Last Updated: July 20, 2021
What is SAT?
SAT is a test administered by the College Board to measure the readiness of high school students to attend college/university. It is a pencil-and-paper test whose workability is solely based on the fact that the test provides a common assessment ground for colleges/universities when it comes to narrowing down the application forms. SAT test score is then reviewed alongside the GPA
and college application
which will act as a bonus and also show the amount of preparation that has gone into sending the application.
The exam is generally taken by students in the spring of their junior year or in the fall of their senior year. The advantage of taking SAT in junior year is that the test can then be retaken in case the average score leans toward the lower end of the score range. The exam is offered 7 times nationally in a year which generally comes up in the months of March, May, June, August, October, November, and December.
Students mostly remain confused about the prospect of taking SAT. It is a fact that many colleges and universities do not require SAT and one might prefer to choose such places for obvious reasons. It is to remove this confusion that this page is providing a curated list stating the reasons as to when and why candidates must take the SAT.
First of all, while SAT plays a critical role in college admissions, it also clears the path for various scholarships
. Even when colleges might not consider SAT scores for the admission process, a higher SAT score will aid in entering the list of SAT scholarship requirements. In specific cases, when the college of one’s choice does not provide SAT scholarships, they will always be able to find other organizations that offer a decent sum according to the score they have received. Generally speaking, a score above 1200 makes one eligible for scholarships. But the higher the score, the better the scholarship that can be procured. This can add up to even thousands of dollars in one’s college years.
Secondly, a decent SAT score compensates for a low GPA
. Whatever the reason for having a low GPA in high school, an above-average SAT score along with an excellent college application and a few letters of recommendation will guarantee admission in the seat of one’s choice. In such cases, SAT scores show the candidate’s credibility despite their high school performance and raise the bar that a GPA must have set.
Thirdly, SAT scores are universally accepted
and can be used after college
. By this, it means that an above-average SAT score can be added to one’s resume and that it will definitely boost their chances of getting hired at the first job. Competitive exams that are taken at any point in life will never be a wasted effort since their value is recognized universally and will compensate for any year gap or other drawbacks a profile may seem to hold.
The exam then is for gaining admission at a college/university of choice, but it is not limited to that alone. An above-average score can bring both money through educational scholarships from inside and outside the academic space along with that first dream job one has always wanted.
Registering for SAT
Candidates can register for SAT in two modes- either online or through the mail. The details for both these modes of registration will be given in detail below.
- Create a free account on the College Board site. Ensure that the examinee does this themselves since their parents/counselors will not be able to register for the candidate.
- Type in the identification details of the candidate including the candidate’s full, legal name as it appears in their photo ID.
- Fill in the details asked even if it is not mandatory. This plays an important role in availing scholarships later.
- Choose whether one is taking the exam with or without the Essay. This will depend on which college the candidate plans to apply to. It is considered safer to opt for the Essay since this decision cannot be changed post-registration.
- Find a test center that suits the candidate’s location and is a reasonable distance to commute to on the test day.
- Find a test date that is convenient for the candidate.
- Upload a photo after ensuring that it meets the requirements specified.
- Confirm details one last time. Print Admission Ticket.
This online registration can be done over a period of time and needn't be done in one sitting. But having all the materials at hand will make the whole process easier. It might take a maximum of 30 minutes to complete the registration.
Paper Registration/Registration by Mail
A Student Registration Booklet for SAT
can be collected from the school counselor and can be sent by mail. This should include an acceptable photo of the candidate and information regarding a form of payment. Ensure that the U.S. registration materials meet the U.S. deadlines. It should also be understood that late registration deadlines are different for both online registration and paper registration.
- Include a College Board code for the high school or a home-school code along with the test center.
- Include School Codes of colleges/universities that the candidate intends to apply to.
- Photo should be at least 2 x 2 inches and at most 2.5 x 3 inches in dimension.
- Write the candidate’s name, date of birth, and high school code behind the attached photograph.
- Photo should be taped over the barcode. Use clear Tape.
- Do NOT use paper clips, staples, or glue to attach the photo.
- Photo must be focused and should match the candidate’s appearance on test day. Old Photos are not allowed.
To avoid delays in processing applications sent through the mail, one must ensure that every field marked in red/marked required is filled. The applications sent can be rejected and returned to the candidate in case of the following reasons-
- Incomplete information.
- Lack of payment/payment details.
- Insufficient payment.
The SAT exam consists of two major sections which are Mathematics and Evidence-based Reading and Writing. It also includes an optional Essay section which can be written according to the policy of the college/university the candidate is applying to.
The duration of the exam is 3 hours with an additional 50 minutes given to the students who opt for the optional Essay section. This can be further broken down with the Reading Test taking up 65 minutes for 52 questions and the Writing and Language Test taking up 35 minutes for 44 questions.
The Math Test has two sections with one that permits the use of a calculator and another that doesn't permit the use of a calculator. The test without a calculator is held for 25 minutes and has 20 questions whereas the test with the calculator permitted is for 55 minutes and comprises 38 questions.
The optional Essay section is held after the Reading, Writing, and Math sections and is held for 50 minutes after the completion of the other sections.(This section will be removed from the official SAT test from June 2021)
Changes in SAT-2021
- SAT Subject Tests have been canceled by the College Board from the year 2021. The administration has decided that International Students will be able to write the Subject Tests for two more sessions, namely the ones in May and June of 2021. But students in the U.S. will not be able to write these exams anymore.
This includes students who have already registered for the current session that has been canceled. They will get their registration fees refunded after the automatic cancellation of registration- both in the online and offline mode.
- The College Board has also decided to discontinue the optional SAT Essay after the June 2021 session. After the June 2021 session, this section of the test will be provided only in states where it is required as per SAT School Day norms. Students who are taking exams in their schools may verify with the school about the availability of the optional Essay section in the test.
Skills Tested by SAT
The reading section in SAT consists of four individual passages along with a passage pair. Passages may contain tables, graphs, or charts. The passages may be mostly from topics like world literature, texts inspired from U.S. documents, Social Science related articles, or Science related ones.
The main skills that are tested are the critical aspects of reading and understanding passages which include a certain command over evidence. Through this, a student is expected to find evidence from passages to support their claims regarding answers and also to interpret diagrams. It also includes a certain ability to analyze the immediate information provided regarding Social Science and Science.
The Writing and Language section will be completely removed from fictitious writing and will demand argumentative or explanatory thinking. The questions will generally be to identify errors in grammatical structure which may be in punctuation, word choice, or word organization, and to rectify them from the options.
The Mathematics section has two subdivisions depending upon the accessibility of a calculator. The section without a calculator contains just 15 multiple choice questions and 5 grid-in questions that can be solved in 25 minutes. The next section has a total of 55 minutes allotted for 30 multiple-choice and 8 grid-in questions. Grid-in questions are questions that will not have answers provided as options but has to be solved by the candidate and answered in the space provided. There will also be an extended thinking problem that looks like a grid-in question but will have multiple questions regarding the word problem/graph/figure that is provided.
SAT exam is scored out of a total of 1600 and the candidate will receive scores on each sub-sections in the SAT report which includes Math, Reading, and Writing and Language. The test has no negative marking and encourages guessing over leaving answers unattended.
The total score will be a combination of both Reading/Writing and Math sections where both are graded within 800 and then added to obtain the overall score. The average SAT score
that an examinee can obtain is around 1000 which will increase to 1200 as a minimum for decent scholarships.
- Learn the logistics of the test after looking through the key concepts covered.
- Understand the patterns of questions and learn smart.
- Do Practice Tests incessantly.
- Keep in mind that it is not an IQ Test and do NOT fret over the score.
- Confidence is key.