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The SAT – What to Expect

The SAT Reasoning Test is a standardized test used for college admissions. It was previously known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test or SAT I. Published by the College Board, a nonprofit organization, the SAT is administered seven times a year. Currently, SAT scores range from 600 to 2400, and the test is divided into three sections of equal weight: critical reading, math, and writing. Understanding the material that will be on the test and how it is presented is critical to your success. You may want to consider taking a practice SAT test or an SAT prep class to make sure you do well.

In the critical reading section, formerly known as the verbal section, you are expected to answer multiple-choice questions designed to test your vocabulary and reading comprehension. There are two types of questions: those that complete sentences and those that are based on the reading of passages. Sentence completion questions ask the examinee to select an appropriate word to complete a sentence. The reading passages are varied in nature; they range from narratives to passages from the social sciences. The passage questions test the student’s ability to identify the important aspects of the passage. There is another form of this type of question in which the student is asked to compare two shorter passages and answer questions about them.

The math section includes multiple choice questions and grid or fill-in-the-blank questions. Calculators are allowed, but not all calculators are allowed. This section tests a variety of topics, including but not limited to basic number theory, geometry, and algebra. There are ten grid questions that require you to write and bubble your answer.

Finally, the writing section is made up of an essay and multiple choice questions. The essay, which accounts for 28% of the writing score, is scored by two raters on a scale of 2 to 12. You are given a guideline, or topic, for writing the essay. Multiple choice questions in the writing section test your ability to identify errors in sentences and edit your writing.

Another important aspect of the SAT is the time limits. In total, you have 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the SAT. The format of the SAT is as follows. There are two 25-minute critical reading sections and one 20-minute critical reading section; all critical reading sections are multiple choice. The writing section consists of a 25-minute essay and two multiple-choice sections, one 25-minute and one 10-minute. The math portion is made up of two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section. There is also a 25-minute “variable section” used to normalize scores. Being aware of time limits is critical to being successful on the SAT.

Taken together, all of these factors make the SAT stressful and intimidating. SAT prep courses are often a good way to help you prepare for the rigors of the test. There are many options available, online and in person. Online SAT prep courses offer flexibility and the ability to retake sections you struggle with. In-person SAT prep classes or tutoring offer a structure and classroom setting that some people prefer. Regardless of what you choose, make sure your course offers a score-boost guarantee and use the official College Board SAT practice tests so you can get the most bang for your buck.

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