SAT Test – Comprehensive Information

The SAT or Scholastic Assessment Test (previously, Scholastic Aptitude Test) is a standardized test for admissions in colleges in the United States of America. It is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and scored by the College Board-USA. The SAT plays a vital role in the admissions process of an applicant. A high score in SAT maximizes the chances for success in attaining a place in the top colleges of the US. Admissions officers use the SAT scores to make an informed and fair decision on an application. Together with the student's academic record, the SAT scores provide a reliable prediction of the applicant's success in academics.
The SAT is offered six times a year around the world and seven times in the United States. The SAT assesses the problem solving skills of the test taker on subjects learnt in high school. A high score in SAT is important to increase the chances of admission in US colleges and is necessary to receive a scholarship to cover the tuition and living expenses during the course of study. For international students, a high SAT score eases the visa process to some extent.

The SAT Test Pattern:

The SAT assesses subject matter learnt in high school in the areas of mathematics, critical reading and writing. The SAT test pattern consists of three major sections of critical reading, mathematics and writing. Each major section is further divided into three parts. There are three sections for critical reading, three for mathematics and three for writing. The total test takes 3 hours and 45 minutes. The first three sections of critical reading have 70 minutes allocated to them, the mathematics sections have to be completed within a total of 70 minutes and the writing section has to be done in 60 minutes. The SAT consists of ten sections. The last section is an additional variable section that may be any of the three major sections. The variable section points are not included in the final score. There is a penalty for wrong answers.  
The Critical Reading section of the SAT is made up of three sections with different types of questions ranging from sentence completions to short and long reading passages. Two of the three sections of critical reading are timed for 25 minutes each while one is timed at 20 minutes.
The Mathematics section of the SAT consists of three sections. There are two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section with a different type of question in each of the sections. While one of the 25-minute sections comprises entirely of 20 multiple choice questions, the other 25-minute section contains 8 multiple choice questions and 10 grid-in questions.  There is no penalty for the grid-in questions if answered incorrectly. The last section timed at 20 minutes has 16 multiple choice questions.
The Writing section of the SAT comprises of multiple choice questions and an essay and has a time limit of 60 minutes.

Style of Questions:

Almost all the questions on the SAT are multiple choice questions except for the essay and the grid-in math responses. The multiple-choice questions have five options out of which there is only one correct option. All questions carry the same number of points. However, there is a penalty for incorrect answers. If the test taker answers a question correctly, he will gain a point. If he or she answers incorrectly, one-fourth of a point will be deducted. There is no penalty for the mathematics grid-in questions in case they are answered incorrectly. Except for the essay, the scoring or grading is done by a computer.

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