SAT 1 & 2 Overview
SAT (The Scholastic Aptitude Test or Scholastic Assessment Test) is a standardized test for college admissions in the United States. The SAT is owned, published, and developed by the College Board, a not-for-profit organization in the United States. It was formerly developed, published, and scored by the Educational Testing Service which still administers the exam. The test is intended to assess a student’s readiness for college. It was first introduced in 1901, and its name and scoring have changed several times.
The current SAT Reasoning Test, introduced in 2005, takes three hours and forty-five minutes to finish. Possible scores range from 600 to 2400, combining test results from three 800-point sections (Mathematics, Critical Reading, and Writing).
The College Board states that the SAT measures literacy and writing skills that are needed for academic success in college. They state that the SAT assesses how well the test takers analyze and solve problems—skills they learned in school that they will need in college. The SAT is typically taken by high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Specifically, the College Board states that the use of the SAT in combination with high school grade point average (GPA) provides a better indicator of success in college than high school grades alone, as measured by college freshman GPA. Various studies conducted over the lifetime of the SAT show a statistically significant increase in correlation of high school grades and freshman grades when the SAT is factored in
SAT consists of three major sections: Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing. Each section receives a score on a scale of 200–800. All scores are multiples of 10. Total scores are calculated by adding up scores of the three sections. Each major section is divided into three parts. There are 10 sub-sections, including an additional 25-minute experimental or “equating” section that may be in any of the three major sections. The experimental section is used to normalize questions for future administrations of the SAT and does not count toward the final score. The test contains 3 hours and 45 minutes of actual timed sections, although most administrations, including orientation, distribution of materials, completion of biographical sections, and eleven minutes of timed breaks, run about four and a half hours long. The questions range from easy, medium, and hard depending on the scoring from the experimental sections. Easier questions typically appear closer to the beginning of the section while harder questions are towards the end in certain sections. This is not true for every section but it is the rule of thumb mainly for math and sentence completions and vocabulary.
The Critical Reading (formerly Verbal) section of the SAT is made up of three scored sections: two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section, with varying types of questions, including sentence completions and questions about short and long reading passages. Critical Reading sections normally begin with 5 to 8 sentence completion questions; the remainder of the questions is focused on the reading passages. Sentence completions generally test the student’s vocabulary and understanding of sentence structure and organization by requiring the student to select one or two words that best complete a given sentence. The bulk of the Critical Reading section is made up of questions regarding reading passages, in which students read short excerpts on social sciences, humanities, physical sciences, or personal narratives and answer questions based on the passage. Certain sections contain passages asking the student to compare two related passages; generally, these consist of shorter reading passages. The number of questions about each passage is proportional to the length of the passage. Unlike in the Mathematics section, where questions go in the order of difficulty, questions in the Critical Reading section go in the order of the passage. Overall, the question sets towards the beginning of the section are easier, and question sets towards the end of the section are harder.
The Mathematics section of the SAT is widely known as the Quantitative Section or Calculation Section. The mathematics section consists of three scored sections. There are two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section, as follows:
• One of the 25-minute sections is entirely multiple-choice, with 20 questions.
• The other 25-minute section contains 8 multiple choice questions and 10 grid-in questions. The 10 grid-in questions have no penalty for incorrect answers because the student guessing isn’t limited.
• The 20-minute section is all multiple choice, with 16 questions.
Notably, the SAT has done away with quantitative comparison questions on the math section, leaving only questions with symbolic or numerical answers.
• New topics include Algebra II and scatter plots. These recent changes have resulted in a shorter, more quantitative exam requiring higher-level mathematics courses relative to the previous exam.
The writing section of the SAT, based on but not directly comparable to the old SAT II subject test in writing, includes multiple-choice questions and a brief essay. The essay subscore contributes about 28% towards the total writing score, with the multiple-choice questions contributing 70%. This section was implemented in March 2005 following complaints from colleges about the lack of uniform examples of a student’s writing ability and critical thinking.
The multiple-choice questions include error identification questions, sentence improvement questions, and paragraph improvement questions. Error identification and sentence improvement questions test the student’s knowledge of grammar, presenting an awkward or grammatically incorrect sentence; in the error identification section, the student must locate the word producing the source of the error or indicate that the sentence has no error, while the sentence improvement section requires the student to select an acceptable fix to the awkward sentence. The paragraph improvement questions test the student’s understanding of the logical organization of ideas, presenting a poorly written student essay and asking a series of questions as to what changes might be made to best improve it.
The essay section, which is always administered as the first section of the test, is 25 minutes long. All essays must be in response to a given prompt. The prompts are broad and often philosophical and are designed to be accessible to students regardless of their educational and social backgrounds. For instance, test takers may be asked to expound on such ideas as their opinion on the value of work in human life or whether technological change also carries negative consequences to those who benefit from it. No particular essay structure is required, and the College Board accepts examples “taken from [the student’s] reading, studies, experience, or observations.” Two trained readers assign each essay a score between 1 and 6, where a score of 0 is reserved for essays that are blank, off-topic, non-English, not written with a Number 2 pencil, or considered illegible after several attempts at reading. The scores are summed to produce a final score from 2 to 12 (or 0). If the two readers’ scores differ by more than one point, then a senior third reader decides. The average time each reader/grader spends on each essay is less than 3 minutes.
Style of questions
Most of the questions on the SAT, except for the essay and the grid-in math responses, are multiple choice; all multiple-choice questions have five answer choices, one of which is correct. The questions of each section of the same type are generally ordered by difficulty. However, an important exception exists: Questions that follow the long and short reading passages are organized chronologically, rather than by difficulty. Ten of the questions in one of the math sub-sections are not multiple choice. They instead require the test taker to bubble in a number in a four-column grid.
The questions are weighted equally. For each correct answer, one raw point is added. For each incorrect answer one-fourth of a point is deducted. No points are deducted for incorrect math grid-in questions. This ensures that a student’s mathematically expected gain from guessing is zero. The final score is derived from the raw score; the precise conversion chart varies between test administrations.
The SAT, therefore, recommends only making educated guesses, that is, when the test taker can eliminate at least one answer he or she thinks is wrong. Without eliminating any answers one’s probability of answering correctly is 20%. Eliminating one wrong answer increases this probability to 25% (and the expected gain to 1/16 of a point); two, a 33.3% probability (1/6 of a point); and three, a 50% probability (3/8 of a point).
Section Average Score Time (Minutes) Content
Writing 493 60 Grammar, usage, and diction.
Mathematics 515 70 Number and operations; algebra and functions; geometry; statistics, probability, and data analysis
Critical Reading 501 70 Critical reading and sentence-level reading
SAT SUBJECT TEST
SAT Subject Tests is the name for 20 multiple-choice standardized tests given on individual subjects, usually taken to improve a student’s credentials for admission to colleges in the United States. Students typically choose which tests to take depending upon college entrance requirements for the schools to which they are planning to apply. Until 1994, the SAT Subject Tests were known as Achievement Tests, and until January 2005, they were known as SAT IIs; they are still commonly known by these names. Every test is now a one-hour timed test. Historically, the exception to the one-hour time was the writing test, which was divided into a 20-minute essay question and a 40-minute multiple-choice section; it was discontinued after January 2005.
SAT SUBJECT TEST INCLUDES:
US history, Maths level 1, Maths Level 2, Biology M(molecular), Biology E(ecological), World History, Chemistry, Physics, Literature and Language(French, German, Japanese, Latin, Hebrew, Italian, Chinese, Korean, Spanish)
Scoring and Admissions
Each individual test is scored on a scale of 200 to 800; however, some of the tests are scored on such generous curves that it is impossible to get a 200; for example, if someone gets every question wrong on the Mathematics Level 2 test, he/she might receive a score of 310; it all depends on the version of the test. The one and only exception were the ELPT, which was scored on a scale of 901 to 999.
Prior to the first administration of the new SAT (which includes the writing section) in March 2005, some highly selective colleges required applicants to take three SAT Subject tests, including the writing test and two other tests of the applicant’s choosing, in addition to the SAT. However, with writing now a standard component of the SAT I, most selective colleges recommend applicants to submit scores for any two SAT Subject tests. Engineering schools typically require Chemistry or Physics and prefer Math Level 2. A handful of the most competitive schools, such as the University of Toronto, still require three Subject tests in addition to the three sections of the SAT, while schools such as Georgetown and Harvard, which earlier required 3 tests, now ‘strongly recommend’ taking three Subject tests.