SAT FAQs

The SAT may seem daunting, but with our help you have nothing to be scared of. Read the FAQs below to understand what you're dealing with and how you can succeed:

What is the SAT?

The SAT is a standardized, multiple-choice test used to assess how ready you are to go to college. It is owned and developed by the College Board, a private company.

The SAT is not an IQ test and it does not test how smart you are. It's not your usual math or grammar test-the SAT is its own thing. Sure, the SAT might be easier for you if you have high grades in your math and English classes. But the only way to score high on the SAT is to practice, practice, practice! With practice, you become familiar with the SAT test format and can use different strategies to answer questions accurately and quickly.

Why should I take the SAT?

Almost all colleges and universities in the U.S. require the SAT for admissions. The SAT serves as one standardized tool to compare all students from around the country (and other countries, too!) on one scale. For example, it can be difficult to compare students from California to New York since they experience different schooling and statewide tests. Therefore, there needs to be one tool to equally assess both California students and New York students, and this tool is the SAT.

By sitting for the SAT, you are being compared to all students around the country and globe who are competing for seats in different colleges and universities. Therefore, it's crucial that you score high.

Additionally, some schools offer scholarships to incoming students who score high on the SAT or exceed a certain score. It is in your best interest to score high on the SAT to increase your chances of earning these scholarships.

How many sections does the SAT have? How many questions are there? How long do I have to complete each section?

The SAT has four sections:

Reading 52 multiple-choice questions 65 minutes
Writing and Language 44 multiple-choice questions 35 minutes
Math (no calculator) 15 multiple-choice questions
5 short-response questions
25 minutes
Math (with calculator) 30 multiple-choice questions
8 short-response questions
55 minutes
Essay (Optional) 1 essay question 50 minutes

How is the SAT scored?

Questions are graded based on how many of them you get correct. There is no penalty for getting questions wrong. Therefore, it is in your best interest to put down an answer for each and every question-in other words, don't leave anything blank!

The scores for Section 1 (reading) and Section 2 (writing and language) are added together and then curved to a score from 200-800. This is your Verbal score.

The scores for Section 3 (math without calculator) and Section 4 (math with calculator) are added together and then curved to a score from 200-800. This is your Math score.

These scores are then added to make a final score from 400-1600. This is your overall SAT score.

Tell me more about the optional essay section.

The essay section is at the end of the SAT. It's not required, but it will definitely look great on you if you take it. Writing an essay may seem daunting to many students, but we teach our students the golden strategy of writing the SAT-specific essay that results in top (and usually perfect) scores.

You get three individual scores for the SAT essay, each one ranging from 2-8: one for reading, one for analysis, and one for writing.

Here at Khan's Tutorial, we encourage all our students to sit for the SAT essay section. We are confident that our SAT essay writing strategies are effective and easy for anyone to follow and will lead to amazingly high scores.

Some students who don't sit for the SAT essay section may find an "experimental section" on the SAT. Although this section doesn't count towards your overall score, answering extra questions may be distracting and drain your energy away. To avoid this experimental section, we encourage you to sit for the essay section.

When is the SAT offered?

The SAT is offered on the following dates:

  • October 6, 2018
  • November 3, 2018
  • December 1, 2018
  • March 9, 2019
  • May 4, 2019
  • June 1, 2019

When are SAT scores released?

Most SAT scores are released 2-3 weeks after test day. June SAT scores take longer, usually up to six weeks.

What are SAT Subject Tests? Should I take them too?

SAT Subject Tests (also called SAT IIs) are "specialty tests" that focus only on a single subject (i.e. Biology, Chemistry, World History). They are all multiple-choice tests that last one hour each. You can take up to three SAT Subject Tests per test date, but you can't take both the SAT and SAT Subject Tests on the same day.

SAT Subject Tests look absolutely great on your college application. The key is to take the ones that you believe will give you an advantage. For example, if you're great with numbers, perhaps the SAT Math Level II is one you should take. If you're currently taking AP Chemistry, you should sit for the SAT Chemistry test at the end of the year.

Most competitive schools (i.e. NYU, Columbia) require that you take SAT Subject Tests. Here at Khan's Tutorial, we encourage students to sit for a minimum of two SAT Subject Tests, although we highly recommend they take three.

If you have any doubts, please contact us for a free diagnostic test and consultation! We can help you determine which tests you should take and how to prepare for them.

What is the PSAT? How is it different from the SAT?

In terms of content, there is practically no difference between the PSAT and SAT.

The PSAT is much shorter than the SAT. Additionally, the PSAT is used for eligibility for a National Merit scholarship for college, while the SAT is used for college admissions.

Juniors take the PSAT in October. However, many high schools offer the PSAT to freshman and sophomores for practice.

What is the ACT? How is it different from the SAT?

The ACT is another standardized test used for college admissions. Popular opinion dictates that the SAT is more important. However, most colleges and universities accept both the SAT and ACT with no particular preference. You should check each college's individual requirements.

In terms of content, both the SAT and ACT are similar despite three key differences:

  1. The ACT has a science section.
  2. The math portion on the ACT is more straightforward but contains more advanced topics.
  3. The ACT essay is opinion-based, unlike the SAT essay which is based on passage analysis.

Some popular schools and programs require both the SAT and ACT (i.e. Sophie Davis BS/MD program). Again, you should check each college's individual requirements.

What is a good SAT score? What SAT score do I need to get into a good college?

Ah, the golden question! Every college is different, and there is no one score that can guarantee you admission into a certain college. Besides, there's much more that gets factored into college admissions other than your SAT score (i.e. high school GPA, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, college essays).

Here at Khan's Tutorial, we recommend that students score at least a 1400 to be considered by top colleges and universities.

Please visit us for a free diagnostic test and consultation! We can determine how you are at the moment and what the best means of preparation is for you. There's no general pathway of scoring high on the SAT or getting into a certain college. But together, we can develop a personalized plan and help you get closer and closer to your dream score...and your dream school.

How do I prepare for the SAT?

The only way to practice for the SAT is through consistent practice.

Always practice every day and avoid long periods of not practicing. Preparing for the SAT is like a diet: eating a salad once won't make you fit and eating a chocolate bar once won't make you fat. Similarly, studying for the SAT once won't make any difference. Studying for 12 hours one day after two months of inconsistency won't do you any justice, either. There's no shortcut to consistent practice.

Please visit us for a free diagnostic test and consultation! We can determine how you are at the moment and what the best means of preparation is for you. There's no specific one plan that works for everyone, since everyone has different backgrounds and needs. But together, we can develop a personalized plan and help you get closer and closer to your dream score...and your dream school.



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