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A comprehensive guide to the SAT

Seeking admission abroad for undergraduate studies isn’t a walk in the park, especially since you have to compete with millions of students for a few thousand seats. Hence, it is crucial to prove your mettle to the college admission board through your SAT scores.

What is the SAT exam?

The Scholastic Assessment Test (earlier Scholastic Aptitude Test) is a standardized test conducted by the College Board for students who wish to study abroad, especially in the USA and Canada. It is a pencil-paper MCQ test that evaluates your written, verbal and mathematical skills.

Types of SAT

There are two kinds of SAT:

  • SAT 1 (Scholastic Assessment Test)
  • SAT 2 (Subject Tests)

The SAT 1 is a generalized test that assesses your English, Mathematics, Science, verbal and written skills. Meanwhile, the SAT 2 is a more subject-focused examination to gauge your mastery in subjects like English, Mathematics, Biology E/M, Physics, Chemistry, World History, US History, Foreign Languages, etc.

However, the College Board has discontinued Subject Tests in the USA from June 2021. Only a few colleges require/recommend the Subject Tests. So, it’s best to check the admission criteria thoroughly.

Big changes in the SAT exam

There have been several notable changes in the SAT exam in recent years:

Discontinuation of subject tests

The College Board has discontinued SAT Subject Tests for the USA from June 2021.

Optional for many institutions

Due to the COVID-19 lockdown travel and public gathering restrictions, millions of students could not take the SAT in 2020-2021. As a result, many institutions have made SAT optional.

Taking the digital leap

The College Board has announced that SAT will go digital from 2023-2024. Students will be able to take the exam online from designated test centers. Other notable changes you must take note of are:

  1. - Exam duration will be of two hours instead of three
  2. - Permission to use calculators for the Quantitative section
  3. - A wider range of topics for Reading Comprehension
  4. - Extra time between questions and sections
  5. - Quick results within a few days of taking the exam

Why should you take the SAT?

  • Several universities in the USA and Canada have made SAT scores compulsory for admission to undergraduate programs
  • Higher SAT scores make you eligible for scholarships
  • Jobs abroad might require you to submit your SAT scores
  • Good SAT scores give your college application a boost
  • Takes place 4 times a year, providing plenty of time to prepare thoroughly
  • SAT exam fees are more affordable than ACT or other standardized tests
  • No complex science questions to confound students from a non-science background
  • No negative markings for incorrect answers

SAT v/s ACT: Which test should you take?

Most educational institutions in the USA require SAT or ACT (American College Testing) scores for admission to their undergraduate degree programs. High scores in both can grant you excellent scholarships to fund your higher education abroad. However, if you're stuck wondering which exam to take, this comparison chart can help you out:

SAT ACT
1.

Contains science-related sections but no complex all-out science questions.

1.

The science section contains 40 questions and focuses more on data interpretation than factual questions.

2.

The SAT Mathematics section contains less than 10% geometry and less than 5% trigonometry.

2.

Approximately 30-45% of Mathematics questions focus on geometry, while approx. 7% focus on trigonometry.

3.

Does not test matrices and logarithms.

3.

Tests on matrices and logarithms.

4.

Tests on matrices and logarithms.

4.

Does not provide any math formulas.

5.

Test structure contains Reading, Writing & Language, Math, and Essay (optional – discontinued by the College Board from June 2021 in many places).

5.

Test structure contains English, Math, Reading, Science Reasoning, and Essay (optional).

6.

Provides more time for each section.

6.

You'll be under a time constraint.

The academic year 2020 saw 2.2 million candidates for the SAT and 1.7 million students for the ACT. In addition, an increased number of students opt for both.

However, it's best to remember that neither is easier than the other. Both tests have their pros and cons depending on your preferences. So, it's best to check whether the college you wish to apply to requires an SAT or ACT score. If luck is on your side, they'll accept either.

SAT highlights

Exam name: SAT
Full name: Scholastic Assessment Test (formerly, Scholastic Aptitude Test)
Useful for: Admission to undergraduate courses in the USA and Canada
Conducted by: The College Board
Mode of exam: Paper-based MCQ exam (with online version coming in 2023-2024)
Score range: 400-1600 points

SAT exam eligibility

The College Board has not mentioned any specific eligibility criteria to take the SAT examination.

Age limit

There is no specific age limit to appearing for the SATs. However, since SAT scores are required to gain admission to undergraduate courses in the USA and Canada, it is recommended that you should be at least 15 years old (11th standard) before taking the exam.

Number of attempts for the SAT exams

While there’s no upper limit to the total number of times you can take the SAT, the ideal limit is 4. Too many attempts can send a wrong signal to the colleges and make it seem like you're not serious about the exam. So, avoid more than 5 attempts at the test.

Educational eligibility criteria

There are no specific education criteria for the SATs. However, given the questions and topics you'd have to answer, it's best to attempt the exam in the 10th-12th standard.

ID proof

On the exam day, you must carry ID proof to enter the test center. Here’s a list of valid ID proofs:

  1. - Government-issued valid driver’s license
  2. - School-issued student ID card from the school you attend currently
  3. - Government-issued valid passport
  4. - Government-issued ID proofs (for example, the Aadhar Card in India)
  5. - School/Notary issued SAT Student ID form
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SAT exam registration

You can register for the SAT via online and offline modes.

SAT online registration:

  1. - Visit the official College Board website
  2. - Log in to your existing account/create a new one
  3. - Fill out your personal details
  4. - Create a student profile
  5. - Select your test type and center
  6. - Choose the test date
  7. - Upload your picture (front face with shoulder view)
  8. - Submit the SAT exam fees

SAT offline registration

You can also register for the SAT via mail. For that, you need to:

  1. - Acquire ‘The Student Registration Guide for the SAT and SAT Subject Tests’ from your school
  2. - Fill out the registration form carefully
  3. - Send the form along with a demand draft

How to cancel SAT exam?

If you wish to cancel your SAT exam, you can do so from your My SAT account on the College Board's official website.

  1. - Sign in to your My SAT account
  2. - Select the registration you wish to cancel
  3. - Click on 'Cancel Registration' from the 'I would like to' menu

How to reschedule SAT exam?

Schedules can change without warning. That’s why you have the option to reschedule your SAT. For that, you must:

  1. - Sign in to your My SAT account
  2. - Click on ‘Change Registration’ for the test date you wish to change
  3. - Get redirected to a new page with your SAT admission ticket information
  4. - Click on ‘Change my test date’
  5. - Get redirected to a page with ‘Test Date’ where you can select a new date
  6. - Select the test center and confirm your personal details
  7. - Pay the reschedule fee
  8. - Receive the email confirmation with the new test date and admission ticket

SAT test day requirements

On the day of the test, you should bring:

  • - A printout of the updated admission ticket
  • - Valid photo ID proof
  • - Two no. 2 pencils and an eraser
  • - An approved calculator (graphing calculators & scientific calculators)

SAT photo requirements

When registering for the SAT, you need to provide a recent photo. On the day of the test, the staff at the test center will compare the photo on your ID proof to the one you upload. So, you must follow the photo requirements:

  1. - Acceptable file formats for the photo are .jpg, .png, .gif
  2. - Your face must be easy to recognize
  3. - You must be alone in the picture
  4. - The photo should have a head-to-shoulders view with a full-frontal face, both eyes and hair clearly visible
  5. - The photo must be in focus
  6. - There should not be any dark spots of shadow
  7. - Black and white images are acceptable

SAT exam fees

The SAT exam fees are:

  1. - SAT exam without the optional essay – Base fee for the SAT exam ($55) + non-USA regional fee [For India, the price is $49, which hikes the total to $104]
  2. - SAT exam with the optional essay - Base fee for the SAT exam ($68) + non-USA regional fee [Including the regional price in India, the total is $117]

SAT payment methods

You can complete the payment process for SAT using:

  1. - Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, Diners Club, Discover
  2. - PayPal: Unavailable in Ghana

SAT scholarships

Funding higher education abroad can be an expensive affair. That’s why the College Board has partnered with several universities across the USA, Canada and other countries to provide merit-based scholarships to students with high SAT scores.

Impressive SAT scores and an excellent academic track record can land you an automatic scholarship at universities like:

Colorado state university

University of oregon

Utah state university

Georgia state university

Texas tech university

Clemson university

And more! The merit-based scholarships you can aim for are:

CIA undergraduate scholarship program

Deana’s wish memorial scholarship

Pacific gas and electric company asian ERG scholarship

Texas armed services scholarship program

MSLP governor’s best and brightest scholarship

Elks national foundation scholarship program

Jackie robinson foundation scholarship

Coca-Cola scholars foundation scholarship

SAT exam dates 2022

The SAT exams are conducted seven times a year. The month and date change depending on your country and the available dates at your nearest test centers. The anticipated upcoming dates for the exam in 2022 are:

August 27, 2022
October 1,2022
December 3, 2022

SAT test centers

There are several authorized SAT centers located worldwide. For example, India has over 50 centers across 30 cities, including Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Delhi NCR, etc. Check the official College Board website for a complete list of all the available test centers in every country.

SAT test day checklist

  1. - An updated printout of the admission ticket
  2. - A valid photo ID proof
  3. - Face covering (post-COVID)
  4. - Two no. 2 pencils
  5. - Soft eraser
  6. - Transparent bag
  7. - An approved calculator
  8. - Auto-injectors (EpiPens)
  9. - Water and snacks

SAT exam pattern

The SAT contains two main sections – Evidence-based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and Mathematics. In addition, there is an optional essay section that has been recently discontinued since 2021. The SAT essay is only available in states where the essay score is required for SAT School Day administrations. Therefore, the pattern for 2022 is as follows:

Section Sub-sections No. of Questions Duration (in minutes) Score Range
Evidence-based Reading & Writing Reading test 52 65 200-800
Writing & Language test 44 35
Mathematics Without a calculator 20 25 25
With a calculator 38 55

SAT exam syllabus

Since the SAT evaluates your Reading, Writing and Mathematics skills, the syllabus you need to cover for each section is:

Reading

  1. - Passages from American or international works of fiction
  2. - Sections from the US founding documents and Great Global Conversation (justice, freedom, etc.)
  3. - Sections of psychology, economics, sociology, history & arts, etc.
  4. - Passages from works of science

Writing & language

The topics you'll encounter will be from:

  1. - Career
  2. - Science
  3. - Humanities
  4. - Social Science
  5. - History
  6. - Narrative/argumentative/explanatory passage writing

Mathematics

The mathematics syllabus consists of:

  1. - Percentages
  2. - Ratio & Proportion
  3. - Mean, median, mode, standard deviation
  4. - Conditional frequencies and probabilities
  5. - Data collection
  6. - Unit conversion
  7. - Linear function (graphical representations)
  8. - Linear inequalities
  9. - Linear equations with rational coefficients
  10. - Quadratic equations with rational coefficients
  11. - Polynomial equations
  12. - Function notation

SAT score

The SAT score ranges between 400 to 1600 in total, with each section (Evidence-based reading & writing and Mathematics) on a scale of 200-800. The average SAT score of the class of 2020 was 1051.

SAT score report

Your SAT score report contains the following information:

  1. - Total obtained score: By adding your individual scores of EBRW and Mathematics
  2. - Sectional score: The marks obtained in the EBRW and Mathematics
  3. - Sub-scores: Range from 1 to 15 and provide a clearer idea of your score distribution
  4. - Essay score: If taken (Note – this section has been discontinued except in a few states)
  5. - Student’s percentile: Provides you with an idea of how well you have performed in comparison to other test-takers

How to send SAT scores?

When registering for the SAT, every test-taker gets to send four free score reports within 9 days of taking the test to the colleges of their choice. However, there's a catch! These scores are tentative and might not be your best. So, to send your best scores after receiving your actual results, you must pay an additional $12 to send the scores to the universities. To send this SAT score, you must:

  1. - Sign in to your College Board account
  2. - Go to Send SAT Scores page
  3. - Search for the colleges to send your scores to
  4. - Add one or more colleges to the recipient list
  5. - Click on continue
  6. - Choose to send specific scores or all scores
  7. - Review your order
  8. - Check out

How is SAT scored?

The total score you can receive in your SAT ranges from 400 to 1600, with each of the two sections (EBRW and Mathematics) being 200-800 each. However, the calculation is slightly tricky.

For the Evidence-based reading & writing and Mathematics sections, you receive an initial raw score within the 10-40 scale. This raw score is then converted to the 200-800 scale.

How to cancel your SAT score?

If you feel unsure about your SAT, you can cancel your scores in two ways:

1. At the test center – When unsatisfied with your performance, you can immediately cancel your SAT score at the test center. Fill out the details in the 'Request to Cancel Test Scores' form along with your signature and submit it to your supervisor.

2. At home – Once you reach home and the doubt starts to set in, you can cancel your test at home by writing to the College Board ASAP. The deadline for submitting a score cancellation request is 11:59 PM IST Wednesday after the test date. Then, just download the ‘Request to Cancel Test Scores’ form from the official College Board website, fill it out, and fax/speed post it.

SAT exam preparation

There’s no shortage of SAT preparation books to help you familiarize yourself with the exam pattern and question types. However, of the hundreds of books available, the most notable ones are:

KALLIS' "SAT pattern strategy, 3rd edition"

McGraw hill education's "SAT elite 2022"

Barron's "SAT study guide premium, 2021-2022"

Kaplan's "SAT prep plus 2022"

The princeton review's "SAT premium prep, 2022"

These books have an excellent collection of sample papers and critical tips to help you ace your exam.

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Frequently asked questions

You need to choose a program that you want to pursue after high school or graduation. Next, check if your dream university includes that course in its curriculum. If not, you need to look for other similar better options. Don’t worry if you are confused. Our team is here to guide you thoroughly about study abroad options.

The requirements vary depending on what and where you want to study. Primarily, you need to show your previous academic credentials and study abroad readiness. Each abroad university follows its own specific eligibility criteria. Thus, it is best to consult with professionals to know exactly what your dream college is expecting of you.

The duration of the study programs again depends on the course you are pursuing. In general, an undergraduate course takes about three-four years to complete. Masters courses, however, take around two years. There are shorter courses available as well. Our team can guide you through the length of each study program.

Studying abroad gives you a lifetime opportunity to explore diverse cultures and locations. It not only prepares you for college but also for life. You make friends from all over the world. It is an excellent way to study and work abroad and gain a global perspective.

Listen to your guts when it comes to choosing a study destination. Do your research carefully so you can make a decision without regrets. You can attend webinars to get personal advice concerning this matter. And the easiest way is to connect with our experts and opt for a thorough consultation.

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