What You Should Know About the SAT

If you are heading into the 11th or 12th grade this September, the time has come to start really focusing on the SAT.

The SAT is perhaps the most widely used college admission test in the United States and colleges use scores to determine not only academic placement,  but scholarships and merit based aid as well.

The goal of the SAT is to be a fair analysis of students across the country to level the playing field for college admission. The questions you see on the SAT have been researched and designed to make sure students from various backgrounds who have the same levels of preparation have the same change to succeed on the test.

The SAT Gets an Update

This past March, the College Board launched a redesigned SAT which is more focused on target areas and more useful. The new SAT reflects the work being covered in school and also measures the skills that students need to have in order to be ready not just for college, but for their future careers as well.


In terms of the verbal section, the SAT will now put more emphasis on words that are used more frequently in college and in the workplace instead of obscure vocabulary. You'll be more likely to see scientific, historic and literary terms used in context in order to determine comprehension skills.


The math section focuses on the math skills needed for college and life and only one section will permit calculator use.


The essay section will require you to read a selected passage and then write an analysis, discussing how the author of the passage built and supported his or her argument. You will be required to use text evidence to support your analysis. This type of essay writing is much more typical of the type of essays written in college and therefore better reflects your ability to prepare college level essays. 

The essay portion is optional, but some schools require it. Know ahead of time if you will be applying to those schools and be sure to prepare ahead of time to nail the essay portion.


The new SAT uses “right only” scoring. There is no penalty for guessing on the SAT and you will not receive negative points for providing a wrong answer.

The test will take three hours, with an extra fifty minutes added on if students sit for the essay.

There are two sections; the reading and the math and the score scale ranges from 400 to 1600. The essay is scored on its own and is not factored into the range of 400 to 1600. 

The best way to get ready for this upcoming test is to keep reading, keep writing and keep thinking! Practice makes perfect so start preparing for the SAT today! 

A good test-prep program can take your average SAT or ACT score to an above average one. Learn about Magoosh and their flexible test-prep programs.