As society is developing, sending children to study abroad is becoming more common. For students intending to study in the US, SAT certificate is one of the compulsory standardized tests for universities enrollment. Let’s find out about the SAT and its essential information.

See also: Should you take SAT or ACT when studying in the US?

1. What is SAT?

SAT is a standardized test widely used for college admissions in the American education system. SAT is an international certificate recognized by many universities and colleges in the US to assess students’ science – social knowledge and logical thinking ability. It also proves the readiness of future university students.

SAT is administered 7 times a year (with 1 to 2 months of interval), which are March, May, June, August, October, November and December.

Previously, College Board held 2 SAT tests, SAT I (SAT General Test) and SAT II (SAT Subject Test). SAT II is an exam that assesses knowledge in a specific field. Depending on your intended major, you are required to take an exam of a specific subject such as Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, US History, World History…

However, from 2021, SAT II has been suspended, SAT exam mentioned below is SAT I exam.

1.1. Structure of the SAT exam

The structure of the SAT exam consists of 3 sections: Reading, Writing & Language, and Mathematics with a duration of 3 hours.

    • Reading section consists of 52 questions with a duration of 65 minutes, including passages of US or world literature, speeches or articles in the fields of natural sciences, social sciences, economics, mentality…
    • Writing and Language section has 44 question in 35 minutes. Its main tasks are to read the text, find mistakes and correct it. The questions’ topics belong to various fields such as history, science and social sciences, vocational…
    • Math section includes 58 questions in 80 minutes, in which the part without calculator has 20 questions in 25 minutes, while the part the allows calculator includes 38 questions in 55 minutes. The topics of the this section are Algebra and Functions, Data Analysis, Statistics and Probability, Number and Operations. You may also come across some questions about Geometry and Measurements.

SAT used to have an Essay section. This is an optional test which is not included in the SAT score, but many universities still require candidates to take the test. However, from 2021, College Board has officially suspended this Essay section.

1.2. SAT score scale

SAT score ranges from 400 to 1600. Each section of Reading and Writing & Language has a maximum score of 400, while Math section’s maximum score is 800.

During the SAT exam, candidates receive points for correct answers and no penalties for incorrect or blank answers. College Board’s system will scan the candidate’s answer paper and perform raw grading. The raw score is the total score of the correct answers, which will later be converted to the scale score of 200 – 800. After the conversion is done, you will have the final score.

Online score will be available 1 to 2 weeks since the test date (most commonly 13 days) and can be found. Paper transcripts will be available 6-8 weeks after the test. Once the test scores are available, College Board will send the score to the universities that students plan to enroll in (free sending for up to 4 schools).

1.3. How long is SAT score valid?

SAT certificate is valid for 5 years. This is a long duration that you can comfortably do the admission procedures as well as be better prepared for university environment.

1.4. The importance and benefits of the SAT

    • Opportunities to study at universities: Good SAT score is considered golden ticket to help you enter your dream university. All universities in the US take SAT as an entry requirement. In addition, SAT is also accepted in many countries such as Canada, Australia…
    • Increase the chances of getting a scholarship: SAT can help determine which students are ready for college. The higher the score, the better the student’s analytical and problem-solving skills are. Not only will this impress the admissions committee, but it will also greatly improve your chances of getting a  scholarship.
    • Enhance logical thinking: Unlike the ACT certificate, which relies heavily on subject knowledge, SAT is more about reasoning ability. With SAT questions, if you don’t initially know the answer, you can still analyze by analogy with impossible answers and find the right result. Therefore, the structure and questions of the SAT test are very beneficial in developing students’ thinking and reasoning ability.



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