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What is the SAT?

Posted on Aug 20, 2018
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The SAT or the Scholastic Aptitude Test is a globally recognized college admissions test that consists of two subject area tests – Math and Evidence-Based Writing and Reading. Each will be scored on a scale of 200 to 800 points. The essay is optional and will not be factored into your overall SAT score. The essay scores will be shown separately on the report. The exam will have 154 questions and is 3 hours long (plus 50 minutes if you are taking the essay).

You can retake the exam as many times as you like, however in general we have found scores do not significantly change after 3 attempts.

Should I take the SAT or ACT?

Before making the decision on which exam to take, it is strongly recommended that you browse through the study books of both, take a diagnostic test, and see which one is better for you. You may be naturally drawn to one test over the other. From an admissions standpoint, most universities accept both the SAT and the ACT. So your primary criterion for selection should be where you think you can score higher.

When should I take the SAT or ACT?

It is strongly recommended that you take your chosen exams as early as possible, ideally in the 11th grade. This not only gives you a good indication of potential colleges on your radar, but also allows you to then focus your time and resources on other aspects of the intensive college preparation process. Also, should you need to retake any of the tests, you are not rushed at the last minute.

What are the SAT II Subject Tests?

There are a number of colleges that require the SAT II (also known as SAT Subject Tests), in addition to the ACT or SAT. These tests are hour-long and content-based, and they allow you to showcase achievement in specific subject areas in which you excel. There are 20 SAT Subject Tests in five general subject areas: English, History, Languages, Mathematics and Science.

• You will want to take the tests that are required or recommended by the colleges that you’re interested in. For example, if you wish to study engineering, then Math may be required. Also consider subjects that you excel in or may want to major in, to showcase your strengths and interests.

• The score for subject tests range from 200 to 800, and yes, you can retake them. Colleges will usually look at your best score.

As you navigate the college search process, make sure you check your university or college website to first identify if (a) Subject Tests are required, (b) how many are required, and (c) if any particular subject is stipulated.