College Student Blog

11 May, 2008

The SAT – An Overview

Posted by: Parker In: Admissions

SAT Introduction

The SAT is becoming more and more like the ACT in regards to style and question variety. In 2005, the University of California’s president stated that the SAT should be abolished as an admissions requirement. This threat sent the CollegeBoard into panic mode, which ultimately led to the complete restructuring of the SAT. I will not go in depth as to what these changes entailed, as it is now irrelevant to the current and future administerings of the exam.


For those of you who did not read my last post, More Testing – ACT & SAT I suggest you do if you have an interest in the ACT or how the ACT and SAT geographically match-up.

SAT Test Sections

The SAT is divided into three sections, critical reading, math, and writing. Unlike the ACT, it does not contain a natural science portion.

Critical Reading

Consisting of two 25 minute sections and one 20 minute section, the critical reading portion covers topics such as sentence completion and rhetorical analysis of short and long reading passages.

With this variety of questions, the SAT hopes to test vocabulary, analytical and grammatical skills.


The math section has the same number and length of tests as the critical reading, two 25 and one 20 minute section.

After the SAT’s reform, the math section now only contains straightforward symbolic and numerical answers so that students no longer are “tricked” by the test.

Although I have never taken the SAT, I would expect it to have a very similar math section to that of the ACT. In that it would include pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.




The SAT always begins with the writing’s essay section of the test. During the 25 minutes that test takers are allowed, they are expected to write a solid, analytical piece on a provided general topic.

Each essay is graded by two graders, and their scores are summed to yield a number out of 12 possible points. This essay section is 30% of the Writing portion. The multiple choice accounts for the other 70%.

Multiple Choice

The majority of the Writing section drills test taker’s grammatical knowledge. They are asked to identify errors, improve sentences and paragraphs, and use logic to determine the order and relevance of sentences.

SAT Scoring

Each section is worth 800 points, with a total possible score of 2400. The average SAT score, when averaging the past couple years, is 1518 of 2400.

SAT to ACT Conversion

Provided by the CollegeBoard, the following is the unofficial conversion chat between the two tests. Many colleges have their own conversion chats, although they will only vary slightly from the one below.


Admission’s Essays

In the next few posts, I will be covering the ins and outs of college admission’s essays. I will start with general info about these essays, such as “Do College’s Really Give Weight To These?” and move onto essay improvement and dos/don’ts!

Thank you for following in the admissions series. If you have any topic which you would like me to cover, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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