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Important SAT News

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September 2020 Changes

  • You can retake individual sections of the test (on a computer).

  • You can take the test on a computer or on paper.

  • You can purchase a Superscore report.

SAT®

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SAT® Basics

Overview

First offered in 1926, the SAT was originally an adaptation of a military IQ test called Army Alpha. Now administered by the College Board, it has evolved to become perhaps the second-most important part of the college application process after high school GPA.

Most students take their first SAT in their junior year of high school, but we recommend beginning prep sometime sophomore year. Scroll down for a more detailed look at the SAT.

Length

3 hrs

plus 50 minutes if taking the optional Essay. Alternative arrangements are available if a student has qualified for extra time.

Cost

$46

$60 if taking SAT with Essay

Scores

1600

Highest Score

1060

Average Score

Sections

Reading
Writing & Language
Math (No Calculator)
Math (Calculator)
Writing (optional)

2019 - 2020 Dates

Upcoming SAT® dates are listed below. To register, visit College Board or call 866-756-7346. Students with learning differences should call 609-771-7137 for testing accommodations and requirements.

Registration

Test Day

Scores Release

July

31

August

29

September

22

August

26

September

26

October

9

September

4

October

3

October

16

October

7

November

7

November

20

November

5

December

5

December

18

February

12

March 13

5

April

20

April

8

May

8

May

27

May

6

June

5

June

24

Common Questions

How long is the SAT?

3 hours. If you choose to complete the Essay, the test will be 3 hours and 50 minutes.

SAT or ACT?

Find out which test is right for you.

Most universities will accept scores from either the SAT or ACT. Choosing the right test for you is an important first step in the preparation process. While we recommend taking a full-length diagnostic exam to compare the two, this breakdown will help you decide between the SAT and ACT.

SAT vs ACT

SAT

ACT

Format

Pen-and-paper in the US and internationally

Paper-and paper in the US. Computer-based internationally

Reading

65 minutes for 52 questions

35 minutes for 40 questions

Writing & Language/English

(No Calculator)

35 minutes for 44 questions

45 minutes for 75 questions

Math

(No Calculator)

25 minutes for 20 questions

Math

(Calculator)

55 minutes for 38 questions

60 minutes for 60 questions

Essay

(Optional) Essays are scored separately and don’t heavily factor into admissions decisions, so they should not factor into your testing decision.

50 minutes

40 minutes

Writing & Language/English

  • Tests knowledge of grammar rules and sentence structure, as well as the ability to edit passage and logically sequence information.
  • Includes ~2 questions related to information in a chart or graph.
  • Writing & Language Scale is VERY harsh for high-scoring students.
  • Rules and concepts tested are functionally identical to SAT.
  • Has 31 more questions than SAT Writing & Language, which allows for a less harsh scale.
  • No questions relating to charts or graphs.

Math

  • Less time restrictive, but less straightforward.
  • Requires a deeper conceptual knowledge of the foundations of Algebra.
  • Fewer questions on geometry & trigonometry (~6).
  • Has 13 “Grid-In” (no multiple choice) questions.
  • Calculator allowed on 38 of 58 questions.
  • Math Score Scale can be harsh for high-scoring students.
  • Faster paced, but more straightforward.
  • Contains more “difficult” Algebra II concepts (matrices, conic sections, logarithms).
  • More heavily tests geometry & trigonometry.
  • Calculator allowed on entire test.

Reading

  • Tests ability to determine main idea, draw inferences and find supporting evidence.
  • More time per passage, but passages use more sophisticated language and are more difficult to comprehend.
  • Has 14-18 “evidence pair” questions.
  • Contains either a U.S. Founding Document or passage in the Great Global Conversation, which are very hard to get through.
  • Tests ability to determine main ideas, draw inferences and locate details in the passage.
  • Extremely fast-paced, but requires a more cursory knowledge of the passage.

Science

Does not have a science section, but “Analysis in Science” skills are tested throughout all sections of the test.

  • Tests a student’s ability to read and analyze tables, graphs, diagrams and evaluate different scientific viewpoints.
  • 5-6 questions per test require outside scientific knowledge.

Scoring

  • The entire test (without essay) is scored out of 1600.
  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (ERW) Score: Raw scores from the Reading and Writing & Language tests are combined and given a scaled score out of 800.
  • Math Score: Raw scores from both Math tests are combined and given a scaled score out of 800.
  • Scoring scales from test to test are very unpredictable, which is maddening for students.
  • Each test (English, Math, Reading, Science) is given a score on a 36-point scale.
  • The composite score is the average of all four test scores and rounds up (ex. a composite of 31.5 will be displayed as a 32).
  • ACT scoring scales are much more predictable from test to test than SAT scoring scales.

Superscoring

More colleges and universities superscore the SAT than they do the ACT.

  • Many colleges and universities superscore the ACT, though less schools do so than they superscore the SAT.
  • In September 2020, students can purchase a Superscore report from the ACT.

Score Release

  • Scores (excluding the essay) are typically released 13 days after each test date.
  • The QAS (Question-and-Answer Service)—which allows students to review the entire test and identify the questions they answered correctly/incorrectly—is typically available for the October, March, and May tests.
  • The SAS (Student Answer Service)—which allows students to see their answers, but not the actual test—is available on all other test dates.
  • Both the QAS and SAS are available online at the same time scores are available.
  • Scores (excluding the essay) are typically released 10 days after each test date in the US.
  • Scores (excluding the essay) are typically released 2 days after each test date outside the US.
  • TIR (Test Information Release) is available for the December, April, and June test dates.
  • If students purchase the TIR, they will receive a physical copy of the test and a copy of their answers and the answer key in the mail a few weeks after the test date.
  • In the past, it has taken nearly two months to receive the TIR (making it rather ineffective). More recently, however, it has taken less than 3 weeks for students to receive it.

Accomodations

  • Accommodations are available for students who require them.
  • Students with accommodations receive their scores at the same time as students who do not have accommodations.
  • Accommodations are available for students who require them.
  • Students who receive accommodations typically have the ability to take the test on paper.
  • The ACT is a bit stricter when it comes to obtaining extra-time accommodations. For example, it requires a longer recorded history for students with diagnosed ADHD or other attention-deficit disorders.
  • Students with accommodations usually receive their scores later than students who do not have accommodations.

Scheduling

Offered the same day as SAT Subject Tests, which limits testing opportunities for students that want or need to take those tests in order to apply to top-tier U.S. colleges and universities.

ACT dates do not overlap with SAT Subject Test dates.

Study Resources

  • The SAT has officially released 12 full-length practice tests, 8 of which have been officially given to students.
  • 17 official tests can be found online.
  • The SAT Official Study Guide has 10 official exams.
  • The College Board has officially partnered with Khan Academy to provide free lessons and study resources for students.
  • The ACT has released 6-8 full-length practice tests.
  • Over 30 previously administered tests can be found online.
  • The ACT Official Guide has 5 official exams.

*Superscoring is when a college or university takes the highest section scores across all test dates to form a higher score than a student might have obtained on any single test date. Each school’s superscoring policy can be found on its admissions website.

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2019 - 2020
SAT Dates

Upcoming SAT® dates are listed below. To register, visit College Board or call 866-756-7346. Students with learning differences should call 609-771-7137 for testing accommodations and requirements.

Registration

Test Day

Scores Release

Jul

31

2020

Aug

29

2020

AAA

00

2020

Sep

4

2020

Oct

3

2020

AAA

00

2020

Oct

9

2020

Nov

7

2020*

AAA

00

2020

Nov

6

2020

Dec

5

2020

AAA

00

2020

*Date not available for International testing, only for US-based tests