Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions you will ever make as a student. However, choosing a college abroad is a whole new level of decision-making.
If you’re planning to take your studies further (and farther) in a foreign country, specifically in the United States (US), one of the buzzwords you should be well familiar with is the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT). Not only is SAT a part of your school application requirements, but it also determines the school options you will have abroad.
Here’s a quick guide on all-things SAT you should know and remember when you start looking into your prospect schools in the US:
What is the Scholastic Assessment Test?
The Scholastic Assessment Test, or simply SAT, is a paper-pencil standardized test administered by the College Board since 1926. SAT is a widely-used examination for incoming college freshmen applying to colleges and universities in the United States. Last 2018, it set a record-breaking number of two million students who took the test.
Since the exam intends to assess the students’ readiness for college, an SAT score is highly important because of its implication on a student’s academic performance. With an ever competitive college admissions process, school officers will take into account SAT scores as they review students’ profiles alongside their high school records.
If that were the case, scoring higher in the SAT means more opportunities for students to choose the school they want and the available scholarships they can get.
How long is the SAT?
The time duration depends on the exam you will take. An SAT without the essay takes three hours, while those with the essay take three hours and fifty minutes to finish.
What is the coverage of the SAT?
The SAT is intended to measure the students’ literacy, numeracy, and writing skills. It is comprised of four sections: Reading Test, Writing and Language Test, Mathematics Test (without a calculator), and Mathematics Test (with a calculator). Students can also choose to include an optional essay as a fifth section in the test.
The reading test includes 52 multiple-choice questions for 65 minutes. In this subtest, there will be around 10-11 questions allocated for every reading passage. This may include informational graphics in support of the texts such as tables, graphs, and charts.
These are the topics covered in the reading passages:
- 1 classic or contemporary work on US or world literature
- 1 US founding document or related text (e.g. Nelson Mandela’s speech)
- 1 passage on economics, psychology, sociology, or social sciences
- 2 passage on Earth science, biology, chemistry, or physics
Writing And Language Test
The writing and language test includes 44 multiple-choice questions for 35 minutes. This subtest will still include reading passages, but exam takers are expected to choose answers that will change, improve, or fix words or sentences to make it more grammatically correct.
Here are some things to expect in the writing and language subtest:
- Checking verb tenses
- Checking subject-verb agreement
- Checking parallel construction
- Finding writing mistakes/weakness
- Improving topic analysis
- Improving word choice
- Using proper comma
The mathematics test includes 58 questions for 80 minutes. 45 of these questions are multiple-choice, while the remaining 13 items are grid-in which means exam takers have free response to input their own answers in the box provided.
This subtest is also divided into two sections which is a math test with a calculator, and another without a calculator. More time will be given to the part using a calculator since it has almost twice the number of questions than the former.
When reviewing your math skills, here are topics you can brush up on:
- Algebra (Linear equations and systems)
- Problem-solving and data analysis
- Advanced math
The essay section in the SAT will test your reading, analysis, and writing skills. With just 50 minutes allotted time, you should be able to explain how the author builds up his/her argument to persuade the audience using only evidence from the given reading passage. A well-written SAT essay is careful not to take a personal side on the argument (common student mistake!!), but rather expounds on the author’s thought process.
How is the SAT scored?
All questions in the SAT are weighed equally. This means no test section is “more important” than the other, and each hard-earned correct answer gives you one raw point in the exam. The SAT also incurs no deduction for every incorrect answer you might have. (Hey, that’s good news!)
It’s important to remember that there’s no such thing as a passing score in the SATs. While that can offer some sort of relief for exam takers who feel pressured to meet the passing rate, it also poses a greater challenge to score higher since score reports are given in mean scores, percentiles, and benchmarks which are relative in nature.
For each test section, exam takers can have a raw score between the 200-800 point scale, with the total score ranging between 400-1600. The highest possible SAT score is 1600, while the average runs around the 1060 point mark. Your target score is wholly dependent on your prospect schools! For example, Ivy League schools like Harvard University and Yale University require a 1590 SAT score to qualify for their 75th percentile applicants. You can do that, right?
If you took the essay section, you can expect a different score for it since the essay evaluation is graded differently.
When can I get my SAT score?
The test results are released approximately three weeks after the exam date. The mailed, paper scores take longer with around six weeks processing time.
How much does it cost to take the SAT?
As of 2018, the SAT costs $47.50 ($64.50 with the optional essay). While it can be really costly to take the exam, the College Board waives exam fees for low-income applicants who meet the set qualifications.
On the other hand, there are additional fees you must pay if you take the SAT outside US (that’s you!), as well as fees incurred when you request additional services related to your application (e.g. late registration, waitlist fee) and exam results (e.g. rush order, archived scores order).
Am I eligible to take the SAT?
While the SAT is primarily intended for high school students, everyone is welcome to take the test since there is no eligibility criteria or prerequisite for the SAT.
How do I apply for the SAT?
You can either apply for the SAT online or by mail. The College Board highly encourages everyone to apply online through their website, unless you meet the following criteria for the mail application:
- Requesting testing close to home
- Requesting Sunday testing (for the first time)
- Paying by check or money order
- Younger than 13 years old
- Unable to upload a digital photo as part of online application
- Registering through an SAT International Representative
If you fall under any of those qualifications, you can apply for SAT through mail.
Where can I take the SAT in the Philippines?
The SAT is conducted multiple times in a year—seven times in the US, and at least five times globally. That gives you more chances to take and re-take the test within a year! Did you know there’s no limit to the number of times you can take the SAT? Yup!
SAT Testing Centers vary per country. Based on the College Board’s official website, there are around 13 testing sites in the Philippines where you can take the SAT. While the list varies per exam schedule, here are more or less the testing sites you can check out for your upcoming SAT:
- Australian International School
- Beacon Academy
- Brent International School Baguio
- Brent International School Manila
- Brent International School Subic
- Cebu International School
- Faith Academy Incorporated
- MIT International School
- Multiple Intelligence International School
- Reedley International School
- St. Carmen Salles School Incorporated
- St. Theresa’s College
- The British School Manila
Next SAT schedules are on May 4, 2019, and June 1, 2019, which both fall on a Saturday.
How do I review for the SAT?
There is no one way to review for the SAT, but there are sure ways you can do to improve your chances of getting the 1600 mark! Aside from familiarizing yourself with the exam and answering free SAT practice questions, you can also bank on good ‘ol study hacks that helped you pass your quarterly exams in schools. We can help ya out with that! (read: we have a whole article to help you review for the SAT. you can thank us later!)
Studying abroad is a great opportunity you ought NOT to miss. And taking the SAT is one way you can make that happen! Before you apply to your dream school in the US or other parts of the globe, let this exam guide help you prepare for the SAT from Day 1. We’re pretty sure you’re gonna nail it, genius!