Complete Guide To The SAT

Everything you need to know about College Board's Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT)

The Scholastic Assessment Test (commonly known as the SAT) is a standardized test used for college admissions in the United States. It assesses students’ skills in Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. The questions are of Multiple Choice format and the total testing time is 3 hours.

The purpose of the SAT, or any other standardized test, is to have a common metric that can be used to compare all applicants, regardless of their high school background. The alternative to the SAT is the ACT, and colleges will accept either test score.

Most students take the SAT in either Grade 11 or early Grade 12, and there is no limit to the number of times you are permitted to take the test. The SAT is usually held multiple times a year, though the test dates are a bit unpredictable in recent years due to COVID-19’s development.

About The Format Of The SAT

This test consists of two main sections: Evidence-based Reading & Writing and Math.

SectionSub-sectionTesting TimeNumber of QuestionsContent/Skills Covered
Evidence-Based Reading & WritingEvidence -Based Reading65 Minutes52Reading Comprehension And Vocabulary
Writing and Language35 Minutes44Grammar And Usage
MathNo-Calculator25 Minutes20Heart Of Algebra, Problem Solving & Data Analysis, Passport To Advanced Math, Additional Topics
Calculator allowed55 Minutes38
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Evidence-based Reading / Writing and Language

This section is split into two subsections:

  • Evidence-based reading
  • Writing and language

Evidence-based Reading section is composed of 52 multiple-choice questions and the time allocated is 65 minutes. You will be required to read five passages, on topics ranging from World Literature to History to Science, and answer questions based on the passages.

Do not be alarmed about the wide genres of passages you will encounter as topic-specific knowledge is never tested. Rather, the purpose of this section is to measure comprehension and reasoning skills.

The Writing and Language section is composed of 44 multiple-choice questions and the time allocated is 35 minutes. Similar to the reading section, this is also passage-based and there are four passages in total. You will be required to identify errors in grammar, punctuation and organization and provide suggestions on how to fix them.

The purpose of this section is to assess expression, grammar, usage and punctuation.

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This section includes multiple-choice and response questions. The questions are based on the Math college-bound students typically learn during their first three years of high school.

This section is further split into two subsections – a no-calculator section that is composed of 20 questions and is 25 minutes long, and a calculator based section that is composed of 38 questions and is 55 minutes long. The majority of questions on both math sections are Multiple Choice, with a few response questions. You will have access to a list of formulas. The content in both math sections are commonly covered in your high school classes. It includes:

  • Heart of Algebra – linear equations, systems of linear equations, and inequalities
  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis – the application of ratios, percentages, interpreting graphs, linear and exponential growth, basic statistics and proportional reasoning.
  • Passport to Advanced Math – adding, subtracting, and multiplying polynomials, dividing a polynomial by a linear expression, or manipulating expressions involving exponentials, integer and rational powers, radicals, or fractions with a variable in the denominator.
  • Additional topics – Volume, area calculations, right triangle geometry, congruence and similarity, angles, arc lengths, and trigonometry functions, circle theorems, and complex numbers

SAT Test Dates (For International Students)

The SAT is typically offered 5 times a year in Singapore – MarchMay, August, October, and December.

These test dates are typically scheduled on the 1st/2nd Saturday of the month. Here are the SAT test dates released for 2022-2023 from College Board, do note that the deadlines expire at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, US.

It’s best to complete registration early once you’ve decided on your test date as seats tend to fill up way before the registration deadline.

SAT Test DatesRegistration DeadlineDeadline for Changes
March 12, 2022February 11, 2022March 1, 2022
May 7, 2022April 8, 2022April 26, 2022
August 27, 2022July 29, 2022July 29, 2022
October 1, 2022September 2, 2022September 2, 2022
December 3, 2022November 3, 2022November 3, 2022
March 11, 2023 (Digital)February 24, 2023February 24, 2023
May 6, 2023 (Digital)April 21, 2023April 21, 2023
June 3, 2023 (Digital)May 19, 2023May 19, 2023

SAT Score Guide

The SAT does not focus on raw scores—i.e. the number of questions each student got correct. Instead, the SAT is scored on a scale of 400-1600. The scaled scores allow for consideration of the difficulty of each test, as some tests might be harder than others. Hence, the raw scores are scaled to fit a normal distribution curve, and the scores of a student thus reflect on how he/she is compared with other students who have appeared for the test.

You’ll have one score for Math, on a 200-800 scale, and one score for Evidence Based Reading and Writing, also on a 200-800 scale.

The essay will not be factored into your overall SAT score, and will be displayed separately on the report. The essay is scored by two readers on three measures: Reading, Analysis and Writing. Each reader gives the essay a score between 1 and 4, for each category and the grades are then summed. Hence, the highest grade you can receive is 8, 8, 8, while the lowest possible score is 2, 2, 2.

What is considered a good SAT score then? The answer lies pretty much on which college you are applying to. Read our SAT score guide for more insights on this topic.

Should You Take The SAT Or The ACT?

Most universities accept both SAT scores and ACT scores — there is absolutely no added advantage in taking one test over the other. The purpose of both tests is similar – to have a standardized score to measure college readiness.

Thus, when deciding which test to take, students often want to know which one is ‘easier’. This is also a trap, as both tests are designed to be tricky in their own way. The bottom line is to take the test that you are more comfortable with, and can score better in. Read our break-down of the SAT and ACT for more information.

At Prep Zone, we recommend all students to take both a full-length diagnostic test for the SAT and ACT. After which, our trainers will review the student’s performance and recommend the appropriate test.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I cancel my SAT scores?

If you feel like you have performed poorly after finishing the test, you can cancel your scores immediately without waiting to get your results. Should you need some time to consider score cancellation after leaving the test centre, you have until the Thursday after your test to submit your request. However, take note that the cancellation form must either be physically mailed or faxed over. Furthermore, once your request to cancel scores has been submitted, your scores cannot be reinstated or reported to you.

2. How early should I register for the SAT?

The registration deadline is typically a month before the test date (e.g. a test on May 8 will have a registration deadline of April 8). However, late registration deadlines are normally 2-3 weeks before the test date; those who file for late registration will be required to pay an additional fee. To avoid disappointment, you are advised to register as early as possible to secure your preferred test date. Should you wish to change your test date later on, change fees are currently waived.

Related Article: SAT Test Dates

3. How early should I start my SAT preparation?

While most students start preparing for the SAT at least 3 months before their test date, you should attempt a diagnostic test as early as possible to get a gauge of your strengths and weaknesses.

If you are looking to do a diagnostic and also get some advice on how to move forward, Prep Zone offers a free diagnostic test. Depending on the discrepancy between your diagnostic score and desired score, a clearer timeline can be set on when to start formally preparing for the SAT. It is important to consider how much time you have per week to dedicate to SAT prep, as this will affect your prep timeline.

4. Must I use a calculator?

The use of a calculator is permitted but not required for some parts of the SAT. A list of approved calculators can be found on the College Board website.

5. What are some good resources to use for prep?

The College Board offers 8 free full-length tests on their website for students to get a feel for what to expect on test day. These can either be downloaded from the College Board website or completed online on Khan Academy. The latter option will allow you to receive personalized practice recommendations to help you focus on weaker topics.

At Prep Zone, you will receive a copy of a Tutorverse book, which contains both topical practices and full-length passages and tests. In addition, our students will have access to comprehensive notes and materials and an additional 20+ practice tests to guide them in their SAT prep.

6. How important are my SAT scores?

While colleges and universities do consider multiple factors when making admissions decisions, your standardized test scores are still a crucial part of your application. These scores serve as a good benchmark for your academic ability, and higher scores mean you have more college options and scholarship opportunities. That being said, your high school transcript, GPA, personal essays, extracurriculars, and interviews are also considered alongside your SAT scores.

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