Girl giving the SAT exam

What is the SAT exam? | Exam pattern, fees, & more!

Last Updated on March 17, 2021 by iSchoolConnect

Dream of going abroad for your bachelor’s degree? If yes, then preparing for the all-important SAT exam is an absolute must! Wondering what is the SAT exam? Read on to get all the important details you need in order to ace your SATs.

The SATs are an important metric used by institutions to measure a high school student’s readiness for college. If you have just started researching and know nothing about the SAT prep or other details, then read on because we are going to give you an easy-to-understand rundown of what is the SAT exam all about!

What is the SAT Exam?

Students who plan to take admission for undergraduate studies and study abroad are required to successfully qualify for the SAT exams

SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is a standardized assessment test created by the College Board (a non-profit US entity) for students applying in colleges and universities. Higher education institutes all around the world now use it along with high-school grades, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities to assess the aptitude of applicants.

SAT exam details

SAT exams are conducted 7 times a year in different regions at different intervals. Particular centers in nearly every country get to conduct at least 5 tests in a year. As per the revised SAT exam pattern, it is a three-hour-long test that comprises of two sections (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing [EBRW] and Mathematics).

Along with the basic subjects, you can also opt for the essay evaluation that spans 50 minutes. Some universities have made passing the SAT with Essay mandatory in their eligibility criteria.

SAT Exam Pattern and SAT scores

Student filling an answer sheet with a pencil
Not all colleges need you to give your SAT Essay. The SAT Essay scores are reported separately from your overall test scores.

The SAT exam is scored between the range of 400-1600. The SAT reasoning exam has 3 main sections and 1 optional essay section. We are going to break down the existing SAT exam pattern into parts.

Section 1 & 2: EBRW (Total Question: 96, Time Limit: 100 minutes, Score Range: 200-800)

EBRW is further divided into a Reading Test and a Writing and Language Test.

  • Reading Test: 52 questions to be attempted in 65 minutes
  • Writing and Language Test: 44 questions to be attempted in 35 minutes

Section 3: The mathematics portion also has a score range of 200-800:

  • Math with a calculator: 20 questions in 25 minutes
  • Math without a calculator: 38 questions in 55 minutes

If your SAT syllabus also includes essays, then you will get 50 minutes more, and it will be evaluated with the score range of 2-8.

New Changes in the SAT Exam Pattern

The changes in the SAT exam pattern are actually not that new. They were implemented from March 2016 onwards. In the current SAT exam syllabus, the reading and writing sections have been merged into one more comprehensive EBRW.  Moreover, the max score range in the new pattern drops to 1600 (previously, it was 2400).

The most noteworthy change in the new pattern, however, is the annulment of the guessing penalty. Now, 0.25 marks are not deducted on every incorrect answer. This change has slightly increased the composite score ranges for given percentiles.

SAT Exam Syllabus

Are there any particular course books you need to cram? One single SAT study guide to follow? The answer is no. The idea of the SAT exam is to test the intelligence and understanding of students in a broader, universal manner that can’t be realized by confining it to some particular books.

Nonetheless, these are some elements and themes that are part of the SAT exam syllabus.

  1. The reading section has five passages: one from fiction, one from philosophy and general themes of daily life, one from economy/sociology/psychology, and two from everyday science. Aspirants are required to read the passages and answer the set of questions in the given context with reasoning and arguments.
  2. Writing and Language Test comprises of 44 MCQs from 4 passages (science, careers, history, humanities, and social sciences) where students need to articulate and express their ideas by taking care of the language conventions. Some questions also ask aspirants to fix grammatical and syntax errors in the given passages.
  3. The SAT syllabus for mathematics includes questions from Algebra, Problem Solving, and Data Analytics and Advanced Math in both sub-sections.
  4. Lastly, the optional part of the essay is used for a more in-depth examination of a candidate’s thought process, their understanding of the world, and their set of beliefs. On the other hand, it is also a combined test of a student’s reading, writing, and analytical skills.

SAT Exam eligibility

The word “eligible” written with wooden tiles
Across the globe, students from the age groups of 17-19 years have recorded the highest turnout for the SAT exams

There is no standard eligibility set by the College Board. Any student 12 years or older is eligible to sit in the exam. However, as per the norm, students who completed their high school take the exam to get admission in colleges and universities of their choices.

Understanding SAT Percentile

While the score range of 400-1600 is for absolute marking, SAT percentiles tell how you have excelled in comparison to other aspirants. The figure of 70 percentile indicates that you have done better than 70% of the candidates. Colleges and universities also evaluate a student from their SAT percentiles instead of composite scores.

Percentiles are determined by the cumulative score of students in each test. Therefore, SAT scores for colleges can change every year. For instance, a university with a 75 percentile requirement can have a closing composite score of 1340 in 2018 and 1450 in 2019, depending on how candidates, in general, have performed in that particular year.

Any seasoned consultant can update you regarding the current percentile and composite score requirements of the universities and colleges you want to apply in.

Sat Subject Test

Students giving the SAT exam
SAT Subject Test is for a total of 60 mins where students are graded on a scale of 800 points.

Before we wind up, let’s talk about SAT subject tests that are required to enroll in particular disciplines. Some universities need you to pass the SAT Subject test to show your eligibility for certain of their programs. There are 20 SAT Subjects available in five broader areas. These include History (US History, World History), Languages (Latin, German, Hebrew, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, French, and Chinese), Mathematics (Level 1, Level 2), English, and Science (Biology E/M, Chemistry, Physics).

SAT Fees and Registration

As of now, the cost of the SAT exam is $96.50 without the essay and $113.50 with an essay. You can register online at the College Board’s website.

Acing your SAT exam and choosing the right university can be a scary experience unless you take the right approach and consult the right people.

We hope that this blog post has provided you with all the basic yet necessary information about SAT exams. For further information about overseas education, take a look at these blogs that tell you all about choosing the right universitymanaging your finances, your tests and their preparations and more! For any other higher-ed related queries, you can always visit our website. Good Luck!

Akanksha Vora

Bright, bold, and bubbly, Akanksha Vora is a writer at iSchoolConnect. She writes creative and curious blogs that help students with their life and studies abroad.

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