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Suniti's Advice Corner

Guide to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the SAT

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Fri, Mar 17, 2017

What is the SAT? 
The SAT is a 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. 

Still not convinced? Read our blog on Why the SAT is important!

What is the SAT scored out of?

The SAT is out of a total of 1600 points. Evidence based reading + writing are two separate tests each count for 400 points, for a total of 800. The math section is scored out of 800 points.

TABLE: What is on the SAT? How long is the SAT?

The SAT tests you for your math, evidence-based reading & writing skills. The entire test takes 3 hours (plus 50-minute optional essay).

Section # of Questions & Length Topics Included
(800 points)

58 Questions

80 Minutes
Algebra, Problem Solving & Data Analysis, Quadratic & Higher order equations, Arithmetic operations, Geometry, Basic Trigonometry. Includes one 25 minute no-calculator section. Questions are mostly in multiple choice and a few free response formats.
(400 points)

52 Questions

65 Minutes
Evidence based reading & writing, focusing on analysis of History/Social Studies, Science, Data & Informational graphics and vocabulary in context.
Writing & Language (400 Points)

44 Questions

35 Minutes
Essay (Optional) (Scored Separately)

1 Free Response Question

50 Minutes
Tests reading, analysis and writing skills; students produce a written analysis of a provided text.

When should I take the SAT?

Most students take the test 2nd semester of their junior (11th grade) year. Definitely plan to be finished with your SAT by October/November of Senior year.

Do I need to prepare for the SAT? 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 (10th grade) 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.

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 at least 2 times, and 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. Learn more about why studying for the PSAT can be benefitial.

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?

Yes and no! The SAT has one no-calculator section where calculator use is not allowed. For the other section, however, you may use your calculator. Make sure that you check what types of calculators are allowed! For more Calculator tips, click here.

TABLE: How much does it cost to take the SAT? 

Although the price can vary slightly each year, the registration fee for the 2016-2017 school year is as follows:

Region Fee (USD) Additional Fee (USD)
United States $57 (with Essay)
$45 (without Essay)
Africa (Sub-Saharan), Americas $57 (with Essay)
$45 (without Essay)
East Asia/Pacific $57 (with Essay)
$45 (without Essay)
Europe/Eurasia $57 (with Essay)
$45 (without Essay)
Middle East/North Africa $57 (with Essay)
$45 (without Essay)
South & Central Asia $57 (with Essay)
$45 (without Essay)

Are there any special allowances for students with disabilities?

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


Do you have more questions about the SAT? Speak with a TestRocker expert:  Schedule Now

Tags: For Students, For Parents, For Counselors, sat, New SAT, International Students, questions, faq

About Suniti

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

TestRocker is a one of a kind online SAT/ACT program that empowers students to take control of their test preparation. After taking our diagnostic test a customized study plan, individualized to students' strengths/weaknesses, allows them to track progress as they work through the program. Each of the 1,200 SAT & 2000 ACT questions on TestRocker are accompanied by video explanations from Suniti. Parents are able to track their child’s progress through biweekly reports.

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