Ten questions that one always wanted to ask about SAT
1. What is SAT anyway?
The college board administers the SAT exams. When started it was referred to as Scholastic Aptitude Test, but not anymore. Now it is just SAT, and acts as the gatekeeper between the students seeking college admission and the colleges/universities.SAT® is a registered trademark of the collegeboard.
The SAT exam has four sections. Section 1: tests English language reading comprehension skills, Section 2: English language grammar and writing skills, Section 3: tests the ability to solve math problems without calculator and the Section 4: tests the proficiency to solve math problems with the aid of a calculator.
The SAT exam is 3 h long, 154 questions, in four subject areas. The optional single essay section adds additional 50 minutes to the exam. The accompanying table details the breakdown of different sections namely, number of questions per section, how much time may be allotted per question, number of multiple choices and other pertinent details. This test is intimidating to most people who are clueless about preparing for it.
No. of Questions
No. of Choices
Time per Q#
A, B, C, D
Writing & Language
A, B, C, D
Math - No calculator
A, B, C, D
Math - Calculator
A, B, C, D
Total test time for MCQ
MCQ plus optional essay
3H 50 Min.
Total test time with MCQ + essay
Ideally you should take the test during the spring semester of the junior year in the high school. If you aim to apply for early decision, then you must have the scores ready by the month of July, just before the starting your high school senior year.
5. How long should you study for the SAT exam?
The amount of quality preparation time you put-in directly reflects the final score. Typically, 120 hours of preparation time have demonstrated to improve the scores by 100-120 points. If you want to score above 95th percentile, then you need to have completed honor level courses in English, Science, Math (Precal/Trig and above) and social studies, and practice more than 300 hours of intensive preparation.
6. When should I start preparing for the SAT exam?
Historically, SAT exam is offered in the months of March, May, June, July, August, October, November, and December. If you are prepared to dedicate two to three hours for test preparation every day of the week and your goal is to get above 1500 (out of 1600), then you must put in at least ten weeks of intensive preparation. The more quality hours you put in, higher the scores will be.
7. Define quality intensive preparation.
No distraction from cell phone, television, loud distracting music and internet. If you are using any online based test preparation programs, do not get distracted and browse unrelated websites. Background music – If you are accustomed to background sound for your studies, test administration policies do not allow background music in the exam hall. Consequently, you may not be allowed to use earphones and may have to suffer in silence 🙁
If you cannot take these tests in a distraction free environment, take the help of test preparation centers that provide near official test taking conditions. There are several test preparation centers and online tutoring services that provide a distraction free environment as per the guidelines set forth by the testing centers. These centers may charge a fee to use their facilities. Some centers may provide a more detailed test analysis as well.
Several companies publish test preparation books. Each of the books trains you for the same test, but the presentation style differs. Therefore, it is advisable to browse several of these guidebooks and choose the one or a few that suits your learning style. Alternately, you may enlist the help of test preparation companies.
10. Can you really study for the SAT exam?
It is really a good question. Many are surprised to learn that all the standardized tests such as ACT, SAT, PERT etc. assess the knowledge gained over the years beginning from the elementary school. Therefore, subject matter proficiency is the basis to earn the highscores in these exams. During the test preparation period,
- hone your skill to successfully recall and apply all the accumulated knowledge in less than three hours
- learn test taking skills.
Repeatedly, it has been observed that the perfect scorers have subject matter proficiency and have mastered the test taking skills😊
About the author:
Dr. Pochi is the director of Full Potential Learning Academy, Miami’s premier one-on-one tutoring center. He is a passionate educator and committed to serve underserved communities. Formerly, Dr. Pochi was a research faculty at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, He is a National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded investigator whose peer-reviewed work has been published in many scientific journals.
He discovered ‘Nayurvin’, a molecule with demonstrated anti-cancer properties. He wants to transform FPLA to a degree granting institution
Subbarayan R Pochi Ph.D.
FPLA is Miami’s premier tutoring center in reading, math, science, and test preparation programs. You can realize your dreams with the help of FPLA’s time-tested and dependable one-on-one tutoring both onsite and online. We tutor all subjects and grades. Thanks to our state-of-the-art online platform you can learn from our expert tutors one-on-one from the comfort of your home. This live One-on-One program ensures stability, dependability, and consistency in the quality of student tutor interactions. Call 305-826-1896 for a free consultation and schedule a demo of our live one-on-one online session.
SAT(R)or AP(R), is a trademark registered / owned by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse, this product/site.