By Students, For Students: an Introduction to the SAT



SAT is an important test high school students normally take during their junior year for college applications.

Edward Wang, Staff Writer

The SAT, along with SAT Subject Tests, is one of the most popular and important examinations that students take as they apply to college.

Format of the SAT

The SAT examination has four (five if the essay is counted) sections with two breaks:

  • Reading Section (52 questions, 65 minutes).
  • Break (10 minutes).
  • Writing and Language Section (44 questions, 35 minutes).
  • Math No Calculator (20 questions, 25 minutes).
  • Break (5 minutes).
  • Math Calculator (38 questions, 55 minutes).
  • There is also an optional section:
    • Break (2 minutes).
    • Essay (50 minutes).

About the SAT

Both the SAT and the Subject Tests are administered by the College Board, a non-profit organization that connects students to colleges. This three hour (and fifty minutes for the optional essay) test evaluates students on critical reading, writing and grammar, and mathematics.

Most students take this test during their junior year at high school. The SAT is administered both domestically and internationally, so you will be competing against millions of students. While different countries have different academic curriculum, they will all be taking either the SAT or ACT. Your SAT score is an indicator of how you compare to other students taking the same test.

Furthermore, according to a blog post written by PrepScholar, “Your SAT score reveals whether your Grade Point Average and transcript are accurate representations of your academic ability. Admissions officers use your SAT/ACT score to figure out if your grades were inflated or not.”

Practice Exams

While you may not have taken the SAT before, you may have taken a similar test. Many students (especially those attending Cam High) have taken the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) during their freshman and sophomore year and the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) their junior year. The PSAT is a good representation of what to expect on the SAT.

Also, there are many practice tests online. Khan Academy offers eight practice SAT tests, which can be found here. The College Board offers eight practice SAT tests as well, which can be printed out here. You can also find official SAT QAS (Question-and-Answer Service) tests here, which at the time of writing, contains eight real SAT tests that were previously administered.

Colleges & The SAT

There are some colleges that do not require the SAT during the application process. However, most colleges require the SAT or the ACT, and (for the SAT) most colleges will have a cutoff for SAT scores. In other words, they may have a minimum required SAT score. The best place to find this information is through the official college or university website, specifically their enrollment requirements.

Pricing of the SAT

The College Board explains the pricing here. If you have a fee waiver, you can take the SAT (with or without the Essay) for free. Otherwise, to register for the SAT online, you need to pay $47.50, while the SAT with Essay is $64.50. Registering by phone will cost an additional $15.00.

Along with the registration, you will get four score reports, which can be sent to colleges of your choice, for free. Additional score report requests costs $12.00.

The SAT Question-and-Answer Service costs $18.00, and gives you the test questions, the correct answers, and more, but this service is not available for every SAT administration.

The SAT Student Answer Service costs $13.50, and provides a list of question types from the test you took, along with the correct answer and your response.

Over the next few weeks, The Stinger will be publishing articles providing a more detailed description of each section as well as testing and studying tips.