What You Need to Know About the SAT

What is the SAT?

The SAT is a multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper assessment administered by the College Board that is used by many colleges/universities to make admission decisions. The purpose of the entrance exam is to measure a student’s readiness for college and to provide colleges with a common data point for comparing applicants.

When do students usually take the SAT?

The SAT is given seven times throughout the year: March, May, June, August, October, November, and December. Most students take the SAT during the spring of their Junior year or the fall of their Senior year. It is quite common for students to take the SAT up to three times in order to achieve their best final score.

How long is the SAT?

The SAT exam is 3 hours without the essay component and 3 hours and 50 minutes with the essay.

How much does the SAT cost?

SAT admission fees for the 2018-2019 school year are as follows:
$47.50 (without essay)
$64.50 (with essay)

Students who cannot afford the admission fees are able to apply for an SAT Fee Waiver here: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/fees/fee-waivers

What is the format of the SAT?

The SAT has four major components with an optional essay section. The four sections are as follows:

  • Evidence-Based Reading
  • Writing and Language Arts
  • Math with no calculator
  • Math with calculator
  • Optional essay

Evidence-Based Reading

52 multiple-choice questions
65 minutes
Passages are based on literature, historical documents, social sciences, and natural sciences
Question topics include vocabulary in context, understanding charts/graphs, making inferences and identifying evidence, and literal comprehension

Writing and Language Arts

44 multiple-choice questions
35 minutes
Question topics include grammar, vocabulary in context, and editing/rhetorical skills
4 passages total with at least 1 containing a graphic, such as a chart

Math with no calculator

15 multiple-choice questions and 5 grid-in questions
25 minutes
Algebra I and II, geometry, and some trigonometry
Linear equations, system, graphs, problem-solving and data analysis, manipulation of equations

Math with calculator

30 multiple-choice questions and 8 grid-in questions
55 minutes
Algebra I and II, geometry, and some trigonometry
Linear equations, system, graphs, problem-solving and data analysis, manipulation of equations

Essay (optional)

1 essay
50 minutes
Read a passage and analyze how the author builds a persuasive argument.

How is the SAT scored?

The SAT has two section scores: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Math. Each section score ranges from 200 to 800. The composite score is simply the sum of the two section scores, which means the highest possible score is a 1600.

  • 1600 is the top score for the SAT
  • 1070 is the average score

Tips and strategies for the SAT

Here are a few things you can do at home/school to better prepare for the SAT exam:
1. Take practice tests to help gauge your performance and understanding of the topics
2. Pay attention in class to optimize learning
3. Take the right types of classes to prepare for the exam
4. Use and better understand specific test-taking strategies to make educated guesses

How can MINDSPIRE help with the SAT?

There are numerous tips and strategies available online to better prepare for the SAT. From test prep books to online practice exams, the options are endless; however, these options are sometimes overwhelming!
At MINDSPIRE, we provide a tutoring and test prep program that is tailored to your specific learning style and individual needs. We have tutored thousands of students for the SAT, and we have the best tutors around. In 2018, 97.5% of our Mindspire students reached or exceeded their guaranteed score for the SAT. If you are interested in getting a tutor that is matched with your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your needs, give us a call at 844-537-PREP (7737) or click here to learn more.


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