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Breaking Down the SAT

What is SAT?
The SAT is a globally recognized college admission test. The SAT is a standardized test for most college admissions in the United States. It is owned, published, and developed by the College Board, a nonprofit organization in the United States. It was formerly developed, published, and scored by the Educational Testing Service which still administers the exam. 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. It tests your knowledge on- reading, writing & math. The SAT and high school grades are both very predictive of college success and, because they are slightly different measures, together they are extremely powerful.
What is the SAT test all about?
The SAT doesn’t test logic or abstract reasoning. It tests the skills that you learn in school: reading, writing and math.
The critical reading section includes reading passages and sentence completions.
The writing section includes a short essay and multiple-choice questions on identifying errors and improving grammar and usage.
The mathematics section includes questions on arithmetic operations, algebra, geometry, statistics and probability.
SAT test format?
SAT consists of three major sections: Critical Reading, Mathematics & Writing. Each section receives a score of 200-800. All scores are multiple of 10. 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. 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 toward the end in certain sections. This is not true for every section (the Critical Reading section is in chronological order) but it is the rule of thumb mainly for math, grammar, and the 19 sentence completions in the reading sections.
Critical reading:
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. The critical reading section totally includes 67 questions of which:
48 questions are passage based reading test which tests your comprehension of what is stated in or implied by the passage. 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.
19 sentence completion questions which test your Vocabulary skills and understanding of the sentence structure by requiring the student to select one or two words that best complete a given sentence. Critical Reading sections normally begin with 5 to 8 sentence completion questions; the remaining questions are focused on the reading passages.
The mathematics section consists of three scored sections. The Math section includes questions on arithmetic operations, algebra, geometry, statistics & probability. There are two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section, as follows:
One of the 25-minute sections is entirely multiple choices, with 20 questions.
The other 25-minute section contains 8 multiple choice questions and 10 grid-in questions. For grid-in questions, test-takers write the answer in a grid on the answer sheet. Unlike multiple choice questions, there is no penalty for incorrect answers on grid-in questions because the test-taker is not limited to a few possible choices.
The 20-minute section is all multiple choices, with 16 questions.
The writing portion of the SAT writing includes multiple choice questions and a short essay. The essay sub score contributes about 28% to the total writing score, with the multiple choice questions contributing 70%. The multiple choice questions include:
25 improving sentences- tests your ability to correct faults in usage and sentence structure, & recognize effective sentences that follow the conventions of standard written English.
18 identifying sentence errors- tests your ability to recognize faults in usage, & recognize effective sentences that follow the conventions of standard written English.
6 improving paragraphs- tests your ability to revise sentences in the context of a paragraph, organize and develop paragraphs in a coherent & logical manner, & apply the conventions of standard written English.
The essay:
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 expand 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 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.
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