Everything You Need to Know About the SAT | Edukasyon.ph
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Everything You Need to Know About the SAT

About the SAT and SAT Preparation

The SAT is a standardized test that assesses verbal and mathematical ability in potential college applicants. Students usually take the test in their junior and/or senior year of high school, on any of seven annual testing dates and at hundreds of testing centers around the United States, the Philippines, and all over the world. The SAT has been a work-in-progress since its inception in 1926 and has been subjected to many revisions that reflect contemporary trends in educational thought. The 2016 version includes two required sections (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Math), along with an optional Essay section. One of the most important new features of the 2016 SAT is expanded scoring. Students receive composite scores of 400 to 1600, built from the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math section scores of 200 to 800. Test-takers are also given scores for individual tests within the sections, in addition to subscores on particular verbal and mathematical skills. Cross-test scores reflect student performance on certain analytical abilities that are evaluated in both required sections. Essays are scored separately by two independent readers, and these essay scores do not affect any other scoring area.

The 2016 SAT is, largely speaking, a judgment of verbal skills and of mathematical ability, but it is important for students to understand how the test is structured. The macro-level structural scheme of the SAT includes what the College Board refers to as “sections” and “tests.” As noted above, the SAT is divided into two large sections that are called “Evidence-Based Reading and Writing” and “Math.” There are three total tests within these sections: Reading (for which students are given 65 minutes), Writing and Language (35 minutes), and Math (80 minutes). The Reading and Writing and Language tests together comprise the score on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing portion, and the Math section score is drawn exclusively from the actual Math test. The essay test is optional and scored separately, on a 2-8 point scale in each of three areas: Reading, Analysis, and Writing. Students are given 50 minutes to complete the essay. The best way to familiarize yourself with the exam is to take a free SAT practice test on the Manhattan Review website.

SAT Reading

The SAT Reading Test has a total of 52 questions, for which students are given 65 minutes. The 52 questions are taken from four individual reading passages and one pair of passages, each of which are between 500 and 750 words and can range from 9th grade to basic undergraduate in terms of difficulty. History/Social Studies and Science are each the subject of two passages, while Literature is covered by one passage, with 10-11 questions per passage. The Reading Test is one of two major elements of the overall Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score. Some Reading Test questions also factor into two of the SAT’s seven subscores (Command of Evidence and Words in Context) and either of the two cross-test scores (Analysis in History/Social Studies and Analysis in Science). Not all Reading Test questions count toward subscores, but many of them are a factor of one or even two subscores, which range from 1-15 in each area. 42 of the 52 Reading Test questions count toward the overall cross-test scores of 10 to 40, with 21 questions for each.

SAT Writing

The Writing and Language Test is 44 questions in 35 minutes. All Writing and Language Test questions are multiple choice, and each question includes four possible answers. Boxed numbers that appear in the passages indicate the correlated questions, and answer choices for these questions differ in their degree of plausibility. Test-takers should expect to encounter many choices that are highly similar to one another (for example, three possible answers that differ only in the placement of the comma). Most questions include an option to leave the word, phrase, or reading excerpt unchanged. Some questions ask whether or not a certain sentence should be deleted due to factors such as repetition of ideas or the muddling of a main point. Other questions ask about the most logical placement of additional supporting information or which particular wording of an idea is most effective. Students will also find questions that require them to combine sentences in the most effective manner, merge passages with final restatements of primary claims, provide more supporting evidence, and conform to certain stylistic patterns in terms of sentence structure or rhetorical technique.

SAT Math

The 2016 SAT Math Test contains four areas of focus: Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Passport to Advanced Math, and Additional Topics in Math. Heart of Algebra questions ask students to create and solve equations, while Problem Solving and Data Analysis tests students’ proportional reasoning abilities with problems from science, social science, and career contexts. Passport to Advanced Math consists of the complex equations and functions needed for college-level study in the “hard” sciences, and Additional Topics in Math include complex numbers, trigonometry, and geometry.

Students are given a total of 80 minutes to complete the SAT Math Test. All questions are either multiple choice or gridded response, in which test-takers write in numerical answers and fill in the corresponding boxes. The test includes 58 total questions divided in to calculator and no-calculator segments. The calculator segment is 55 minutes and 38 questions, while the no-calculator segment is 25 minutes and 20 questions. In addition to the overall Math Section (200 to 800) and Math Test scores (10 to 40), students receive subscores for Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Passport to Advanced Math (1 to 15). Cross-test scores for Analysis in History/Social Studies and Analysis in Science (10 to 40) are partially derived from selected Math Test questions. Additional Topics in Math questions count only toward the overall Math Test and Math Section scores.

SAT Writing

The essay prompt for the 2016 SAT asks students to analyze a text that is between 650 and 750 words in total length. All essay reading passages are argumentative, intended for general readerships, and taken from historical or contemporary sources. Student essays must consider author use of evidence to support claims, reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims, and stylistic and persuasive elements such as word choice or appeals to emotion. In their essays, students should analyze the argument advanced in the reading passage rather than write about their own views on the subject. The consistent nature of the essay prompt means that test-takers will know the basic essay task in advance, although they will not know the particular reading passage ahead of time. This change can be seen as an attempt to more closely align the SAT essay with the types of essays that are written on college exams.

SAT Administration

The majority of students take the SAT in either their junior or senior year of high school, with many students taking the test in both years in an effort to increase scores. Juniors generally take the exam in the spring semester, while seniors take it in the fall semester. Most students improve their scores on subsequent test attempts, highlighting the importance of practice and test preparation. Independent research has, in fact, shown that SAT prep classes and/or private tutoring can significantly enhance performance. SAT prep services help students learn test-taking techniques, strategies, and time management skills. SAT prep also provides guided practice and a higher level of knowledge of test questions and methods of assessment. These services give students confidence in their abilities, which furthers their benefits.

SAT Scoring

The 2016 SAT resumes usage of the 1600-point system in place prior to March 2005. This replaces the 2400-point scale, which was based on 800-point sections for writing, critical reading, and mathematics. Correlation between the old scoring format and the new is possible using percentiles of all test-takers. The 48th percentile in 2006 was 1500 out of 2400, which matches 1010 on the 1600-point scale. Scores of 1900 and 1280 reflected the 88th percentile in the 2400-point scoring system and 1600-point scoring system respectively. The 99th percentile was 2200/2400 and 1480/1600. There has been some fluctuation over time in student performance on the SAT, both overall and with respect to the individual sections. The class of 2015 averaged 495 on critical reading, 511 on mathematics, and 484 on writing, which is slightly below the 2006 averages. For the most part, scores have remained within narrow ranges for the past 40 years, though with yearly mean scores between 495 and 509 for verbal and 492-519 for math, this is more accurate for the former than the latter.

SAT History

The SAT, which has at various times been referred to as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, Scholastic Assessment Test, and SAT Reasoning Test, was created in an effort to standardize college admissions procedures and increase access to higher education. In the later 19th century, it was common for individual universities to have their own admissions tests or to grant acceptances to students without testing through certification of specific high schools. Higher education at this time was largely a privilege of the upper classes, with only about 1 in 25 high school graduates going on to college.

At the turn of the 20th century, college presidents from 12 universities founded the College Entrance Examination Board, which is now known simply as the College Board. These original member institutions were mostly elite universities in the northeastern United States, such as Cornell, Columbia, and New York University. The organization developed a standardized admissions exam referred to colloquially as the “College Boards,” which was administered for the first time in 1901. This test consisted of essay questions on subjects such as Greek, Latin, and physics, and it took five days to complete. Advance knowledge of the specific subject matter tested on each administration was available to students who paid a fee to the College Board for this service.


The ACT (American College Testing) is the other major undergraduate admissions test and the SAT’s main competitor. First administered in 1959, the ACT is now taken by more students than the SAT. Competition has been good for both tests, as revisions to one have frequently been incorporated into the other (such as the ACT’s introduction of a writing assessment in 2005 and the SAT’s adoption of enhanced scoring in 2016). However, there are still substantial differences between the SAT and the ACT. Vocabulary is more intensely evaluated on the SAT, but the ACT tests more advanced mathematical concepts. The ACT, unlike the SAT, includes a dedicated science section, though it is organized more around reasoning skills than scientific knowledge. The ACT also has a different organization than the SAT, and for college admissions officers the focus is often on the overall ACT score and the sectional SAT scores. Universities that require a standardized test for admission will accept either the SAT or the ACT, but the SAT is likely to be a better choice for many types of students. The advantages of the SAT include a higher average amount of time per question and an emphasis on critical thinking rather than memorized content. The main disadvantage of the SAT in comparison with the ACT is the fact that the former has been subjected to far more revisions than the latter. This situation makes up-to-date preparation all the more essential for students choosing to take the SAT.


Though the PSAT has a good deal of relevance to SAT preparation, there are several distinctions between the two tests. The PSAT, frankly, is less difficult, and this is at least partially intentional. Verbal exercises closely mirror the SAT, but the math is deliberately easier. Student scores on all sections of the PSAT tend to be slightly higher than the analogous portions of the SAT, which suggests an overall discrepancy in difficulty level. The PSAT, unlike the SAT, is largely irrelevant to college admissions for all students except those who win one of the approximately 8,000 annual National Merit Scholarships. The PSAT is also a shorter test, which raises the issue of endurance as a factor in student performance on the SAT. For an in-depth comparison of SAT and PSAT, please look here.

Test Centers in the Philippines

Luckily, there are a handful of places to take the SAT in the Philippines. As of the time of this posting, the following institutions facilitate SAT testing: Brent International School Baguio (Baguio City), Brent International School Manila (Laguna), Cebu International School (Cebu City), MIT International School (Muntinlupa City), Multiple Intelligence International School (Quezon City), Saint Theresa’s College (Cebu City), and The British School Manila (Taguig Metro Manila). Each of these institutions are accessible and easy to contact online.

SAT Strategy

Independent experts generally agree that SAT prep courses and private tutoring are the most effective available options, primarily because they offer interaction with an experienced teacher. This viewpoint is supported by independent research. Some studies have shown average score increases of nearly 30 points per section for students who received professional SAT instruction, and these score gains can substantially improve a student’s chances of acceptance to their preferred institutions. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a 690 SAT Math score recently correlated to an acceptance rate of only 3%, but a 30-point increase to 720 more than doubled the chances of acceptance to 7%. 30 points can also be the difference between a student’s section scores falling in the lower half of score ranges and the upper half. At Columbia University, 49% of accepted students received SAT Math scores of 750 or below. An SAT Math score increase of 730 to 760, for example, would move a student into the upper range of admitted applicants.To find out about the SAT preparation options with Manhattan Review in the Philippines, please check out this website or directly fill out this form to receive further information.

About Manhattan Review:
Manhattan Review is an international test prep firm that mainly offers preparation for admissions tests needed to apply to US-based universities and schools, including the SAT, GMAT, LSAT, SAT, ACT, SSAT, ISEE, and TOEFL. Founded in 1999 by Dr. Joern Meissner, an internationally renowned business school professor, the company helps students gain entrance to their desired degree programs by working to improve their admission test scores. Headquartered in New York City, Manhattan Review offers SAT Prep in the Philippines and many cities in Southeast Asia, including Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta, Hyderabad, and Hong Kong. Please also check out our official website for Manhattan Review India.