SAT is an acronym for Scholastic Assessment Test and is used in the application process to colleges and universities in the United States.
The test measures critical thinking skills and the ability to analyze and solve problems and is often thought of as a measure of future college success.
The SAT test is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) at various locations across the country, and it is developed, published, and scored by the College Board.
The SAT is a standardized test meant to show schools how prepared a student is for college by measuring key skills like reading comprehension, computational ability, and clarity of expression.
Because so many students take the test, it also provides schools with data about how you compare to your peers nationwide
You’ll almost certainly need to take the SAT or ACT if you’re applying to any colleges or universities in the United States, since most require you to submit test scores with your application.
Depending on where you want to apply, your ACT or SAT score can account for as much as 50% of the admission decision, so a strong standardized test score is vital.
HOW SAT IS SCORED
When you take the SAT, you’ll be given a total score between 600 and 2400, which is the sum of reading, math, and writing scores between 200 and 800. But where do those numbers come from?
You start with a raw score for each topic area: the number of questions you got right minus ¼ times the number you answered incorrectly. That number is then converted into a scaled score through a process called equating—the College Board is a bit cagey about how exactly this works, but it’s based on years’ worth of data rather than how people do on a specific test date.
The average SAT score hovers around 1500 with some variation from year to year, but what counts as a good score for you will really depend on where you’re looking to apply. To get into a top-tier school you’ll probably need a score above 2000, but for the local branch of the state university you might be just fine with a 1400.
Note that the redesigned SAT includes some big changes to the scoring: it’s returning to original 400-1600 scale (you’ll receive a Math score and a Reading/Writing score) and getting rid of the wrong answer penalty.
HOW TO REGISTER FOR SAT
The SAT test is given seven times a year.
Specific test dates and test locations can be found online on the College Board’s website.
There are two ways to register for the SAT test, online or by mail.
Online registration is completed on the website of the College Board.
In order to register by mail, one needs a copy of the SAT Registration Booklet.
This booklet can be obtained from a high school counselor, and it contains the registration form and envelope, as well as registration instructions.
All fees must be paid when registering, whether online or by mail, and fee information can be found online or in the SAT Registration Booklet.
To learn more and to register for the SAT, visit the College Board registration information page.
Once you’ve registered for the SAT, use Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy to get a personalized plan to prepare for test day.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR SAT
You have to perform well on the SAT exam in order to have your pick of colleges, but where do you start?
Well here are few tips to help you out:
1. Do a lot of reading
The SAT is very heavy on reading—you’ll have five long, dense passages one after another in an hour. It’s not that the questions are difficult. Indeed, they are pretty straightforward. But it’s the reading part that is tough, because your brain will likely run out of energy sometime during the section.
To prevent this from happening, do lots of nonfiction reading when preparing for the SAT. The reason is four of the five passages you’ll see will be nonfiction. High school reading curriculum tends to lean mostly towards fiction. To counterbalance that—and prepare for SAT reading in general—pick up a magazine (Time for the newbies, The New Yorker for the more ambitious) or a newspaper (The New York Times is excellent all around).
Since your “reading brain” won’t sprout overnight, this is an area in which you’ll want to get a jumpstart. So hit the books (er, online magazines) now.
2. Learn mental math
One of the two Math sections on the SAT will not allow you to use a calculator. However, you don’t have to get stuck doing equations with only a no. 2 pencil.
Prepare for SAT Math by using your brain as your “mental calculator.” You’ll save a lot of time on test day if you know the answer to, say, 3 × 13 right off the bat. Not sure where to start? Magoosh’s free, downloadable Math eBook has shortcuts and example problems to make mental math easier.
3. Improve on grammar
Almost half of the Verbal section is made up of grammar questions. While many have to do with “big picture” essay questions, others rely on basic grammar. You might dread the thought of learning grammar, but it is one of the easiest topics to improve on when preparing for the SAT.
4. Use full-length practice test
There are essentially three different parts to the SAT test: Math, Reading, and Writing and Language. Often when students prep they think, Hey, I’ll just do a bunch of math tonight. Studies have shown that it is much more beneficial to do practice sessions in which you do, say, 35 minutes of Math practice and 35 minutes of Writing and Language practice. This will mimic what you’ll do on test day, switching from section to section.
Our free, full-length practice test is a great way to prepare for SAT test day—you’ll be comfortable with the format, as well as switching between sections after a certain time limit.
5. Work on your weaknesses
You’ll naturally be good at some things on the SAT, and it’s good to maintain that edge by practicing those concepts from time to time. But it is better to figure out where you struggle. Take a diagnostic test to see which areas you need to work on when preparing for the SAT.
6. Find a study partner
Don’t go at it alone. Find a partner (or two!) and keep each other accountable when preparing for the SAT. Share strategies, resources, and SAT study tips. Test each other, compete against each other, and, most importantly, commiserate with each other. The SAT is a rite of passage, full of its ups and downs. It is best not to go at it alone.
7. Hire a Private Tutor
Having your very own tutor for the SAT sounds like a dream but can be the greatest support you might need.
A good tutor is truly invaluable. They’ll help you make a study plan, identify your weaknesses, explain concepts you’re shaky on, and help you come up with an SAT strategy that works best for you.
From a high-quality tutoring professional, tutoring both provides you with an expert to guide you and takes the guesswork out of creating a study plan.
Additionally, a tutor can help keep you motivated!