The real struggle towards building your career begins after you finish high school and decide to pursue graduation in the field of your choice. The idea of finishing your graduation from a renowned university abroad might seem like herding cats, but it really doesn’t have to. If you determined and are willing to work hard, you can finish your graduation from your dream university abroad, without a hitch. The first step to this is to get admission into the foreign college or university of your choice and for that to happen, your SAT score is a necessity. No matter what undergraduate course you want to take admission in, you required to take SAT, especially for any US university. For the same, one needs to know the SAT exam details.

In this article, we have explained everything you need to know about SAT, before appearing for the examination; we will guide you through the complete format of the examination and will also give you some tips to prepare for the same.

What is SAT Exam?

First, let us get acquainted with what is SAT.

SAT stands for ‘Scholastic Assessment test’ and is an entrance test for students aspiring to admit for undergraduate courses abroad, especially in the US and Canada colleges and universities. It is a written paper-pencil test and helps evaluate the language and mathematical reasoning skills of the applicants. Also, the universities you apply to, also take into consideration your SAT scores when you apply for admission.

Update: What’s new with the SAT Exam | Digital SAT 2023

What is the New SAT?

In the year 2016, major changes were made in the SAT examination format and pattern and it converted to the New SAT. Though the basic eligibility and maxim of the exam are the same, a lot of the other things, including the subject names, examination duration and valuation pattern has been changed in the New SAT. 

Where the old SAT exam contained sections of critical reading, writing and Mathematics, the new SAT exam contains sections of evidence-based reading & writing and Mathematics. There is also an essay section in the examination, but it is optional for the applicants. We would suggest you appear for the essay section of the examination too, as that can help you improve your SAT scores.

The time duration for the SAT has also been changed in the new SAT from 3 hours 45 minutes to 3 hours for the applicants not appearing for the essay section and 3 hours 50 minutes for the applicants appearing for the essay section. Besides this, the new SAT valuation system has also been changed, where the papers are now valued between a score range of 400-1600, in place of the old 600-2400 scale. Also, there is no marks penalty for wrong answers in the New SAT.

What is the eligibility criteria for SAT Exam?

Even though there are no set SAT exam eligibility or age criteria for appearing in the SAT text, students usually appear for this examination after they have finished high school and have to admit for undergraduate courses. So, generally, students within the age group of 16-18 years take this test.

However, you must note that there is no set age limit for appearing in the examination. The applicants in the age group of 12 years or less are also eligible to apply for SAT, but by mail only. There is no upper age bar for the examination.

How to register and apply for the SAT test?

The SAT test registration only has one requirement and it is that you must have a valid original passport if you are appearing for the examination.
Registering for the SAT test is a very easy process and like most examination, for SAT too you have to apply online, except for some situations in which the applicants can apply by mail. Both the online and mail application process has been discussed below in brief.

Online registration:

  1. You need to register online and create a profile on the College Board website.
  2. You need to fill the complete SAT application form thoroughly on the website and create a corresponding student profile for yourself.
  3. Once all the personal and educational details filled, you need to select the test and test centre for the examination.
  4. Then you have to upload a clear photograph of yourself on the form.
  5. After this, you have to pay the respective examination fee online and submit the application.
  6. After submission, once your examination admission ticket is available you only need to print that for your examination.

Must read: Top 5 scholarship Exams to Study Abroad after 12th

Application through mail:

This system of SAT application is available for candidates in the conditions, if the candidate is  –

  • 13 years or younger in age
  • wants to request testing near their home
  • are unable to upload a digital photograph
  • Want to pay the examination fee by money order or check.

The registration process in these cases is as given below.

  • You need to request SAT student registration booklet from your education counsellor or School board.
  • You need to fill the application form for the SAT examination available in the booklet according to the guidelines given in the booklet.
  • This filled application form along with the money order/check for the application fee of the examination should mailed to the address given on the booklet in a registration envelope.

What is the fees structure for applying for the New SAT test?

The fees structure for the New SAT test can divided into two parts, viz. for applicants appearing for the optional essay section and for the applicants not appearing for the essay section. The fees structure for both categories is as given below.

  • For applicants appearing for the essay section: US $ 64.50+ US $ 49 = US $ 113.5
  • For applicants not appearing for the essay section: US $ 47.50 + US $ 49 = US $ 96.5.

What is the New SAT Exam format?

As we have mentioned above, the new SAT test format 2019 consists of three sections, which are the Experience-based reading and writing section, Mathematics and the optional essay section. To explain the SAT exam format better, we have further described each of the sections individually in detail.

  • Evidence-based reading and writing (EBRW) section:

This section of the SAT examination evaluates your English language skills and gives a score between 200-800. It is further divided into reading and writing sections, while the final score determined by the combined score of both these sections.

A. Reading section:

The reading section of the SAT exam is 65 minutes long and comprises of 52 multiple-choice questions. These questions based on 5 passages and all questions are evidence-based that require the student to analyze and interpret the information given in the passages.

Passages may be single or paired with informational graphics such as charts or tables. The passages are drawn from the US and World Literature, History/Social Studies and Science. You are expected to read the passage carefully and answer the questions properly in a way as expected or asked in the questions.

The questions asked in this section are generally of three types, i.e Factual questions based directly or indirectly on the main idea of the passage, Rhetoric questions that will ask you to discuss the meaning, style or tone conveyed in the passage and the Synthesis questions that will ask you to draw a conclusion or connection between given passages, graphics, charts or tables.

B. Writing Section:

The Writing and Language section of the SAT is 35 minutes long and comprises of 44 multiple choice questions based on 4 passages. This section focuses on your ability to analyze and edit the content of the passage, which means you will have to correct grammar and make changes in the passage. You are asked to edit/rectify errors in sentences within the passage, identify sentences that correct the misinterpretation of a graphical data, select sentences that sharpen an argument or add relevant supporting detail.

Some passages are accompanied by informational graphics, such as tables, graphs and charts. The passages appearing in this section of the examination are narrative, informative, explanatory and argumentative, one of each sort.

The questions asked in this section can be categorised as Standard English Convention questions where you will be asked to correct grammatical errors  and punctuation errors in the given passage and the questions based on Expression of Idea, where you will be asked to improve the language of the passage along with improving the structure and organization of the idea depicted in the passage.


C. SAT Mathematics section:

The Mathematics section of the SAT examination evaluates your mathematical reasoning skills and you will be graded in a score range of 200-800 points. This Section is 80 minutes long and contains 58 questions, of which 80% of the questions are multiple-choice, but the remaining 20% questions are student-produced response questions which are known as Grid-ins, where instead of choosing from 4 answer choices the student will have to solve the problem and enter an answer by circling/shading the appropriate numbers.

This section can be broken down into a No Calculator and a Calculator Section, where the No Calculator section contains 15 multiple choice questions and 5 grid-ins and the Calculator Section contain 30 multiple choice questions and  8 grid-ins. You will be provided with a set of formulas before the test for reference.

The Math test is divided into 4 main areas:

(1) Heart of Algebra, where you will be asked to create or solve algebraic equations like linear equations.
(2) Problem Solving and Data Analysis, where you will be expected to solve questions using ratios, percentages and proportional reasoning or interpret data for given graphs and tables.

(3) Passport to Advanced Math, where you will be expected to solve complex mathematical equations and functions.
(4) Additional topics in Mathematics which include questions based on geometry, Trigonometry and Area & Volume.

SAT Exam Maths Tips

SAT Exam Mathrmatics Tips

D. Essay Section (Optional):

The New SAT has included an optional 50 minutes long Essay section in the examination. Even though it is optional we would recommend you to take the SAT exam with the Essay as some schools may require the essay score.

In this section, you will be provided with a passage and will be asked to analyse how the author effectively builds his or her argument. The essay will not require you to write about a personal experience or argue with a position; rather it requires you to understand the techniques used by the author to write persuasively and support your explanation with evidence from the passage.

How is the SAT scored?

SAT has two main sections- Math and Evidence-based Reading and Writing. You can get a score between 200 and 800 on each of the two sections; making a total score out of 1600.

Points are not deducted for incorrect answers, meaning you can attempt all the questions.

The SAT essay is scored separately. The essay is scored twice, you can get a score of 1-4 both times, making the total possible score of 8 points.

Can I reschedule my SAT test?

Yes, you can. Just login to your College Board account, click on ‘My SAT’ then click on ‘Change Registration’ and follow the procedure and pick a date that best suits you. However, you will be charged a rescheduling fee. 

Can I cancel my SAT test?

Yes, you can. You need to cancel at least 5 days before your scheduled test date, you cannot cancel after that. In case of cancellation, you will only get a partial refund. Cancel only if you do not want to take the SAT, otherwise change your test date.


Timing 3 hrs (without essay)
3 hrs 50 mins (with essay)
2 hrs 55 mins (without essay)
3 hrs 35 mins (with essay)
Exam Pattern English
35 Minutes
44 Questions

80 Minutes
58 Questions

65 Minutes
52 Questions

Essay (Optional)
50 Minutes
1 Essay
Writing & Language
25 Minutes
75 Questions

60 Minutes
60 Questions

35 Minutes
40 Questions

Essay (Optional)
40 Minutes
1 Essay

35 Minutes
40 Questions
Scoring EBRW- 200 to 800
Math- 200 to 800
Total score- 400 to 1600
Essay is scored separately
Each section 1-36
Total score is the average of the scores of your 4 sections
Essay is scored separately
Calculator Only allowed for certain Math questions Allowed for all Math questions

SAT Examination Preparation Tips:

Now that you have understood the SAT paper format and the format of evaluation in SAT, here we have some tips to help you prepare for each section of the SAT examination easily. 

Tips for the EBRW section:

Here we have mentioned some tips to prepare for the Evidence-based Reading and Writing section of the SAT examination. The tips for both the reading and writing section have been mentioned separately below.

SAT Reading Tips:

  1. First off, read each passage thoroughly but not more than once. Since you have to read and solve the questions of 5 passages in 65 minutes so if you waste time re-reading any of the passages, chances are that you might not get enough time to finish all the questions.
  2. Don’t just read the passages with a cursory glance, try to understand it too, as that will help you in pointing out where the answers to each of the passage questions lie.
  3. Since all the questions are multiple-choice and not arranged in the order of difficulty in this section, try to solve as many easy questions as you can at first and leave the difficult questions for later.
  4. Try to solve as many practice question papers as you can when preparing for the exams, as that will help you understand the types of questions asked in the examination and also help you evaluate your potential.
  5. Ask your education counselor to help you understand your weaknesses and try to improve them with rigorous practice. Also, learn to manage time with the practice question papers, so that you can solve the maximum number of questions in your SAT examination.
  6. Lastly, since there is no negative marking system in the new SAT, you will not lose any marks for wrong answers, so even if you are unsure about the answers of some questions, try to answer them too; that way if your answer is right it will help you increase your score.

SAT Writing Tips:

  1. Just like in the reading section, in this section too read all the passages thoroughly but only once, paying complete attention to what you are reading and try to attempt as many questions as possible.
  2. While preparing for the writing section of the SAT exam, the part you need to give the most attention while preparing is Grammar. You need to practice sentence structures, basic grammar and punctuations thoroughly to be prepared for the SAT writing exam.
  3. Also, there are questions based on homophones, idioms, tenses, clauses, so you need to have a thorough knowledge of all these grammatical topics when preparing for the SAT.
  4. Solve as many practice question papers as possible and get them corrected by your education counselor and learn to manage time. Also, consult your counselor about how to best prepare for the writing section of the SAT examination.
  5. Try to save some extra time at the end of each test, so that you can recheck your answers; if you make a habit of this, it will help you in analyzing your answers carefully in your SAT exam.

Tips for the Mathematics Section:

Here are a few SAT tips for Math section, to help you understand how you can score better in the mathematics section of the SAT examination.

  1. Memorize many basic algebraic, trigonometric and geometrical formulae as they will help you majorly in solving a number of multiple-choice questions in both the sections of the SAT mathematics examination.
  2. Practice a lot of mental calculation because you will be needing it in the No Calculator section of the SAT Mathematics Examination. Also, the basic mental calculations will help you save more time even in the Calculator section of the exam, which you can later use to recheck your answers.
  3. Practice multiple practice papers and get them valued by your education counsellor, recognize the mistakes you are making and try to eliminate them. The more you practice, the easier it will be for you to manage time in your SAT examination.
  4. For the Grid-in questions, be precise with your calculations and recheck your answers before marking them on your OMR sheet. Also, try to solve more allegation or mixture problems and learn about tips to solve Mixture problems, as they are a major part of the examination.

Tips for the Optional Essay Section:

Though the Essay section of the SAT examination is optional, we would recommend you to take the examination with this section as it improves your chances of getting admitted to your dream university. So, here we have some tips to help you prepare for the Essay section of your SAT exam.

  1. Your essay must show your understanding of how the author builds an argument by examining the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and other stylistic and persuasive techniques, supporting and developing claims with well-chosen evidence from the passage.
  2. Remember who you are writing for and what will the valuer be looking for in your essay. Try to keep each paragraph of your essay connected to the previous ones as that will help create a flow in your essay making it easy for the valuer to read. Practice organizing your ideas properly in the essay so that it doesn’t seem muddled.
  3. Read and practice writing a lot of SAT essays before the exams. This will help you understand how the essay is written. Also, pay a lot of attention to grammar and writing skills, especially sentence construction as that is the basic unit of your essay.
  4. Try to use considerably good vocabulary in your essay. Even though you are not required to be adept in the use of high vocabulary words, having a good vocabulary depicts your stronghold on the English language. You can take help of Vocabulary Builder articles that can guide you on how you can improve your English vocabulary.

Once you have understood the format of the examination and abide by these tips, you can easily ace your SAT.

Well, that was a lot to take in, but we hope we were able to explain to you all that you needed to know about the SAT. For more learnings, you can join.  

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