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 overseas.

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.

The Critical Reading Section
Time :
70 min. (two 25-min. sections and one 20-min. section)
Content :
Critical reading and sentence-level reading
Item Types :
Reading comprehension, sentence completions, and paragraph-length critical reading
Score :

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 Completions

Sentence Completion questions measure your :
-Knowledge of the meanings of words
-Ability to understand how the different parts of a sentence fit logically together

Passage-based Reading
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.

The Mathematics Section
Time :
70 min. (two 25-min. sections and one 20-min. section)
Content :
Number and operations; algebra and functions; geometry; statistics, probability, and data analysis
Item Types :
Five-choice multiple-choice questions and student-produced responses
Score :

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

Multiple Choice
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.

Student-Produced Responses
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.

It 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 on forms.
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.

Approaches 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. For example, 15/25 will not fit. You can grid 3/5, 6/10, or 9/15. The decimal form, .6, can also be gridded.

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 intended answers.

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. On student-produced 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 errors.

The Writing Section

Time :
60 min.
Content :
Grammar, usage, and word choice
Item Types :
Multiple choice questions (35 min.) and student-written essay (25 min.)
Score :
The writing section includes both multiple-choice questions and a direct writing measure in the form of an essay.

Short Essay
The short essay measures your ability to:
Organize and express ideas clearly
Develop and support the main idea
Use appropriate word choice and sentence structure
You'll 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 your ideas.
The essay 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.
Get more information about the essay:
Sample Essay Question
Essay Scoring Guide

The multiple-choice writing questions measure your ability to:
Improve sentences and paragraphs
Identify errors (such as diction, grammar, sentence construction, subject-verb agreement, proper word usage, and   wordiness)
Try multiple-choice questions:
Identifying Sentence Errors
Improving Sentences
Improving Paragraphs

About 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 areas.

The SAT Subject Tests offer you an additional opportunity to show colleges what you know and what you know you can do.

SAT Subject Tests fall into five general subject areas :

1. Literature

1. US History      
2. World History

1. Mathematics Level 1      
2. Mathematics Level 2

1. Bilology E/M      
2. Chemistry      
3. Physics

All SAT Subject Tests are one-hour, multiple-choice tests. However, some of these tests have unique formats:

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 take?
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 background.

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.

When 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.

The Unscored Section
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.

Test Order
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, and writing).

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