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Suniti's Advice Corner

TestRocker's Guide to the Most Commonly Asked Questions About the SAT

Posted by Sybil St. Hilaire on Wed, Mar 20, 2013

This weekend TestRocker had the pleasure of Latino College Expoparticipating in the 23rd annual Latino College Expo and Youth Summit. In addition to hosting a SAT workshop, we also enjoyed the opportunity to meet the enthusiastic students and their families.  At the end of that workshop we shared “TestRocker’s Guide to Commonly Asked Questions about the SAT” with all of our attendees. The resource was so well-received that we could not wait to share it with the members of our TestRocker community. Read on to get acquainted with the SAT basics!

 What is the SAT®?

The SAT® is widely accepted standardized college admission test that helps Colleges assess your academic ability and potential in comparison with the rest of the applicants in your graduating class across the world.  Since the test is standardized, it helps level the playing field so that students from all backgrounds have an equal chance to succeed.
Why should I take the SAT®?
1. It’s a requirement: Most universities require a standardized test score (either SAT® or ACT) as part of the college application.
2. Scholarships: Many universities use your SAT® score to see if they can provide you with merit-based scholarships.   

What is the SAT® scored out of?
The SAT® is out of a total of 2400 points.  Each of the three sections (math, reading and writing) counts for 800 points.  

What’s on the SAT®, and how long is the test?
The SAT® tests you for your math problem solving, writing and reading comprehension skills.  The entire test takes 3 hours and 45 minutes (including 3 short breaks).  

  Mins Total Mins Content
Writing (essay) 25 60 The essay measures a student's ability to develop and express a point of view on an issue.
Writing (MC) 25 The multiple-choice questions ask students to:
  1. Recognize sentence errors
  2. Choose the best version of a piece of writing
  3. Improve paragraphs
Writing (MC) 10
Critical reading (MC) 25 70 The questions assess students' reading skills, such as:
  1. Identifying main and supporting ideas
  2. Determining the meaning of words in context
  3. Understanding authors' purposes
  4. Understanding the structure and function of sentences
Critical reading (MC) 25
Critical reading (MC) 20
Mathematics (MC & Free Response) 25 70 The questions require students to apply mathematical concepts and to use data literacy skills in interpreting tables, charts and graphs. They cover skills in four major areas:
  1. Number and operations
  2. Algebra and functions
  3. Geometry and measurement
  4. Data analysis, statistics and probability
Mathematics (MC) 25
Mathematics (multiple choice) 20
Variable (unscored, multiple choice) 25 25 This section may have critical reading, mathematics or multiple-choice writing questions. It does not count toward the final score.

*Above chart from collegeboard.org
  MC stands for multiple choice
When should I take the SAT®?  

Most students take the test 2nd semester of their junior year. Definitely plan to be finished with your SATs
by October of Senior year.  In the United States, the SAT® is administered 7 times a year (January, March,
May, June, October, November, and December). For international students the SAT is administered 6 times a year (January, May, June, October, November, and December).  

SAT test

Do I need to prepare for the SAT®? If yes, when should I start preparing for the SAT®?  

Yes, you should definitely prepare for the SAT®.  Everyone has the ability to improve, and you want your SAT® score to match your potential so that you can get in to the best possible schools.  Start preparing for the SAT® any time after your Sophomore year.  Summer is a great time to start because you actually have time to prepare. You should prepare ahead of time – don’t leave it till the last minute. TestRocker is a great resource, after taking a diagnostic test and having their customized study plan created, users are able to study when and where they want to. 

How many times can I take the SAT®?  

Although you can take the SAT® as many times as you want, we recommend that you take it no more than 3 or 4 times.  

What is the PSAT? Why & When should I take the PSAT? How is the PSAT different from the SAT®?  

Think of the PSAT as a baby brother of the SAT®. It serves as a practice test to show you what the SAT® is like.  For most students, the PSAT serves as a good wake up call to start thinking about college application process.  The PSAT is administered in October.  While you can take the PSAT as a Sophomore, you should definitely take it as a Junior as your PSAT score could qualify you to enter National Merit Scholarship programs.  The only real difference between the PSAT and SAT® is that the PSAT does not have an essay section.
How do I sign up for the SAT®?  

You can register online at SAT.collegeboard.org.  Make sure you check the registration deadline well in advance!  Also make sure to check the nearest SAT® testing center to you – it might not be administered in your school.
Can I use a calculator for the math sections?  SAT testtaker 

Yes, use of calculators is encouraged for the Math sections.  Make sure that you check what types of calculators are allowed!
How much does it cost to take the SAT®?  

Although the price can vary slightly each year, the registration fee for the 2012-2013 school year is $50.
Are there any special allowances for students with disabilities?  

Yes, the SAT® test can accommodate students with disabilities, once correct documentation has been provided and validated by the College Board. Contact the College Board for more information.  

Tags: For Students, For Parents, For Counselors

About Suniti

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Suniti is the creator of TestRocker, an online learning platform that helps you unlock your dream PSAT, SAT and ACT scores. TestRocker is based on Suniti’s highly successful and proven method of teaching thousands of students how to maximize their PSAT, SAT and ACT scores for over a decade.

TestRocker is an award-winning PSAT/SAT/ACT program that empowers students to take control of their test preparation. After taking a diagnostic test, students receive a customized study plan, individualized to their strengths/weaknesses. Students practice and learn concepts through videos. Each of the 2000+ questions on TestRocker is accompanied by a video explanation from Suniti. TestRocker has the largest video library in the world for PSAT/SAT/ACT preparation. 

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