The SAT Reasoning Test is a college entrance exam administered by The College Board. In U.S.A, it is the exam that most college-bound students take. Almost every year, the SAT is taken by students over 1.5 million times. The test is developed and stored by the Educational Testing Services (ETS). It is accepted almost universally at every college across the nation, despite some controversies over the validity of its assessments of students’ learning aptitude.


Format and Structure


The SAT is made up of three sections: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. There are three sections on each of these topics and every section is between 15-25 minutes long. In addition, every test has an experimental section that is not used for scoring, but for research purposes, and thus every test has a total of ten sections for a testing time of nearly four hours. Each of the sections is given a score between 200 and 800. Composite scores are calculated by finding the sum of the scores of the three sections, so SAT scores are out of possible 2400. Less than 1% of students do score above are out of possible 2400. Less than 1% of students do some above 2200. Most of the test is multiple-choice with the exception of the 3ssay and a portion of the Math.


The Critical Reading section of the exam consists of both sentence completion problems and reading comprehension problems. Students are tested on both their vocabulary and sentence-level comprehension with the sentence completion questions. Their interpretation and analytical skills are tested with several passages of varying lengths. The Writing section mostly tests the student’s knowledge and grasp of the mechanics of the English language with questions that ask the student to identify the incorrect portions of sentences or improve sentences and paragraphs. The essay is also a part of the Writing section. The essay is scored by two graders, each giving it a score between 1 and 6 combined together for a possible score of 12. The Math section tests students on basic and intermediate algebra, geometry, and some trigonometry. The ten grid-in questions in one of the Math sections are the only set of questions that are not multiple choices. Students have to grid in their answers, and therefore there is no penalty for guessing unlike the other portions of the test in which 1/4 of a point is deducted for every incorrect answer.



Registering for the Test


The SAT is administered a total of seven times each year; October, November, December, Jnauary, March, Mary, and June. The administrations are always on Saturday mornings, but exceptions can be made for religious observance. Students must register online about a month before the exam. Testing locations include local schools and universities and students who wish to sign up for a desirable spot should register early. The registration fee is $43 and increase year by year. There are extra fees for extra services like changing registration and registering late. Fee waivers are available for low income students.


Preparing for the Exam


Preparing for the SAT has become a more and more involved process as time goes on. Most students begin preparing for the exam during the sophomore and junior years so that they are ready to take the exam in their junior year or the fall of their senior year. Some students simply buy a rest preparation book and do the practice problems and tests from it. It has also become increasingly popular to take SAT preparation courses. These involve instructors who teach students test taking strategies and SAT tricks and proctored practice test administrations. SAT courses are good for students who need the extra push to motivate them to study and take practice exams. Students should begin preparing about six months before they plan to take the exam. Students should begin preparing about six months before they plan to take the exam. Most students choose to take it more than once, but more than three times is not recommended. For more information, please go to




Most of the students and parents living in United States are familiar with the SAT. The SAT was first administered in 1926 and since has become the main examination for applying for college. Furthermore, there are more than 160 countries other than U.S. and 500 testing centers that offer the SAT. The main difference between the SAT and “the life determining test” exam in Asia is that students can choose to take the exam many times, and most students choose to take the exam 2 to 3 times. Students then fill in the scores on the application depending on what different college requests. For example, the UC system requires students to enter the highest combined SAT score while some other colleges may require the highest Verbal or math or Writing score (The scores can come from SATs taken at different times).

The name and the content of the test have changed over time to meet the current academic curriculum. From Scholastic Achievement Test -> Scholastic Aptitude Test -> Scholastic Assessment Test to when College Board announced that SAT is no longer an abbreviation in 1994. Between the years 2006-2007, there were 1.5 million who took the SAT exam and 269 of them got perfect scores. In the state of Kentucky, student Liu got a perfect score on SAT in the first semester of 11th grade and a perfect score on ACT in the 2nd semester.


Most parents and students realize that they should start preparing for the exam early because the SAT score is one of the main factors that will affect the admission decision. However, if they do not know how to prepare for it effectively, students will fell unnecessary pressure. This will affect students’ performance if they focus on the wrong topics. Some parents send their children to SAT classes in 9th grade, and most of the time, the students are given practice SAT tests to familiarize them. At first it’s challenging for the students, but eventually the students will get tired of the practice tests. There are even students who join the SAT prep course, but haven’t taken Algebra II at school. This may result in failure on the SAT Math section, and students will probably get tired of it by the time of the real exam. On the other hand, students who use the entire summer studying SAT at the end of the 10th grade have the potential to do much better on the PSAT and SAT.


The verbal part for SAT is completely different than the Language Arts class in high school. Just because a student may be getting good grades in school does not mean that they will do well on the SAT, because the verbal portion of the test contains vocabulary from various areas. In addition, the written part of the test is different from the book reports done in high school. Furthermore, teachers emphasize different agenda and different study habits, so it’s up to the students to read various novels and practice their analytical ability in order to do well on the test. I totally agree with parents who want their children to have a solid reading and writing foundation in middle school. My suggestion is that students reinforce their reading comprehension and writing ability and also strengthen their weaknesses by taking the practice tests. Then during the summer between 10th and 11th grade, students should undergo intensive SAT training. By doing many practice problems, students familiarize themselves with the test format and questions. In addition, students will learn how to answer problems effectively, especially for the written part. Then the students will be ready to take the PSAT and the SAT reasoning test during the beginning of third year of high school. If necessary, student can take the exam again the following semester and finish SAT II subject tests in May or June.

 Choosing the testing center is also important. Some students can finish the SAT is one go and others might take a couple of attempts to perform well. Therefore, it’s important to choose a testing center that is close to house, especially the high school that students are currently attending because taking the test in a familiar environment can help the students to do better on the exam. In the past, this has helped a couple of students who got perfect scores on their exams.