3 hours 50 minutes (with essays). Each section is scored on a 400 to 1600 point scale, making a perfect score 1600.
It is one of the factors in the admissions decision. Schools also consider your high school GPA, academic transcript, letters of recommendation, interviews and personal essays. The weight placed on SAT scores varies from school to school.
In March of 2016, the SAT underwent its biggest change in 30 years. Our awesome research team closely monitored the changes to make sure counselors, parents, and students got the inside scoop. Here’s a brief overview of the test.
The SAT: In-depth Details:
• Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
Total score (400–1600)
|Scoring||2 section scores (200–800)3 test scores (10–40)7 sub-scores (1–15) 2 cross-test scores|
|Length of Test |
|3 hours (without essay) 3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay)|
|Answer Choices||4 answer choices per question|
|Incorrect answers penalty||No penalty for incorrect answers|
|Format of Test||Paper and pencil and a computer-based optionTwo tests:Reading TestWriting and Language TestNo more sentence completions; focus on words with multiple meaningsPassages will draw from significant historical or scientific documents – may include informational graphics, such as charts|
|Reading & Writing||The reading passages will include complex structure and vocabularyPassage-based grammar with punctuation|
|Focuses on:Application-based, multi-step questionsHigher-level math, including trigonometryOne set of “extended-thinking” grid-in questions (worth 4 points)|
|Math||Core math competencies (translating math into English and English into math)A deep understanding of mathematical principles, such as building equation|
|Calculators||Calculators are only allowed in the longer of the two math sections|
|The Essay||The essay is optional (50 minutes, timed) Students will be provided a substantial passage (600–700 words) and will be asked to analyze how the author built his argumentStudents will need to understand the techniques, authors use to write persuasively|
More about the SAT
With over 1.8 million test-takers per year, the SAT is the most well-known
The content on the SAT will be very similar to that which is on the ACT. The major difference is in how the concepts are tested and the steps students will have to take to solve problems correctly. Students will have to reason their way through this exam by tackling problems in a linear and sequential fashion. Your ability to process information quickly will be the key.
|Changes You’ll Love||Changes You Won’t Love|
|No penalty for wrong answers, so you don’t have to worry about losing points for wrong answers (Just like on the ACT) Only 4 answer choices instead of 5 (Just like on the ACT)More familiar vocabulary, but you’ll need to know multiple definitions of those words||Questions require multiple steps to get an answerReading passages include complex structure and vocabulary Foundational math skills are more important Reasoning and critical thinking skills are paramount You’ll have fewer but longer sections|
How Should I Prepare for the SAT?
The SAT is still a timed pencil and paper test. Speed and accuracy count.
Colleges will accept either the SAT or ACT. So which should you take?
It’s all about the numbers. Some students end up scoring substantially higher on the SAT- others do better on the ACT.
Since the March 2016 redesign of the SAT, there are fewer differences between the SAT and ACT. The 3 main differences are here:
ACT questions tend to be more straightforward.
ACT questions are often easier to understand on a first read. On the SAT, you may need to spend time figuring out what you’re being asked before you can start solving the problem.
The ACT has a Science section, while the SAT does not.
You don’t need to know anything about amoebas or chemical reactions for the ACT Science section. It is meant to test your reading and reasoning skills, based upon a given set of facts. But if science isn’t your thing, the SAT might be a better fit.
The ACT requires you to work faster, while the SAT gives you more time.
Take a look at this graph below, which analyzes how much time you are given (on average) to answer a question on both tests:
|SAT||Time||Questions||Minutes Per Question|
|Math||80 minutes||58 questions||1 minute 22 seconds|
|Reading||65 minutes||52 questions||1 minute 15 seconds|
|Writing and Language *||35 minutes||44 questions||47 seconds|
|ACT||Time||Questions||Minutes Per Question|
|Math||60 minutes||60 questions||1 minute|
|Reading||35 minutes||40 questions||52.5 seconds|
|English *||45 minutes||75 questions||36 seconds|
|Science||35 minutes||40 questions||52.5 seconds|
* SAT Writing and Language is similar to the ACT English
You can see that the ACT expects you to answer almost everything in less than a minute, while the SAT always gives you more time.
College admissions officers care about how you did on each section of the SAT. On the ACT, they’re most concerned with your composite score. So if you’re weak in one content area but strong in others, you could still end up with a very good ACT score.
What are the SAT Subject Tests and why are they important?
SAT Subject Tests are one hour tests that focus on specific academic subjects. Many selective schools require you take at least one if not more SAT Subject Tests. Check with the admissions department of your prospective schools to learn more about their requirements. The best part about the Subject Tests is that in many cases you get to choose which ones you’ll take, so you should pick the ones where you’re strongest.
What specifically do the SAT Subject Tests test?
It depends on the test. There are 5 content areas–Math, History, Literature, Science, and Languages. There are multiple tests in every content area except Literature.
More about each Subject Test
Math Level 1
Tests: Algebra, geometry, basic trigonometry, Algebraic functions, elementary statistics, logic, elementary number theory, and arithmetic and geometric sequences.
Math Level 2
Tests: Algebra, three-dimensional and coordinate geometry, Trigonometry, functions, probability, permutations, combinations, logic, proofs, elementary number theory, sequences, and limits.
The Physics Subject Test measures your ability to solve specific problems with the application of physical principles. The test also assesses your understanding of simple algebraic, trigonometric, and graphical relationships, the concepts of ratio and proportion, and how to apply these concepts to physics problems.
The Chemistry Subject Test measures your ability to organize and interpret results obtained by observation and experimentation. The test also assesses your aptitude for drawing conclusions and/or making inferences using experimental data, including data presented in graphic and/or tabular form.
The Biology Subject Test assesses your understanding of general biology at the college preparatory level, your recall and comprehension of the major concepts of biology, and your ability to apply the principles learned to solve specific problems in biology.
The World History Subject Test measures your understanding of key developments in global history, your use of basic historical techniques and terminology, and your aptitude for the critical analysis and interpretation of documented events. To learn more about SAT Subject Tests, visit the College Board.
The United States History Subject Test assesses your familiarity with historical concepts, cause-and-effect relationships, geography, and other data necessary for interpreting and understanding major historical developments in U.S. History.
The English Literature Subject Test asseses how well you can read and interpret literature. Questions focus on issues of theme, argument, tone, etc. It also tests you on rhetorical devices such as metaphors, similes, hyperbole, juxtaposition, and more.
All the foreign language tests measure a student’s reading ability in a specific language. Beyond that, you can opt to take the foreign language tests called “Language with Listening,” which examine both reading and listening skills. Languages available for testing include: French, German, Spanish, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
How are the SAT Subject Tests scored?
Each Subject Test is scored on a scale of 200–800.
How do I register for SAT Subject Test?