What is the SAT?

What is the SAT? It is considered to be one of the important part of college admission process, these SAT scores determines which colleges one can get in. Learn more about this exam, How is it scored, colleges which accept SAT score and their acceptance rate and more.

Updated by Selva Kumar on 13th February 2020

SAT Test

The SAT stands for Scholastic Assessment Test which was also known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test earlier in 1926. It is a standardized entrance test which is widely accepted by many colleges across the United States, this test is considered as part of the college admission process.


The College Board which is a private, non-profit organization in the United States that owns, develops and publishes the SAT. The Educational Testing Service administers the test on behalf of the College Board.

This SAT Test is conducted to measure the student’s readiness for the college. The SAT test score is said to be an indicator of how well the student can perform in college.

The SAT test duration is 3 hours and 50 minutes including the essay section. And the total score is 1600, which is combined form the two-section scores. There is no negative marking for the wrong answers so you need not worry about making wrong choices.

  • The four sections of the SAT include Reading, Writing, Language, and Math (with and without the use of calculators).

  • An additional essay section is available at the end of the four basic sections. Students may or may not take this section.

  • The normal duration of the exam is 3 hours. If the essay section is attempted an additional half-hour is allotted to students.

  • The total score of the exam is the combined result of two section scores.

  • SAT score is entirely based on the number of correct answers and hence students needn't worry about negative marking.

  • Low scores can be covered up with a remarkable college application. Moreover, most colleges ask students to take up an extra-course, to balance the low scores that they have secured.


SAT Format

The range of sat score is between 400-1600 for the total score, however, the scores are divided into two sub-scores which comprise of ‘Math’ and another sub-score which combines your reading and writing skills to form the “Evidence-based reading and writing”, the subscores range is between 200-800.

To determine a good sat score depends on the colleges and universities you are interested to be a part of, you must be aware of the highest sat score that is 1600, consisting of 2 sections having 800 marks each.

The SAT test has three main sections which are Math, Evidence-Based and Writing, and an optional essay section, the below table shows the breakdown of each section.

Section

Sub- Section

Number of Questions

Total time

EBRW (Evidence-Based Reading & Writing)

Reading


Writing

52 questions


44 questions

65 Minutes


35 minutes

Math

With calculator


Without calculator



58 questions

55 minute


25 minute

The SAT test format might look so simple, but remember pacing foe the SAT test is one of the difficult and yet important parts of the test preparation.

The following table shows you the contents covered in each section along with the breakdown of time per question for each section.

Section

Time per question

Content Covered

Reading

1 minute 15 seconds per questions

Reading and vocabulary in context

Writing

45 seconds per questions

Grammar and usage

Math (with Calculator)

Math (without Calculator)

1 minute 30 seconds per question

1 minute 15 seconds per question

Heart of algebra, problem-solving & data analysis, the passport to advanced math, geometry, trigonometry, and precalculus.


How is the SAT Scored?

Source: Pexels.com

The SAT is scored from starting with the evaluation of raw score - it is the number of questions answered correctly in each section, there is no negative marking, which means no points will be deducted for wrong answers.

The raw scores are then converted into a scaled score of 800 in each main section (Math, EBRW). For example, a raw score of 57 in the math section may range up to780 or 790 down the line.

And a raw score of 80 in the EBRW would be converted into a scaled score of 800.

And finally, the scaled scores of math and EBRW are added together to arrive at the composite score out of 1600. This composite score is the final score which is considered by the colleges during the admission process.

Your essay score is not added to the total composite score, but essays can help you get a scholarship, which is worth the time you spent on it.

Knowing how the essay is scored can help you in your preparation if you’re about to choose the optional essay section.

The SAT essay is evaluated based on three classifications. The primary classification measures the briefness of the prose passage in your comprehension. The secondary classification evaluates the rhetorical analysis in your essay. And the last classification considers the clarity of your composition style.


How is the Essay Scored in SAT?

Two graders read your SAT essay, and every one of them doles out you a score (going from 1-4) in three classes: Reading, Analysis, and Writing.

The primary classification evaluates your comprehension of the prose passage in the brief. The subsequent class assesses the adequacy of the rhetorical analysis in your essay. The last classification considers the lucidity and assorted variety of your composition style.

After every grader counts up, they include their scores together, and give you three article scores, each going from 2 to 8.


SAT Percentiles

The SAT percentile is the ranking used to see the average position when compared to the other test-takers.  In case if the student scored above the 50th percentile, let’s say you have scored 62nd percentile, which means you have scored higher than the 62% of other test-takers.

Remember. The more the SAT score, the higher the chance of getting into a popular college or university.

Some students may be describing their scores as good SAT scores, Average or bad SAT scores. It all depends on the college they are aiming for and also is generally decided by the SAT percentiles.

The following table shows you the scores and the SAT percentile they come under.

SAT Percentile

EBRW (Evidence-Base Reading and Writing)

Math

Total

90th Percentile

670

680

1340

75th Percentile

600

590

1180

50th Percentile

530

520

1050

25th Percentile

460

450

910

10th Percentile

400

390

810

The highest SAT score possible is 1600 points. And the national average SAT score is considered as 1060. As aforementioned good or bad SAT score depends on the college your aiming for. For example, let’s say if you want to get into Yale University then SAT score of above 1430 is considered as a good score, but whereas when you’re aiming for the University of Florida, then SAT  score of 1170 is considered to be a good score.

You can also determine your SAT as whether good or average by comparing it with other test taker percentiles. The following table consists of SAT score data and their Percentile rankings.

SAT Marks

Percentiles

1330-1600

90-99+

1230-1330

80-89

1170-1230

71-79

1110-1170

61-79

1060-1110

51-60

1000-1060

40-50

950-1000

31-39

890-950

21-30

810-950

11-20

750-810

5-10

680-750

1-4

400-680

1-3


 

Number of trials allowed for the SAT

The students can take the SAT test any number of times. But only the latest 6 test scores will be taken into consideration. Though you can take the test many times, it is recommended that the student take the test for a maximum of 4 times in total. 

Some colleges permit the score choice option. This allows the student to submit the best scores for the college admission process. But before you do that, be aware of whether or not your college allows the score choice policy and act accordingly.


How to Prepare for the SAT?

Proper preparation is an important key for getting good scores in the SAT, below we have shared our best tips to help you in preparing for the SAT

Start by External Reading

There is a general misconception that students lose marks in the math section regardless of whether it is with a calculator or without a calculator section, no. actually students lose marks mostly in the EBRW  section. So start practice reading some non-fiction books outside the class also.

And you will be having five big compact passages in a row all in an hour so you might feel frustrated and may make a lot of careless mistakes So start practicing ng.

Learn Math Tricks and Hacks

As you might be aware that there are two math sections, one with the calculator and the other without the calculator. Sometimes you may get stuck with simple math problems. So learning a few math tricks like mental math calculation can help you solve the problem with ease and efficiently by saving time.

Don’t Underestimate Grammar

As aforementioned, the EBRW section might look so simple, but don’t underestimate the grammar. In that section, students most of the marks because of grammar. Because nearly half of the verbal section is made up of grammar questions. So it is advised to brush up on grammar a bit

Take Full-length Practice Tests

Taking full-length tests helps you analyze where your weaknesses among the three main sections of the SAT, how long do it takes for you to complete the test, is that efficient enough and more.

And also one full-length practice test is an effective way to prepare for the SAT test day, it also builds up confidence after two or three practice tests.

Avoid Cramming

It is suggested that you avoid cramming for the SAT, basically cramming is stuffing information into the brain, irrespective of their importance.

So instead of stuffing 1000 things in your mind, just stuff 100 things and be clear with them.

Beat Your Weaknesses

Once you have taken a full-length practice test, you may be aware of your weakness. So start working on your weak spot, keep practicing until there is no weakness.

Fix a Goal

Before you start preparing, try to have a goal. Let’s say a goal to attain 1500 scores in the SAT. by having a goal, you will know where to start, how to end it, and most importantly it acts as a motivator and helps you focus in your preparation.

Create a Study Schedule

Planning a study schedule is as important as fixing a goal. A goal just helps you focus, whereas planning helps you attain to achieve them by making calculated moves at the right time.

Practice

Practicing for the SAT makes you better in each practice test you take. It is suggested that the student take at least 3-4 full-length practice test.  The practice test also boosts up the student’s confidence level toward the SAT.


SAT scores for the Colleges and Universities

Below is a list of few popular colleges with their SAT score requirements and their acceptance rates.

Universities that accept SAT scores between above 1340

Rank

University Name

SAT 25th Percentile

SAT 75th Percentile 

Acceptance Rate

1

Stanford University

1390

1580

5.0%

2

Harward University

1400

1600

5.6%

3

University of Pennsylvania

1380

1550

10.2%

4

Washington University in St. Louis

1400

1550

16.7%

5

Yale University

1430

1600

6.7%

6

Bowdoin College 

1360

1510

14.9%

Columbia University

1380

1570

6.6%


Universities for SAT scores between 1200-1340

Rank

University Name

SAT 25th Percentile

SAT 75th Percentile

Acceptance Rate

1

University of Southern California

1270

1500

16.6%

2

New York University

1250

1470

32.1%

3

The University of Michigan- Ann Harbor

1290

1500

26.3%

4

Northern University

1340

1510

28.5%

5

Boston University

1200

1410

32.6%

6

Cornell University

1330

1530

15.1%

7

UC Berkeley 

1250

1510

16.9%


Universities accepting SAT scores between 1030-1200

Rank

College Name

SAT 25th Percentile

SAT 75 Percentile

Acceptance Rate

1

UCLA

1180

1470

17.30%

2

Penn State

1090

1300

51.30%

3

UT Austin

1170

1410

39.20%

4

University of Florida

1170

1350

47.50%

5

Syracuse University

1090

1290

48.30%

6

UC Santa Barbara

1090

1360

32.60%

7

University of Washington

1120

1370

53.30%


Universities accepting SAT scores between 830-1030

Rank

College Name

SAT 25th Percentile

SAT 75th Percentile

Acceptance Rate

1

San Diego State University

1010

1230

34.4%

2

Temple University

1010

1230

55.7%

3

The University of Alabama

980

1210

53.6%

4

Michigan State University 

980

1260

66.3%

5

Liberty University 

930

1190

21.6%

6

University of Arizona

980

1230

76.4%

7

Howard University

990

1220

49.0%


Universities accepting SAT scores below 830

Rank

College Name

SAT 25th Percentile

SAT 75 Percentile

Acceptance Rate

1

California State University 

790

1010

45.6%

2

CSU Los Angeles

780

990

68.1%

3

Clark Atlanta University 

740

920

51.2%

4

SUNY Buffalo State College

800

1000

62.3%

5

CSU East Bay

800

1020

74.0%

6

Morgan State University

800

970

66.7%

7

CSU Fresno

790

1010

52.2%


Low SAT scores? Don’t worry

  • There are several colleges that accept students with low SAT scores.

  • The reason why they do it is that most of these colleges are specialization institutions for religion and arts.

  • Hence, the college authorities would want students who are really passionate about these courses and believe that the SAT scores shouldn’t prevent them from applying to these colleges.

One thing to always remember is that a sat score whether it’s good or bad is specific to you, the score that is good for you may or may not be good for others. The sat score is good only when it is able to accomplish its job of getting you admitted to your dream school, college or university of your choice.

Altogether, you ought to decide the best course of study for you, catering to your strengths and weaknesses. Be prepared to take a seat for the SAT more than once, in particular in case you're aiming for a 90th percentile rating.

Elite scores pave way for admission to elite establishments, however, the manner itself takes time. Be patient as you strive to better understand your performance at the SAT and the function it performs in the lives of prospective undergraduates.