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SAT Overview

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What Is the SAT?:

The SAT, or Scholastic Aptitude Test, is a college admission test that is recognized by universities both inside the United States and around the world. It is seen by these institutions as a relatively fair way to compare students. Students submit their test score to the colleges of their choice who use this along with their grades and other attributes to determine who will be admitted to their school.

Who Creates the SAT?:

The College Board began creating the SAT in 1926 as a way to try and make entry into colleges fairer across the board. Test development committees write and review questions. It is then part of a pretesting process. Further, the College Board completes statistical analysis of all the questions after test administration.

When is the Test Given?:

The SAT is given seven times a year. The deadline for registration is typically one month before the test date. Students typically take the test during the Spring of their Junior year and possibly a second time during the fall of the Senior year. Find out more information about SAT test dates.

What Does the Test Consist of?:

The SAT consists of three sections: mathematics, critical reading, and writing. The mathematics portion of the test is divided into three subsections. Two of the three sections are 25 minutes while the remaining one takes 20 minutes. There are 44 multiple choice questions along with writing their own answers in the 10 grid-in questions. Critical reading questions includes three subsections. Two of these are 25 minutes while the remaining one takes 20 minutes. The section many reading sections with 48 questions on the information found there. There are also 19 sentence completion questions. The writing section also consists of three subsections. In the essay portion, students are given a topic and have 25 minutes to come up with the essay. The other two writing sections are both multiple choice lasting 25 minutes and 10 minutes each.

How is the Test Scored?:

Each of the three sections of the SAT are worth 800 points. In order to determine the score for the non-essay portions, the College Board first determines the raw score by giving each correct answer one point and deducting 1/4 point for each incorrect multiple choice answer. No points are deducted for incorrect student-written answers.

Once the raw scores are determined, students scores are then equated so that the scores from different editions of the test are equivalent across the board. It is interesting to note that a 25 minutes section of the test is not included at all in the final score. This is instead used to assess questions for future tests.

The final step is to convert the score into a number between 200 and 800 through equating.

Essay Section

The essay is scored independently by two readers using a rubric that ranges from 1 to 6. The two scores are combined to get a score between 2 and 12. If the two scores are more than one point apart, a third reader comes in to score the exam.

How Are the Scores Reported?:

The College Board sends you a score report approximately two weeks after the first Thursday after the test. The main SAT scores are between 200 and 800. Additional subscores are also reported for the essay (ranging from 2-12) and for multiple-choice writing questions (ranging from 20-80). Learn if your scores are good enough from About's College Admissions guide.

Where Can I Learn More?:

The information found here was based on information from the College Board website. You can learn more about the SAT, testing dates, scoring, and more at their website: College Board: SAT

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