Writing the SAT is the first step for every student looking forward to pursuing undergraduate education in countries such as the United States or Canada.
The test, conducted by the College Board, is a way of measuring a student’s academic aptitude. The SAT score is helpful for colleges in reviewing applications and shortlisting the best candidates. Read this insightful guide to understand the essential details of the SAT Reasoning test.
What is the SAT Reasoning Test?
The SAT Reasoning Test is a standardised test that helps universities evaluate applicants’ academic knowledge and analytical capabilities. The test has two major sections: The evidence-based reading and writing section (EBRW) and Math. Both sections are evaluated on a range scale of 200-800. So, the applicant can have an SAT score anywhere from 400 to a maximum test score of 1600. Earlier, an optional essay was required by several universities as an essential part of the test, which has now been discontinued. It is only offered in states where it is required for SAT School Day. The other exam variant, SAT Subject Test, has also been discontinued. Some essential points about the test are:Both sections of the EBRW questions are in multiple choice questions format.There are two Math sections, of which one has to be attempted with a calculator, while the other has to be done without a calculator. Most of the questions in the Math section are multiple choice questions, while a few are in the form of a grid.The duration of the exam is 3 hours.The time limit for the EBRW section is 100 minutes, while for both Math sections, it is 80 minutes.
SAT Exam Pattern
Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW)
The critical reading test comprises:
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- 52 Multiple choice questions covered in 5 passages to be attempted in 65 minutes.
- One literary passage from international works of fiction like novels or short stories.
- A single or pair of passages from U.S. founding documents or Great Global Conversation on topics such as freedom, human dignity, and justice.
- A selection of passages covering economics, sociology, psychology, etc.
- Two passages from a work of science.
- A passage in which students are expected to read and answer questions by telling a story, making an argument, or describing a study or experiment.
Types of Questions
Five categories of questions are covered in the SAT Reading Test:
Command and evidence: A total of 10 questions in the reading test are covered under the command and evidence section. These questions are all about testing the interpretation and analysis of data represented in graphics, analysis of evidence, producing a connection between text and graphics, and understanding the use of evidence by the author.
Rhetoric: These questions are about the tone, meaning, or style conveyed by the author of the text. The word choice questions focus more on effect rather than definition. Text structure questions can be handled with structural techniques like cause and effect or problem-solution.
Information and ideas: These types of questions focus on searching for information, whether direct or implied, looking for passages that describe information, analysis of main themes, identification of summation, etc.
Words in context: These types of questions are focussed on advanced vocabulary. As per the College Board, the focus should be on ‘high-utility academic words and phrases.
Synthesis: These questions are about making connections between two passages and drawing conclusions, or between passages and informational graphs like tables, graphs, and charts.
SAT Writing and Language Test
The writing and language test consists of 44 questions (MCQ) in 4 passages to be completed in 35 minutes.
- It requires test takers to revise and edit given passages.
- It explores various topics such as careers, humanities, science, history, and social science.
- It has different passage writing modes: narrative, informative/explanatory, and argumentative.
Types of Questions
The types of questions covered in the writing test are:
Expression of idea: The test taker has to improve the organisation, structure of the passage, how it is being articulated and the overall effectiveness of the language. The candidates will be required to place a specific part of the passage in the correct place. For this, clues will have to be picked from the passage itself. The developmental questions will focus on improving the passage by omitting or adding information. Also, effective language use focuses on the use of precise, accurate and correct information.
Standard English Conventions: The test focuses on using standard English conventions such as agreement, word choice, and conjugation. The sentence structure focussing on identifying independent and dependent clauses, transition usage, and conjunction form the second essential part.
The math test of SAT is divided into two sub-parts: Maths with a calculator and Math without a calculator.
- The number of questions to be attempted are 58.
- The time duration is 80 minutes.
- Maths with a calculator has 30 MCQs and 8 grid-in questions.
- Grids in questions require candidates to enter the derived answers in the grid provided in the bubble sheet.
- Maths without a calculator has 15 MCQ and 5 grid-in questions.
- A set of formulas and references are provided at the start of the test.
- Specific attention is given in the section to students going for science, technology, engineering, or maths.
- The questions are real-life settings from topics taken from fields such as science, social studies, or career.
Types of Questions
The math section of the exam comprises three different types of math questions:
Heart of algebra: Manipulate, create, and solve algebraic equations such as linear equations and systems.
Data analysis and problem-solving: Interpretation of graphs and tables, solving problems in real-world situations, making use of ratios, percentages, and proportional reasoning.
Passport to advanced math: Work on, solve, and manipulate some complex equations and functions of maths. A few additional questions are from topics such as area and volume, coordinate geometry, and basic trigonometry.
Tips for SAT Reasoning Test
- Online study material can be bought from the college board during registration.
- Different practice tests must be attempted to analyse weak areas.
- Work on the feedback to rectify the flaws and ensure the correct answer to each question in the test.
- Read the instructions given in the test thoroughly for each section before attempting the questions.
- Since there is no negative marking on the test, do not leave any questions unanswered.
- Avoid mistakes by reading each question thoroughly without skipping any essential details.
SAT is a crucial exam which is considered by top universities for admissions to undergraduate programs. The exam is conducted five times a year in India – March, May, August, October, and December.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a good SAT score help me get scholarships?
Yes, a candidate can get scholarships through the universities offering them, but only if they score the minimum SAT score prescribed by the institute. The College Board India Scholars Program offers the SAT scholarship for Indian students. To avail of the scholarship, your SAT score should be above 1,300 (Out of 1,600) and the yearly family income should be less than ₹8 lakh.
What is SAT Superscore?
The SAT Superscore is basically when an applicant has attempted the test multiple times, and the highest score achieved by them in each section is considered by the College Board irrespective of the attempt. This helps students maximise their chance of getting selected for the course of their choice in the university of their preference.
What do I need to carry for my SAT exam?
The candidate must carry the following documents for the SAT: a valid photo ID, admission ticket, pencils with erasers and an acceptable calculator.