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The Insider's Guide to SAT College Admission Test
  • Apr 2022
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The Insider's Guide to SAT College Admission Test

23rd April 2022

SATs or Scholastic Assessment Tests are entrance tests conducted by The College Board for students aspiring to take admissions for undergraduate college courses specially in the US or Canada. It is usually a pencil and paper test  that helps in evaluating the English language and mathematical or analytical reasoning of the applicants. 

The universities you are applying to, take in consideration the SAT scores while reviewing your admission applications. This guide will seek to answer your questions like is sat exam for commerce students? Can adults take the SAT exam? What is SAT exam durability, SAT exam syllabus, etc. 

Eligible Age for SAT Exams

A common question that arises for anyone who wishes to pursue college education in the US or Canada is- Can adults take the SAT exam?

If you are applying to colleges in the US and Canada for undergraduate courses as an adult, you may be concerned about the admission requirement and where you as an adult can take the SAT exam. The answer is actually very simple. Yes, adults can take the SAT exam. There are no limitations on the age, as long as you are planning to seriously appear for the exam and use the scores for the admission process. However, in many cases, you will not have to take the exam as the majority of colleges waive off the test score submissions for individuals over the age of 25. While applying to colleges, make sure that you ask an admission counselor if your SAT scores can be waived off.

Testing as an adult is different from testing for the SAT as a high schooler. The biggest difference is requirements for your ID verification, and the difficulty of getting a place on the SAT waitlist. If you are older than 21 years of age, you cannot hand in your student ID for admission on test day. You are required to bring along an official, government-issued ID card such as a driver’s license, or a passport. 

Although the SAT exam primarily contains high school level questions, it is advised to not take it lightly or underestimate the test. As an adult, there might be some high school topics you may have forgotten or become a little rusty about. Even though as an adult, you might be well beyond highschool, it is imperative that you study well for the SAT. 

Who Can Appear for SAT Exam

SAT is one of the most important requirements to attain good overseas education. This is why it becomes important to learn who can appear for the SAT exam. The common questions students and their parents have regarding the eligibility are that is SAT exam for commerce students? Can students from diverse academic backgrounds apply for SATs? 

An important thing to note is there is no fixed criteria for eligibility in SAT exams. You can appear for this exam at any age and with any minimum educational background. If you are a highschooler looking to pursue an undergraduate degree right after school, you may start preparing for SAT exams in the school years itself and appear for it right after your highschool finals. Opportunity of appearing for the SAT exam for commerce students is equally open as it is for the student from any other discipline. 

The New SAT Exam

In 2016, significant changes were made to the SAT examination format and pattern and it was thus converted to the New SAT exam. Though the basic eligibility and maxim of the exam remains same, a lot of other things like the subject names in SAT exam syllabus, SAT exam duration, and evaluation patterns are different for the new SAT exam.

While the old SAT exam syllabus included sections of critical reading, writing and mathematics, the new SAT contains sections of evidence-based readings and writing, and mathematics. There is an optional essay section as well in the new SAT examination. This section may help you improve your SAT scores. 

There has been a change pertaining to how long are SAT exams. The time length has changed from 3 hours and 45 minutes, to just 3 hours for applicants who are not registered for the essay section, and 3 hours 50 minutes for candidates who are appearing for the optional essay section. Apart from this, the evaluation system for the new SAT has also been changed and there are no negative marking for wrong answers in the new SAT exam. 

The SAT Exam Syllabus

The SAT exam syllabus since 2019, consists of three sections- evidence based reading and writing section, mathematics, and an optional essay section. 

1. Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section (EBRW)- 

This section of the SAT exam essentially evaluates your English language skills and makes up a score between 200 to 800. The section is further divided into a reading and a writing section, and the final score is determined by combining scores of both the sections 

1. Reading Section- Reading section of the SAT is about 65 minutes long and includes 52 multiple choice questions. These questions are essentially based on five distinct passages. All the questions are evidence-based in nature and require the test takers to analyze and interpret the provided information in the passages.  These passages may be presented as single, or paired with informational graphics such as images, charts, or tables.

These passages are drawn from World Literature, Social Studies, Science, and History, and you are required to answer the questions based on the passages. The questions asked in this section are generally categorized into 3 different types- factual, rhetoric, and synthesis questions. Factual questions are fact based and relate directly or indirectly to the main idea of the passage.

Rhetoric questions ask you to discuss the meaning, tone or style of the passage, whereas synthesis questions will ask you to draw a conclusion for the given passages, charts, or tables.


2. The Writing Section- The writing section of the SAT exam is 35 minutes long and comprises a total of 44 multiple choice questions based on four passages. The section draws a focus on your ability to analyze and edit the contents of a passage. This essentially means that the writing section will require you to correct grammar and make substantive changes into the passage.

You shall be asked to edit and replace the errors in sentences within a passage. You are also required to identify sentences that help to correct the misinterpreted graphical data, select the sentences that strengthen an argument, or add relevant supporting details. The passages that appear in this section are one of each- narrative, informative, explanatory and argumentative in nature.

The questions asked in this section are Standard English Convention questions where you are asked to correct grammatical errors and improve the language or structure of the passages.


2. Mathematics Section in SAT- 

This section evaluates your mathematical reasoning skills. You are graded on a score range of 200 to 800 points. The section is 80 minutes long containing 58 questions. 80% of the questions are multiple choice, while the remaining 20% are student-generated response questions also known as grid-ins. In grid-ins, the students are required to solve the problem and enter an answer by shading the appropriate numbers in the answer sheet.

The section can further be classified as a no-calculator, and calculator section. The no-calculator section contains 15 multiple choice questions and five grid-ins, and the calculator section contains 30 MCQs and a total of 8 grid-ins. You are provided with a set of formulas to use as a reference before the test starts. The SAT exam syllabus for mathematics section can be categorized into four key areas-

1. Heart of Algebra- Here you are required to create and solve algebraic equations such as linear and quadratic equations. 

2. Data Analysis and Problem Solving- In questions for this area, you are expected to solve questions using percentage, ratios, and interpret data for the provided graphs and tables. 

3. Passport to Advanced Mathematics- Here you will be expected to solve compounded mathematical equations and functions. 

4. Additional topics in Math- This area will generally include questions based on trigonometry, geometry, areas and volume. 

3. The Optional Essay Section 

The new SAT has an optional 50 minute essay section in the SAT exam syllabus. Even if it is optional, it is highly recommended that you take SAT exams with the essay as some schools demand the essay score while giving admissions. In the essay section, you will be provided with a paragraph and would be asked to analyze the effective build up of the author’s argument. The essay will require you to understand the techniques that are used by the author to write persuasive texts. You would be required to support your explanation with strong evidence from the passage. 

Please note that this section has been discontinued by The College Board since 2021. However, 

Also Read:- The Ultimate Guide For Writing An Essay 2022

The SAT Exam Duration

As mentioned above, the SAT exam duration timing is 3 hours for a pen and paper written test. The SAT exam durability ensures that you can take the SAT exam as many times as you wish. Usually SAT exams are conducted 5 times in a year at multiple SAT examination centers. 

How to Register

There is only one requirement for registration for SAT exams. The candidate must have an original and valid passport. Registering yourself for the SAT test is a super easy process and can be done online through The College Board website. However, there is an option of offline registrations available for special situations where candidates can apply by mail instead of filling the form online. 

Steps for Online Registration-

  1. Register online by creating a profile on the College Board website. 

  2. Create a corresponding student profile and fill in the SAT application form with thorough details.

  3. Once the form is filled, you are required to select the examination center and a suitable date for taking the test. 

  4. You are required to upload a passport size clear photograph of yourself on the application portal.

  5. You must then pay the required fee, and submit your application form.

  6. Take a print of your examination ticket that is generated after submission to carry it to the test center on the day of exam. 


Steps for Applying Via Mail-

This system of registration is usually only available in the following special conditions-

  1. When the candidate is 13 years old or younger than that age. 

  2. When the candidate wishes to apply for testing near their home.

  3. When the applicant is unable to provide a clear passport sized photo digitally

  4.  When the applicant chooses to pay the examination fee through money order or a cheque. 

How to apply-

  • Request a SAT student registration booklet from your admission counselor or the College Board. 

  • Fill in the application form as per the guidelines provided in the boolet.

  • Send the duly filled application form along with your passport sized photograph, and money order or cheque to the mailing address mentioned in the booklet. 

Fee Structure for the SAT Exam

Like every other competitive examination, the SAT exam also holds a registration fee that needs to be paid compulsorily. The SAT exam fee varies as per the country of residence of the applicant. The basic fee for SAT registration is $52 (INR 3977). The registration cost for the candidates who wish to appear for the SAT with an essay is nearly $106, and for those who wish to not appear for the essay, the registration fee totals to about $94. In Indian currency, the SAT exam fee ranges between INR 6300 to 7000.

The cancellation fee for the SAT exam is very problematic as you do not receive any refund if you cancel after five days before the exam. Even when the students receive a refund, it amounts to $10 only. Hence it makes much more sense to reschedule your exam date rather than completely canceling it.

If you wish to reschedule your SAT exam, you are required to pay an extra $30 charge for availing the service. Students are also required to pay a $30 fee if they are seeking to change their test centers. A late registration fee staggers up to $30, and registration by phone adds a $15 charge.

There is also a waitlist fee for the SAT exam which usually amounts to $53. 

How Do I Prepare for SAT Exam

Now that you have got a glimpse of SAT exam duration and syllabus, we have some tips for writing SAT exams that will help you prepare for each section easily.

1. Tips for EBRW section-

  • Read each passage thoroughly but do not read it more than once. You have to solve questions of five passages in about an hour, so reading passages more than once might leave you short on time. 

  1. Try to understand the passage and pay complete attention to each line of the passage. 

  2. Try to solve as many questions as you can but leave the difficult ones for later. 

  3. Solve the SAT exam old papers to understand your weaknesses and improve on them with rigorous practice.

  4. Learn to manage the time with regular solving of SAT exam old papers so that you don’t run short on time on the day of examination. 

  5. Since there is no negative marking in the new SAT exam, you will not lose any marks for selecting wrong answers in the exam. Even if you are not sure about the answers for a few questions, try to attempt those too. If by fluke you get the answers right, it will help you increase your overall score.

  6. Try to save some time spare at the end of each test section to recheck your answers. 


2. Tips for Math Section-

  1. Memorize the basic algebraic, geometric, and trigonometric formulas to solve a number of multiple choice as well as grid-in questions without wasting a lot of time on them. 

  2. Practice a lot of mental calculations as you will need to solve the questions from the no-calculator section of the SAT without wasting much time. 

  3. Solve multiple SAT exam old paper and identify your mistakes. Try to eliminate the mistakes as you go along practicing by solving the old SAT exam papers.

  4. Be precise with your calculations and recheck your answers before filling in the answers to grid-in questions. Try to solve more of allegation or mixture problems as they form a major portion of the mathematics section of the SAT exam syllabus. 


3. Tips for the Essay Section-

Even though the essay section has been discontinued by The College Board since 2021 in the exam, it is highly recommended that you practice this section as it will help you draft a good college admission essay and boost your chances of getting admission in your dream college or university. 

  1. Your essay must reflect your understanding of the topic and your ability to build your argument over another author's point of view. 

  2. Make sure to use appropriate style and persuasive techniques. 

  3. Support your claims with strong and well-chosen evidence.

  4. Remember who you are writing for. Maintain a connection between all your paragraphs and use the five paragraph approach of academic writing while constructing your essay.

  5. Read the essays from various SAT exam old paper and practice writing essays on the topics from these papers. 

  6. Pay a lot of attention to strengthening your English grammar and writing skills. 

  7. Build up on your vocabulary and try to use considerably good vocabulary in your essays. 


Your SAT exam will be scored between 400 to 1600. This will be the total score (inclusive of all sections) mentioned in your SAT score report. 

Your total SAT score is calculated by adding the scores from your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section, and Mathematics Section which are each scored out of 200 to 800. 

For calculating your total score, The College Board converts your raw scores from each section to scaled scores using a conversion chart that is unique to each SAT exam and is set according to the difficulty levels of the paper. 

On a difficult paper, students may miss a question or two and still score a perfect 800, while on an easier test, missing even one question can drop the scores to 790.  

What to Bring on the Test Day

You are required to carry only limited things to the test centers. 

  1. A printed copy of your admission ticket

  2. An original, government issued ID (passport or driving license)

  3. Two HB no. 2 pencils, a sharpener, and an eraser

  4. Emergency medicines and Epinephrine injections

  5. An approved simple calculator

  6. A backpack to carry these items

  7. Some snacks and water bottle

What to Expect on the Test Day

A day before the test, make sure that you are familiar with the following procedures and rules-


1. Covid 19 Precaution Procedures- 

Check your test center's website to know about safety procedures and mask mandates for the Covid 19 pandemic. Be prepared to show your vaccination certificates and answer the questions about your health status. If you are sick on the day of the exam, you can choose to stay at home. No cancellation fee or postponing charges would be levied on you for the same. 


2. Check the Test Center Status- 

Keep checking the website from a week before the test date to see if there are any changes to your assigned test center. 


3. Opening Time for the Centers- 

All the test centres open up at 7:45 am by default for the students. The entry closes at 8:00 am. You cannot be admitted once the gates are closed. If you are late on the day of the exam, you can reschedule it by paying some extra fee. Make sure that you carry all the necessary items to the test centre. 


4. Test Begins between 8:30 to 9:00 am- 

Your seats are assigned to you on the day of the exam. Once you are seated, here's what will happen- 

  1. The invigilator or proctor will read out the exam instructions verbatim from a manual.

  2. They will tell you when you're supposed to start or stop working on a section. 

  3. You must work on each section only within the time allocated for them. 

  4. Wait for the proctor to give you a heads up for proceeding to the next section if you are done with one section before time.

  5. Do not skip the sections as it may result in cancellation of your scores.

  6. Once the test is finished, the proctor will count the test booklets to ensure everyone has submitted their tests. Remain seated at your place till they dismiss you from the room. 


5. Breaks- 

There is mostly one 10 minutes and another 5 minutes break during the test. This is the only time that you are allowed to eat or drink between the tests. However, you cannot use your electronic devices during these breaks. All your belongings, except your ID proof should be left on the table while stepping out of the testing room for a break. 


6. Dismissal- 

The SAT exam will most likely finish by noon. You can expect to get a dismissal around 12:00 to 12:15 pm. 

It may seem like a lot to take in, but once you have understood the SAT exam durability, pattern, and process, you'll be able to ace the exam with ease. 

Expert Advices To Crack SAT

1. Use youtube, books,  or a qualified test prep tutor to help identify strategies that will ensure you don't fall into the traps the test sets for test-takers and can more easily help you navigate how to pace yourself through the test. 
Review specific and common content from each section and develop a strong understanding of all the rules and equations you may need. Khan Academy is a great resource for this.
Be mindful of silly mistakes that can be made in each section and learn the best ways to avoid them.
Ultimately, the most effective test prep process will be alongside an expert as they can help with each suggestion above. If you'd like any additional questions answers, please don't hesitate to ask! Please let me know the link at which your article can be found once published so we can highlight on our social media.

Rachel Horwitz, Manager of Scholastic Achievement - JBG Educational Group

2. Before formulating a study plan, it is crucial to decide when to take the test. Given the SAT and college application timeline, it is best to start preparing for the SAT exam 3-4 months before you plan to take the test. However, the best and earliest time to take your first SAT exam is during the fall, that is Sept-Oct of the eleventh class. The summer break before the eleventh class is the best time to prepare for your first SAT exam. Appearing for the test this early will enable you to retake the test during spring if you aim to achieve higher scores.

When it comes to formulating a study schedule, it depends on the student's general prep level and ability to grasp the study material. Students can choose between an intense study schedule that requires studying for at least 10 hours a week for two months or a gradual study schedule which refers to studying for a couple of hours a week for at least six months. A gradual study schedule seems ideal for students aiming for Ivy League Universities like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT, which are highly selective in their approach.

However, in such a case, the student should take the Preliminary SAT exam (PSAT) in the tenth class itself to see where they stand in terms of score and evaluate it to further course-correct and decide on the study pace. Students aiming for Top-tier and less selective universities that are not as competitive as the Ivy league can determine the course of action based on the SAT score range for their target university and work accordingly.

Roopali Birman, Head of Counselling - iSchoolConnect

3. It would be to look at the SAT as an opportunity and not an obligation. Yes, standardized tests require a significant amount of preparation and practice to attain a strong score, but it is still much more reasonable to improve an SAT score in a few months of practice than it is to boost your cumulative high school GPA in one or two semesters alone.

I can speak from experience, as someone who did not have the resources to pay for SAT tutoring in high school, to say that without my high SAT performance I would not have been accepted to the University of Southern California for my undergraduate education. Adjusting your attitude toward the SAT, or ACT for that matter, is the first step to turning standardized testing into an asset on your application!
Stefan Maisnier, Director of Online Tutoring - MyGuru

4. When appearing for the SAT exam, students need to remember these key tips:

a. Get plenty of rest the night before the test.

b. Arrive at the testing center early. This will allow you to relax and avoid stress.

c. Pace yourself throughout the test. Do not spend too much time on any one section.

d. Make sure to answer all of the questions. Do not leave any blank.

e. Check your work before moving on to the next section.

f. Be sure to budget your time wisely. You do not want to run out of time on the test!

g. Stay calm and relaxed throughout the test. Do not let the pressure get to you.

h. Most importantly, do not give up! You can do it!

How to prepare for it etc-

The best way to prepare for the SAT exam is by practicing as many questions as possible. The test is designed to measure critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, so it's important to familiarize yourself with the types of questions that will be asked. In addition, make sure you get a good night's sleep before the test so you're well-rested and can focus on the task at hand.

- Victoria Taylor, Founder/Teacher - Best Case Parenting

5. Take Practice Exams and Focus on Your Mistakes-

The only way you’re going to know how to study for the SAT is by taking a practice exam to see what areas you are falling behind in. From here, you can directly target your mistakes and create a study plan. Of course, this encompasses the different sections of the SAT, but it also includes other factors such as the time limit, comprehension, testing pressure, and careless errors. If you notice yourself making mistakes due to any of these factors, you’ll be aware of it after you take the practice exam and can take extra steps to make sure you are at your best when the real test comes your way.

- Doug Crawford, Founder- Best Trade Schools

6. Due to societal and economical reasons, the SAT exam will be delivered digitally starting in 2024. It will also be shorter - cutting out one hour of assessment. Lastly, students will also get their results back in a few days compared to several weeks. According to the College Board “the digital SAT will be ""easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant”.

In my opinion, standardized online testing is a great way to expand access to SAT testing (especially those from poor socioeconomic backgrounds). If the College Board can program a robust SAT app (and not have another AP Fiasco) - then the move from analog to digital exam is certainly one of the most promising ones in the history of the SAT."

Subsequently, it will be hard to give any solid recommendation on how to prepare, as the changes within the SAT landscape are yet to be seen.

Having said that, for those that will take the SAT in the next 1-2 years, here are my top tips:

a) Utilize resources:

Especially for reading and writing, there are tons of great resources you can use to improve your scores:

Here's my top collection:

This is really all you need to get a 1500+ score.

uWorld is great to improve math concepts, while Khan and 1600 are great options to improve critical reading and writing.

b) Take practice tests with real testing conditions

Every 7-14 days you should take a full-length practice test. Spread them out over several months leading up to the SAT.

Important: Time it, score it and really evaluate mistakes that you made. Try to see if there are certain patterns or particular areas that need improvement. Try to mark down what concepts (math) and what types of questions (english) need improvement. 

c) Stay motivated

Don't get discouraged when you get a couple of questions wrong on your practice tests. That's the whole point of the SAT. These tests are full of tiny, hidden traps. It's a minefield and you're the minesweeper that needs to find them. 

- Georgie Georgiev, Author/Founder -

7. The best way to prepare for the SAT depends on each student's individual strengths and weaknesses. A good starting point is to take a practice test and analyze your results in order to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

After that, you can focus on improving your skills in the areas where you need the most help. You can do this by studying regularly and taking practice quizzes and tests, as well as by working with a tutor or online course. Stay motivated and focused by setting goals for yourself and breaking them down into smaller steps that are achievable. And lastly, don't forget to relax and have some fun during your preparation process to be able to stick to the process. 

- Claire Westbrook, Founder - LSAT Prep Hero

Final Advice: How to Mastering the SAT

In the end, how you approach the SAT is up to you. The key takeaway from this guide is that it's a game, and with the right strategy, you can learn how to play it to your advantage. It's not a perfect system, but it does offer insights into who you are as a student and how you approach learning. Don't go into the SAT cold; let this guide get you warmed up with everything you need to know to ace the exam. Don't take my word for it—just look at the data instead.
We have special SAT tutors who have been teaching students to crack their SAT exams. You can ask help from them through assignment writing services, essay writing, test preparation. All they need is your subject and your preferred method of communication and they'll get back to you in a couple of hours with a completed paper.



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