SAT exam & exam prep overview

From A+ Club Lesson Planner & Study Guide

Note: the College Board launched a new, digital format of the SAT test as of the March 9, 2024 U.S. national testing date. (The International SAT and PSAT were changed to digital formats in 2023.) See here for the changes. This and some other pages on this wiki regarding SAT prep were created for the old, paper version of the test. The skills and strategies remain the same, although the format of the test has changed. The largest change is in the Reading passages, which are paragraph- and not page-length now. Grammar and punctuation questions remain largely the same.

See SAT Digital Reading and Writing Test quick start guide for strategies, skills, and techniques for the new, digital exam, and Category:SAT digital test for related pages.

SAT Exam Prep

SAT exam overview[edit | edit source]

  • The SAT exam is owned by the College Board (CB)
    • we will use "CB" here, although the College Board does not refer to itself by the abbreviation)
  • SAT
    • it is no longer an abbreviation (i.e., "S.A.T.")
      • it originally stood for "Scholastic Assessment Test"
      • in 1993 the CB re-branded the test to "SAT" unto itself and not as an abbreviation (i.e., dropping "Scholastic Assessment Test")
      • since the word "aptitude" means "innate ability", College Board was accused of racism, given different SAT score averages by race
  • SAT tests are developed and administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS) under contract from CB
    • SAT accounts for 25% of ETS's functions
    • ETS creates also develops and administers TOEFL ("Test of English as a Foreign Language"), GRE (graduate school admissions), and Praxis (for teachers)
  • note that CB and ETS are non-profits but both engage in aggressive business practices

SAT & standardized college aptitude tests history[edit | edit source]

  • achievement or admissions tests were used by 1870
  • "College Entrance Examination Board," was formed in in 1899 by various colleges/ universities
  • First "Scholastic Aptitude Test" exam administered in 1926
  • the purpose of the SAT was to create a merit-based college admissions metric independent of student grades, school, and demographic
  • originally called the "Scholastic Aptitude Test"
  • subject tests were added in 1937 called "Scholarship Test"
  • in 1993, the names for the tests were changed:
    • "Scholastic Aptitude Test" now the "SAT I: Reasoning Test"
    • "Scholarship Test" now the "SAT II: Subject Test"
    • the entire suite of tests was not called "Scholastic Assessment Tests"
    • the "SAT" was declared to stand for nothing (not an abbreviation)
  • "SAT I" was dropped in 2004
  • the "Reasoning Test" was dropped in 2016
  • SAT digital test will launch
  • sources:

SAT exam format changes[edit | edit source]

2016 format changes[edit | edit source]

  • in 2014, College Board announced fundamental changes in the SAT test
    • CB claimed it was because the test had "become disconnected from the work of our high schools.”
    • it was also in response rising popularity of the ACT test CB changed core test format
  • starting 2016, the SAT changes included:
    • total score returned to 1600
    • 4 instead of 5 possible answers
    • dropped the 1/4-point penalty for wrong answers
      • the penalty was designed to encourage skipping and penalize random guessing
    • math narrowed to focus on linear equations, equations or functions, rations, percentages and proportional reasoning
    • "critical reading" section changed to "evidence-based" (passage-based) reading excerpts (like the ACT)
    • grammar section changed to "evidence-based" (passage-based) reading excerpts (like the ACT)
    • verbal section vocabulary changed to evidence-based selection and use of more common words
    • essay now optional (thus the total score of 1600 instead of the previous 2400)
    • CB partnered with Khan Academy in order to offer free preparation instruction and practice

2021 change: essay & subject tests dropped[edit | edit source]

  • the College Board dropped the essay (after the June, 2021 test, although it will be offered in some states as per state rules
  • also dropped Subject Tests
    • the official reason for these changes was because of changes in college admissions requirements due to the COVID crisis
    • anecdotally, we can assume it was due to severe drop in revenue as result of the crisis

2023-24 change: shortened digital exam[edit | edit source]

  • College Board announced in February of 2022
    • the SAT and related exams will be administered digitally starting with the International SAT test in 2023
    • the test will still be administered at a school or testing site
    • test will be taken on a laptop provided by CB at testing site
  • Format changes
    • 2 hour exam (approx)
    • Reading section passages to be shortened and with a single question per each
      • likely a short paragraph as was in prior SAT formats
    • Calculators will be allowed on all math questions
    • the test will still score on 1600 point scale
  • CB stated purpose
    • CB says scores and college reports will be quicker
  • Likely purpose: cost savings
    • the digital format will save money for CB
    • the shorter exam will be easer
    • attempt to maintain relevancy for SAT
      • especially while many colleges (such as Univ. California system) are not requiring or even considering SAT scores
    • to complete with ACT
    • CB still struggles with racial deviations in average scores
  • Rollout:
    • Spring 2023 the International SAT will be administered by computer
    • Fall 2023 the PSAT will be administered by computer
    • Spring 2024 the US SAT will be administered by computer
  • see

Preparation & Practice Options[edit | edit source]

  • the College Board published the "Official SAT Practice Book"
    • 2018 edition
      • includes Practice tests 1-8
    • 2021 edition
      • includes Practice tests 1, 3, 4-10
  • Princeton Review
    • started in 1981, now owned by ST Unitas, a Korean Ed-tech company

SAT exam college application requirements[edit | edit source]

SAT exam prep strategies[edit | edit source]

  • "practice" = replication of performance or game-day sitution
    • therefore, "SAT practice" is NOT online
    • online "practice" is "enrichment" not "practice"

SAT enrichment[edit | edit source]

  • enrichment means enhancement, getting better
  • there are many enrichment sites and manuals
    • treat them as enrichment and not practice
  • daily problems, vocabulary, etc. is excellent enrichment
    • but it is not practice
  • above all, ON-LINE "practice" is not practice
    • the test is not on-line: it is sit-down, on-paper
    • therefore, SAT prep that is not sit-down, online, with official practice or released actual tests, using pencil, clock, and bubble sheet IS NOT PRACTICE

SAT practice[edit | edit source]

  • practice is mimicking test-day situation
    • research shows that replication via practice of actual exam situation yields higher actual exam results
  • SAT practice looks like:
    • desk and chair
    • Official SAT practice test in booklet form
      • not one-sided sheets, not online: booklet
    • using pencil and bubble sheet
    • analog clock (could be a computer app)
    • no distractions
    • full-length practice tests
      • can be divided by section, but not less than a section

Benefits of SAT practice[edit | edit source]

  • familiarity with the types of passages and questions
  • developing elimination strategies
  • de-coding the way the test-makers build correct and, more importantly, incorrect answers
  • tome awareness
  • review of responses and understanding why answers are right or wrong
  • identify Easy-Medium-Hard questions and passages
  • increasing accuracy and efficiency with each practice exam
  • bubble sheets use and strategies
  • maintaining focus across full-length practice
    • building resistance to length and getting past boring
    • getting used to test-day situation
    • sitting upright & no distractions
    • use of juice, fruit-bar, or other natural source of glucose (natural sugar) for refreshment between sections as you would on test day
    • practicing breathing, stretching, fidgeting and other refocusing strategies

SAT Verbal[edit | edit source]

SAT Reading[edit | edit source]

  • SAT Reading Section Test Directions:
    • Students are to answer questions based upon:
      • what is stated" in the text or graphs (explicit meanings, textual and direct comprehension)
      • what is "implied" in the text or graphs (implicit meanings, inference, deduction, identification of author purpose and techniques)
  • SAT Reading Test Structure
    • Students have 65 minutes to answer 52 questions
    • Reading test has five readings with 10 or 11 questions each
      • = average 13:00 min per reading passage
      • note: two readings contain 11 questions so may take longer

Go to SAT Reading for more

SAT Writing[edit | edit source]

  • SAT Writing Section Test Directions
    • students are to answer questions based upon:
      • revising text for effective expression of ideas
      • correcting grammatical errors, such as sentence structure, usage, or punctuation
      • interpret graphs and apply to text corrections
    • some questions will refer to an underlined portion of a passage
    • some questions will ask you to consider a portion of a passage or the passage as a whole
    • the correct answer “most effectively improves the quality of writing”
    • correct answers conform to “conventions of standard English”
  • SAT Writing Test Structure
    • students have 35 min. to answer 44 questions
    • test has four readings passages with 11 questions each
      • = average of 8:45 min per passage

Go to SAT Writing for more

SAT Essay[edit | edit source]

  • SAT Essay section cancelled as of June 2021
    • along with SAT subject tests
  • SAT Essay provides valuable practice and skills for rhetorical analysis

Other Resources & Pages[edit | edit source]

SAT Math[edit | edit source]

SAT Math without Calculator[edit | edit source]

SAT Math with Calculator[edit | edit source]