About The Tests
Table of Contents
The SAT is a standardized test that evaluates what students learned in high school and the skills needed to succeed in college. Specifically, the test is designed to measure a student’s reading, writing, and math skill level, both with and without a calculator. It is owned, developed, and published by the College Board and administered by the Educational Testing Service. Colleges and universities use it as one measure to determine admission to their campus, in addition to GPA, personal essays, teacher recommendations, class rank, and extracurricular activities. Scores can also strengthen scholarship applications and help secure merit-based financial aid.
We have spent the last decade helping students master the SAT. Students working with us in customized tutoring programs have an average score increase of 150 points, with our hardest working students gaining over 300 points.
The SAT consists of two components: 1) Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and 2) Math. The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing component is broken into two sections: 1) Reading and 2) Writing & Language. Math is broken up into calculator and no-calculator questions. In total, there are 154 multiple-choice and student-produced response questions.
Currently, the SAT is a paper and pencil test*. A calculator can be used for a portion of the Math section, but not the entire test. Student can register online or by mail for the location of their choosing. To find the location best for you, visit the College Board’s Test Center page here.
Students may also take an “experimental” section of the SAT after the final math section. This section does not count towards a student’s composite score but should still be taken seriously.
*Some states or districts offer a fully online version of the SAT.
The two sections—1) Evidence-based Reading and Writing and 2) Math—are each graded on a scale from 200–800, making a perfect score 1600. Because there is no penalty for incorrect answers, students should guess even if it means filling in random answer choices.
The SAT offers score choice, which means that a student can choose the score from their best administration and have only that score sent to colleges.
The SAT allows superscoring. If a student takes the test or specific sections multiple times, the best score from each section will be reported and compiled into the final composite score sent to schools that accept superscores. It is worth noting that some colleges will ask students to submit all their scores when applying and some may not accept superscores. The score reporting policy of each college is different, so we encourage you to learn about the policies at your schools of interest.
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The cost of the SAT is $55. If a student registers late, there is an additional $30 fee to register. Students may apply for a fee waiver if they meet certain household income criteria. The waiver covers up to two SAT registrations as well as any late fees.
The SAT provides a variety of accommodations: extended time and multiple-day testing, large print test booklets and large block answer sheets, computer-based testing, and accommodations for additional physical disabilities. You can find the full list of possible accommodations here.
It can take up to seven weeks for the College Board to approve accommodations requests, so start working with your school counselor early to submit your request. You can find more information about requesting accommodations on the College Board’s Accommodations page here.
Extended time is one of the most commonly requested accommodations. Qualified students may be approved to test with 50%, 100%, or 150% additional time to complete the exam either on the full test or on specific sections, including extra breaks. Students who test with extended time must sit for the entire allotted time and must finish one test section before moving on to the next.