The SAT is the nation's most widely
used admissions test among colleges and universities.
It tests students' knowledge of subjects that
are necessary for college success: reading,
writing, and mathematics. The SAT assesses the
critical thinking skills students need for academic
success in college—skills that students
learned in high school.
The SAT is typically taken by high school juniors
and seniors. It tells students how well they
use the skills and knowledge they have attained
in and outside of the classroom—including
how they think, solve problems, and communicate.
The SAT is an important resource for colleges.
It's also one of the best predictors of how
well students will do in college.
Each section of the SAT is scored on a scale
of 200-800, with two writing subscores for multiple-choice
questions and the essay. It is administered
seven times a year in the U.S. and U.S. territories,
including Puerto Rico, and six times a year
The SAT includes several different question
types, including: a student-produced essay,
multiple-choice questions, and student-produced
responses (grid-ins). Select any section below
to learn more about specific question types.
Critical Reading Section
70 min. (two 25-min. sections
and one 20-min. section)
Critical reading and sentence-level
Item Types :
sentence completions, and paragraph-length critical
The critical reading section, formerly
known as the verbal section, includes short
as well as long reading passages. Questions
can be based on one, or sometimes two, reading
passages. Some questions are not based on reading
passages, but ask you to complete sentences.
The critical reading section measures:
Sentence Completion questions measure your :
-Knowledge of the meanings of words
-Ability to understand how the different parts
of a sentence fit logically together
The reading questions on the SAT measure a student's
ability to read and think carefully about several
different passages ranging in length from about
100 to about 850 words. Passages are taken from
a variety of fields, including the humanities,
social studies, natural sciences, and literary
fiction. They vary in style and can include
narrative, argumentative, and expository elements.
Some selections consist of a pair of related
passages on a shared issue or theme that you
are asked to compare and contrast.
70 min. (two 25-min. sections
and one 20-min. section)
Number and operations; algebra
and functions; geometry; statistics, probability,
and data analysis
Item Types :
questions and student-produced responses
The SAT includes mathematics topics from up
through a third-year college preparatory course,
such as exponential growth, absolute value,
and functional notation. It also places emphasis
on such topics as linear functions, manipulations
with exponents, and properties of tangent lines.
Important skills such as estimation and number
sense are measured through the multiple-choice
and student response (grid-in) questions.
May I use a calculator?
Yes. Students may use a four-function, scientific,
or graphing calculator. The College Board recommends
that students use a graphing (or at least a
scientific) calculator for the SAT, although
it's still possible to solve every question
without a calculator.
The mathematics section has two types of questions
- Multiple Choice
- Student-Produced Response Questions
The questions that follow will give you an idea
of the type of mathematical thinking required
to solve problems on the SAT. First, try to
answer each question yourself, and then read
the solutions that follow. These solutions may
give you new insights into solving the problems
or point out techniques you'll be able to use
again. Most problems can be solved in a variety
of ways, so don't be concerned if your method
is different from the one given. Note that the
directions indicate that you are to select the
best of the choices given.
Questions of this type have no answer choices
provided. Instead, you must solve the problem
and fill in your answer on a special grid. Ten
questions on the test will be of this type.
is very important for you to understand the
directions for entering answers on the grid!
You will lose valuable testing time if you read
the directions for the first time when you take
the test. The directions are fairly simple,
and the gridding technique is similar to the
way other machine-readable information is entered
A primary advantage of this format is that it
allows you to enter the form of the answer that
you obtain, whether whole number, decimal, or
fraction. For example, if you obtain 2/5, you
can grid 2/5. If you obtain .4, you can grid
.4. Generally, you should grid the form of the
answer that you obtain naturally in solving
the problem. The grid will only hold numbers
that range from 0 to 9999. Decimals and fractions
can also be gridded.
When there is a range of possible correct
answers, your gridded response must lie within
the range. For example, consider a problem for
which all numbers between 4 and 5, exclusive,
are correct answers. For this question, although
4.0002 is within the range (4 < x < 5),
its rounded value 4.00 is not within the range
and therefore would not be considered a correct
answer to the problem.
to Student-Produced Responses
Decide in which column you want to begin
gridding your answers before the test starts.
This strategy saves time. We recommend that
you grid the first (left-hand) column of the
grid or that you right-justify your answers.
If the answer is zero, grid it in column 2,
3, or 4.
Zero has been omitted from
column 1 to encourage you to grid the most accurate
values for rounded answers. For example, an
answer of 1/8 could also be gridded as .125
but not as 0.12, which is less accurate.
A fraction does not have to be reduced
unless it will not fit the grid.
example, 15/25 will not fit. You can grid 3/5,
6/10, or 9/15. The decimal form, .6, can also
Do your best to be certain of your answer
before you grid it.
If you erase your
answer, do so completely. Incomplete erasures
may be picked up by the scoring machines as
Check your work if your answer does
not fit on the grid
. If you obtain
a negative value, a value greater than 9999,
or an irrational number, you have made an error.
Make an educated guess if you don't
know the answer.
response (grid-in) questions you don't lose
points for wrong answers.
Always enter your answer on the grid.
Only answers entered on the grid are scored.
Your handwritten answer at the top of the grid
isn't scored. However, writing your answer at
the top of the grid may help you avoid gridding
The Writing Section
Grammar, usage, and word
Item Types :
Multiple choice questions
(35 min.) and student-written essay (25 min.)
The writing section includes both multiple-choice
questions and a direct writing measure in the
form of an essay.
essay measures your ability to:
and express ideas clearly
and support the main idea
word choice and sentence structure
be asked to develop a point of a view on an
issue, using reasoning and evidence —
based on your own experiences, readings, or
observations — to support
will be scored by trained high school and college
teachers. Each reader will give the essay a
score from 1 to 6 (6 is the highest score)
based on the overall quality of the essay and
your demonstration of writing competence.
Please note that the essay images seen
by readers for scoring purposes are clearer
than the images we can display
for students and institutions on our website.
information about the essay:
writing questions measure your ability to:
sentences and paragraphs
errors (such as diction, grammar, sentence construction,
subject-verb agreement, proper word usage, and
the SAT Subject Tests
The SAT Subject Tests measure your knowledge
and skills in particular subject areas, and
your ability to apply that knowledge.
The SAT Subject Tests are the only national
admissions tests that give you the opportunity
to demonstrate mastery of content in specific
subjects, such as English, history, mathematics,
science, and various foreign languages.
Many colleges use the SAT Subject Tests for
admission, for course placement, and to advise
students about course selection. Some colleges
specify the SAT Subject Tests that they require
for admission or placement; others allow applicants
to choose which tests to take. These tests give
you and colleges a very reliable measure of
how prepared you are for college-level work
in particular subjects. Used in combination
with other background information (your high
school record, SAT scores, teacher recommendations,
etc.), they provide a dependable measure of
your academic achievement and are a good predictor
of future college performance in specific subject
The SAT Subject Tests offer you an additional
opportunity to show colleges what you know and
what you know you can do.
Subject Tests fall into five general subject
1. US History
2. World History
1. Mathematics Level 1
2. Mathematics Level 2
1. Bilology E/M
All SAT Subject Tests are one-hour, multiple-choice
tests. However, some of these tests have unique
• The SAT
Subject Test in Biology E/M contains
a common core of 60 general-knowledge multiple-choice
questions, followed by 20 multiple-choice
questions that emphasize either ecological
(Biology E) or molecular (Biology M) subject
matter. Before testing begins, you must choose
which test you will take, either the ecological
or molecular. Students are not allowed
to take both tests in one sitting. If you
do, your scores may be canceled.
• The SAT
Subject Tests in Mathematics (Level 1 and
Level 2) have some questions that
require the use of at least a scientific or
graphing calculator. Mathematics Subject Tests
are developed with the expectation that most
students will use a graphing calculator.
• The SAT
Subject Tests in Languages with Listening
(Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean,
and Spanish) consist of a listening section
and a reading section. Students taking these
tests are required to bring an acceptable
CD player with earphones to the test center.
For more detailed information, including recommended
preparation, anticipated skills, test format,
sample questions, and more, visit the Subject
Tests Preparation Center.
Which SAT Subject Tests should you
Before deciding which tests to take, make
a list of the colleges you're considering.
Then review school catalogs, College Search
Engines, or College Handbooks to find out
whether the schools require scores for admission
and, if so, how many tests and in which subjects.
Use your list of colleges and their admission
requirements to help plan your high school
course schedule. You may want to adjust your
schedule in light of colleges' requirements.
For example, a college may require a score
from a SAT Subject Test in a language for
admission, or the college might exempt you
from a freshman course requirement if you
do well on a language SAT Subject Test.
Many colleges that don't require SAT Subject
Test scores will still review them since they
can give a fuller picture of your academic
If you're not sure which SAT Subject Test
to take from a subject area, talk to your
teacher or school counselor and visit the
Subject Tests Preparation Center.
should you take SAT Subject Tests?
Most students take SAT Subject Tests toward
the end of their junior year or at the beginning
of their senior year.
Take tests such as World History, Biology
E/M, Chemistry, or Physics as soon as possible
after completing the course in the subject,
while the material is still fresh in your
mind. If you take such courses in your freshman
or sophomore year, and you are eligible for
fee waivers, you can request a fee waiver
to test before your junior year. For foreign
language tests, you'll do better after at
least two years of study.
In addition to the nine scored sections of
the SAT, there is one 25-minute section that
we use to ensure that the SAT continues to
be a fair and valid test. Don't be worried:
the section does not count towards your score.
It may be a critical reading, mathematics,
or writing multiple-choice section.
It is common test development to use an unscored
section to try out new questions for future
editions of the test. It also ensures that
scores on new editions of the SAT are comparable
to scores on earlier editions of the test.
This helps to ensure the fairness of the SAT,
which is one of our primary objectives.
The SAT is comprised of 10 total testing sections.
The first section is always a 25-minute essay,
and the last section is always a 10-minute
multiple-choice writing section. Sections
two through seven are 25-minute sections.
Sections eight and nine are 20-minute sections.
Test-takers sitting next to each other in
the same session may have test books with
entirely different content orders for sections
two through nine (mathematics, critical reading,
For any further information on Know Your Test,
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