What is the SAT?

Changes and Benefits of the SAT

SAT preparation and tutoring

The thought of SAT’s always generates tons of stress and sleepless nights for most students. The SAT started out as a military IQ test and was administered as a college admissions assessment for the first time in 1926. The SAT is a standardized test meant to show schools how prepared you are for college by measuring key skills like reading comprehension, computational ability, and clarity of expression. This is an entrance exam used by most colleges and universities to make admissions decisions. College admissions officers will review standardized test scores alongside your high school GPA, the classes you took in high school, letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors, extracurricular activities, admissions interviews, and personal essays. The length of the SAT is 3 hours, plus 50 minutes if you’re also taking the optional essay. The higher you score on the SAT, the more options will be available to you in attending and paying for college.

SAT Format

The SAT measures a student’s skills in three core areas: Critical Reading, Math and Writing. The reading test measures comprehension and reasoning skills and focuses on close reading of passages in a wide array of subject areas. The writing and language test includes command of evidence, expression of ideas, and use of grammar and punctuation. The math section includes questions that assess skills in algebra, problem solving and data analysis, manipulation of complex equations, geometry, and trigonometry. The SAT also includes an essay that is optional.

SAT Takers and Scores

Students in grades 11 and 12 take the SAT so they can submit their scores to colleges. Each section of the SAT is scored on a 200 to 800 point scale. The highest possible SAT is score is a 1600.

students taking SAT

Difference between SAT 1 and SAT 2

The SAT I was originally meant to test aptitude and the SAT II was meant to test achievement. One tested what you were capable of and the other tested what you knew. In 2016 changes were made to the SAT I, which made it just the SAT now and it is much more focused on testing knowledge rather than logic.

Changes to SAT

The SAT was redesigned and implemented in the spring of 2016. The new SAT emphasizes higher-level logical and reasoning skills. The reading and writing questions are now entirely passage-based, giving more opportunity to test a deeper understanding of how the passage is logically constructed and to draw connections between different parts of the passage. The math section emphasizes more practical, realistic scenarios and introduces multi-step problems. The essay is optional and now instead of having 25 minutes, you have 50 minutes to complete it. Instead of five answer choices for each question, there are only four now. Calculators no longer allowed during some portions of the math section.

Benefits of Taking the SAT

Taking the SAT helps students navigate their path through high school toward college and career. Below are few benefits of taking the SAT.


  • Opens doors to college.
  • Provides consistent feedback across assessments to help students stay on course.
  • Prepares students with free practice.
  • Helps students plan their careers.
  • Connects students to scholarship opportunities.
  • Increases access to AP and college credit.
  • Inspires productive practice.

Preparing for the SAT

The best way students can prepare for the SAT is to do well in school and take rigorous courses, such as AP or honors. Students should also consider taking practice tests and becoming familiar with the exam. Taking practice tests on your own or with a test prep class can help you gauge your performance on the day of the real test. In addition to taking practice tests, students should also practice reading articles on unfamiliar subject matters before the test. If students allow themselves plenty of time to study for the SAT, they will have nothing to worry about the day of the exam. It’s important to get enough sleep the night before an exam and not stay up the night before cramming for the test, or studying last minute. Students can also prepare for their SAT by hiring a tutor who can sit with them a few times a week. An SAT tutor can make the test-taking experience easier, less stressful, and more productive from start to finish.