see more posts
SATs 101 and 6 Best Tips While Preparing
6 min

SATs 101 and 6 Best Tips While Preparing

May 4, 2022
6 min

Two students studying for an exam

SAT, or Scholastic Aptitude Test, is one of the most common tests among high school students worldwide. The test is quite tricky, and the first-timers always have many doubts that confuse them through the process. So we shall discuss everything you need to know about SATs in this blog that leaves you with no doubts. Plus, we will provide you with the best tips to prepare even better for the exam after learning what SAT is.

What is SAT?

SATs are usually taken by high school students willing to pursue undergraduate college courses in renowned universities. As the name says, the Scholastic Aptitude Test helps colleges understand students' abilities who wish to enroll in their courses. SAT taking has become a mandate, especially for the students who dream of becoming professionals in today's world.

SATs were started in the US and managed by the non-profit entity College Board. But eventually, colleges across the globe, prominently in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia, started accepting the scores in student applications.

Also Read: Tips to crack IELTS

Fee for taking the SAT

Following is the fee structure according to the new SAT pattern.

fees for SAT taking

Applying for the test

You'll be glad to know that there is no age bar for SAT sign up, but anyone below 12 years of age must register via email. Email registration is also mandatory if you are not paying online or want to appear for the test near your home. Everyone else can do the registration on the official College Board website.

For online registration, you need to create a student profile on the website, fill in all the details, select the test subjects and centre, and pay the application fees. After receiving your examination ticket, you need to print it to appear for the test.

If you opt for email registration, ask for the SAT registration booklet in the school board or your nearest SAT centre, fill out the form and submit it along with your money order/cheque.

The test takes place seven times a year in the US. If you are an international student, you may search for the test dates according to your country; usually, there are five tests a year in other countries. The website has also mentioned the SAT 2022 dates.

Test structure

The SAT is a paper-and-pen based multiple-choice questionnaire, with the essay section optional. The new format, EBRW (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, contains four sections. The first two test your English language skills: The reading and writing sections. These give you a score anywhere between 200 and 800. The following section is Mathematics which has a maximum score of 800. You will find all the syllabus on the College Board website. As we discussed above, the last section is the optional essay section. You have 3 hours to complete the test on your exam day if you don't opt for the essay. Otherwise, the duration will be 3 hours 50 minutes.

Good Scores in the SAT

SATs are no more marked negatively, i.e. you won't lose any marks if you answer any questions wrong. 

The average SAT score of all the candidates is 1060. However, to get into a good college, you will have to aim for at least 1300. Any score above 1210 is considered a good SAT score, which might secure your percentile score above 80.

You might be familiar with the concept of superscore. It is a relatively new scoring method for students, where the highest score of each section in all of your attempts is considered while taking admission.

For example, let us say that you attempted the SATs twice. You scored 650 and 720 the first time (1370 total), and 710 and 680 the second (1390 total) respectively. So traditionally, your second score would be the better one, where the total is 20 more than the first. But in the superscore method, we will take the 710 from second and 720 from first for each section and take your total to 1430.

Remember that not all colleges accept superscores, so check with the requirements of colleges you wish to apply to and prepare accordingly. You will have to start practicing way ahead of your SAT exam date to ensure good score.

If you have any other doubts, there is a really informative subreddit on SAT that has all kinds of Q&As.

6 Tips to prepare for SATs

1. Read the questions first

In the Reading section, we often start with reading the passage first. Being quite a competitive test, the text is quite challenging at times. We tend to ignore the context and misinterpret words. To avoid this, start practicing reading and understanding the questions first. It does not take much time to glance at the questions, and you would know what exactly to look for in the passage.

2. Learn word morphology instead of a ton of vocabulary

You do not need to know so many words by heart. Apart from learning how to derive word meaning from the context, it is much easier to spend some time learning word morphology. It deals with word formation, prefixes, suffixes, etc. Doing this will get easier to guess the meaning of the word. Learning the basics will take about 3-4 weeks, depending on your time, but it will be completely worth it when you see your linguistic skills developing at a commendable rate. This skill will help be efficient in the reading, writing, and essay sections of the SAT.

3. Answer all the questions even if you are not sure

The new SAT pattern does not have negative markings; we already know that. So there is no harm in attempting all the questions. While you do that, don't randomly mark them. Try the elimination method and narrow the options down; it will increase your chances of scoring more.

4. Know your Maths well

Remember: DO NOT SKIP ANY TOPIC in the maths section. It might be a complex subject for you, just like many other students find it. There will be a no-calculator part in the maths sections, so for that, you will have to do the calculations quickly. Try understanding the topics thoroughly; explore the actual life implementations of topics. Learn tricks for mental arithmetic for fun, and know the formulae and how they are actually derived. And don't see this as torture. You have to master this section, primarily if you aim for technical courses, as basic maths is used almost everywhere in science and finance fields. There are plenty of SAT maths practice tests, both on the official website and on the internet to get you acquainted with it.

5. Set a lesser timer while practicing

When attempting the SAT mock tests, make sure you set the timer less by at least 20 minutes in total. Aim to complete the test in 2 hours and 40 minutes. It will ensure that you do not miss any questions by mistake when taking the test, as you will have some extra minutes on your hand.

6. Develop your comprehension skills to write an essay

The essay section wants you to read and analyze an argument. Before you start writing, see what the passage is talking about. Scrutinize the passage from all aspects possible and then write with a fixed perspective. Again, the passages in the reading and writing sections are tricky, so make sure you understand them thoroughly.

Also Read: TOEFL Resources: Best Study Techniques

With all the information and these essential tips in mind, it will be a good start for your SAT prep. Practice the mock tests and sample questions a lot before day 0. This being said, all the best for your SAT journey!