About the SAT Reasoning TestTM
The SAT Reasoning TestTM is the most widely used and most rigorously researched college admissions test in history. Virtually every college in the United States accepts the SAT® as a measure of the critical thinking skills students need for academic success in college. Taken by more than two million students annually, the SAT is administered seven times a year internationally.
The SAT is a reasoning test, meaning that it measures how well students analyze and solve problems—skills learned in high school that are needed in college. It allows students to demonstrate to colleges not only the specific subject material that they’ve learned in school, but also their ability to think critically.
What is SAT?
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.
Taking the SAT is the first step in finding the right college for you — the place where you can further develop your skills and pursue your passions. But SAT scores are just one of many factors that colleges consider when making their admission decisions. High school grades are also very important. In fact, the combination of high school grades and SAT scores is the best predictor of your academic success in college.
• The critical reading section includes reading passages and sentence completions.
• The writing section includes a short essay and multiple-choice questions on identifying errors and improving grammar and usage.
• The mathematics section includes questions on arithmetic operations, algebra, geometry, statistics and probability.
The critical reading section consists of 67 questions in two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section (70 minutes total). It measures students’ ability to identify genre, relationships among parts of a text, cause and effect, rhetorical devices, and comparative arguments. Questions assess such reading skills as identifying main and supporting ideas, determining the meaning of words, understanding authors’ purposes, and understanding the structure and function of sentences. Reading passages are taken from different fields, including natural sciences, humanities, social sciences, and literary fiction.
The math section consists of 54 questions in two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section (70 minutes total). It includes topics such as numbers and operations; algebra and functions; geometry and measurement; and data analysis, statistics, and probability, and it places emphasis on topics such as linear functions, manipulations with exponents, and properties of tangent lines. Students are asked to apply concepts they have learned to solve problems in flexible ways, often in real-world applications.
The one-hour writing section consists of one essay question (25 minutes) and 49 multiple-choice questions (2 parts totaling 35 minutes). It measures a student’s mastery of developing and expressing ideas effectively. The essay, which is always the first question on the SAT, measures a student’s skill in developing a point of view on an issue. The multiple-choice section assesses a student’s ability to use language in a clear, consistent manner and to improve a piece of writing through revision and editing. Questions ask students to recognize sentence errors, to choose the best version of a piece of writing, and to improve paragraphs.
There is also a 25-minute unscored section, known as the variable or equating section. It may be a critical reading, math, or multiple-choice writing section. This section does not count toward the student’s final score, but is used to try out new questions for future editions of the SAT and to ensure that scores on new editions of the SAT are comparable to scores on earlier editions of the test.
Studies suggest that cramming and short-term prep can’t substitute for hard work in school, but it’s certainly a good idea for you to become familiar and comfortable with the test format and question types. That’s why the best SAT practice is the PSAT/NMSQT®, which covers the same subjects under timed conditions.
Remember, a little practice goes a long way.
Every college and university uses a different combination of criteria for admission. Feel free to reach out to the schools you’re interested in to understand their unique admission policies.
• Reviewed by a team of experts, including math and English teachers, to make sure that it reflects what most college-bound students are learning in school.
• Thoroughly tested to make sure that it is fair for students of all backgrounds and ethnicities.
Questions that don’t make it through these steps will never show up on an actual exam.
The SAT score report includes detailed information about a student’s performance, comparing it with that of other test-takers. Each report provides a breakdown of the student’s scores and information about what those scores mean. Students also have access to their scored essays as part of the online score report, along with a score-reporting history. Their information from the SAT Questionnaire is also displayed. Counselors can use these reports to guide students as they make decisions about taking high school courses, applying to college, and choosing a major.
Visit www.collegeboard.com/prof/counselors for a detailed explanation of the score report.
> What’s a SAT good score now?
SAT scores help students measure their own college readiness. Students should use their scores to help them find a good match with colleges, which have differing levels of competitiveness and different definitions of what a
“good” score is. We recommend that students look at each of their scores separately, as this is a better measure of their readiness/skill level in each area. That said, the writing score is similar in range to the critical reading and math scores. If a student thought a “good” score was 600 x 2 for two sections, then a comparable score would now be 600 x 3.
> What is an average writing score?
Until more students have taken the new SAT, we won’t have a true average, but it should be in the neighborhood of the national averages for critical reading (508 for 2004) and math (514 for 2004). National averages are announced in August each year.
> How do I determine whether my writing scores are good or not without percentiles? How can they figure this out, or even guess at it?
We expect percentiles for writing to be in the same general range as the percentiles for math and critical reading. Therefore, if a student’s writing score is similar to one of his or her other scores, the percentile will likely be similar as well.
> How do I get copies of my essays?
Out of respect for student privacy, the College Board doesn’t send student essays to high schools, but we encourage students to share their essays with the counselors and teachers to help them understand how to improve their writing skills and how they might be better prepared if they decide to take the SAT again.
> Other than providing them with a number, how are SAT scores useful to students?
SAT scores and percentiles give students an idea of how their test performance compares with others’. Although not as important as high school grades, SAT scores are an important factor in many colleges’ admission decisions.
*Click here to see the content