What is the SAT

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What is the SAT

The SAT is an assessment designed by the College Board, a non-profit organization established in 1900 in the United States with the aim of facilitating students' access to college and possibilities for higher education transition. It was initially released in 1926. The SAT, initially implemented in the United States, has acquired global recognition as a prerequisite for higher education. It is now renowned not only in the United States but also in countries such as India, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, Australia, and numerous others. Around 5,000 organizations, including prestigious educational institutions worldwide, currently recognize and oversee the SAT.

Both students who want to pursue undergraduate studies abroad and international students who wish to attend Turkish universities take the SAT exam. It is designed to assess students' proficiency in applying the knowledge and skills they have acquired during their secondary education, as well as their critical thinking and analytical abilities, which are crucial for academic success. Additionally, the majority of students use the SAT exam to fulfill the admission criteria of universities in the United States. 

The SAT, which is recognized by roughly 5,000 universities across more than 85 countries worldwide, is conducted seven times a year in the United States and six times a year in other nations. Not only do the majority of universities in the United States and Canada accept the SAT, but many universities in Europe, Asia, and Australia also recognize it. Additionally, high scores on the SAT are necessary for students who wish to be considered for academic scholarships at the most esteemed universities worldwide, as these scores give them a competitive advantage over other students in the eyes of educational institutions.

Structure of the SAT

The SAT test is administered multiple times throughout the year, specifically in October, November, December, March, May, June, and August. It assesses students' proficiency in reading, writing, language, and mathematics.

The SAT is comprised of three tests: the reading test, the writing and language test, and the math test. Students are given a total of three hours to finish the test.



Number of Questions




Writing and Language









The majority of questions on the SAT are in the form of multiple-choice questions, while certain math topics may necessitate a written response. Every multiple-choice question consists of four options.

SAT Reading Test

The SAT Reading Test comprises five reading passages, each accompanied by a set of questions. The allotted time for completing this section of the test is 65 minutes, and it consists of a total of 52 questions.

The reading test comprises five passages, which include four separate readings and a pair of sections intended to be read together. The single passages and the pair of passages are composed of around 500 to 750 words apiece. The passage subjects are chosen from the following sorts of documents:

  • 1 literary passage taken from a work of fiction.
  • One or two passages from the original texts that established the United States of America, such as the United States Constitution, or a paragraph from the Great Global Conversation that was influenced by these foundational papers. In this context, the term "Great Global Conversation" pertains to a collection of intellectual contributions from various regions, focusing on topics such as freedom, justice, and human dignity. These contributions might include well-known pieces like a speech by Nelson Mandela.
  • One passage from a study in economics, psychology, sociology or other social sciences.
  • Two passages taken from scientific works that examine basic concepts and developments in fields such as earth science, biology, chemistry or physics.

Several questions on the SAT Reading Test necessitate test takers to comprehend and exhibit an author's utilization of proof to bolster a statement in a passage. These questions may require test takers to identify the specific section of the passage that provides evidence for a point made by the author, locate the most relevant evidence from the passage that supports the answer to a previous question, and determine the connection between an informational graphic and the passage it is paired with.

The majority of questions on the reading test require test takers to provide a contextual definition of a term. The term "contextual" is crucial in this case, as these questions require test takers to utilize contextual cues within the passage to comprehend the significance of a word or phrase. Conversely, other questions necessitate test takers to discern how the author's selection of words influences the meaning, tone, and intonation of the passage.

The SAT Reading Test has passages derived from historical, social sciences, and scientific disciplines. Test takers will be presented with questions that necessitate the application of essential reading abilities for achieving success in the disciplines encompassed by these categories. For instance, individuals taking the test are presented with a written piece regarding an experiment and thereafter instructed to analyze hypotheses, interpret results, and contemplate conditional relations and effects.

SAT Writing and Language Test

The Writing and Language Test, a component of the SAT, is a multiple-choice test that assesses test takers' ability to identify and rectify intentional errors, omissions, and deficiencies in provided passages. The Writing and Language Test comprises four texts and a total of 44 multiple-choice questions. Test takers are given 35 minutes to finish the test.

During this test, participants are presented with four passages, each containing around 400 to 450 words. The difficulty level of the passages is deliberately varied, with some being more demanding and others being easier. These passages can cover a range of subjects, such as careers, science, humanities, history, and social sciences.

The purpose and format of each passage given to test takers varies:

  • One of the passages is a narrative that presents events in a story-like fashion. The passage in question is not a literary piece, but rather a non-fictional description that could pertain to a historical event or depict the chronological progression of events in a scientific experiment.
  • Other passages may be composed in a more persuasive or more instructive and elucidating manner to persuade the reader of a particular viewpoint.

Some of the passages given to the test takers in this test may contain graphs, tables and charts that require the test takers to interpret them in conjunction with the passage. Each passage presented to the test takers consists of 11 multiple-choice questions. These questions can involve enhancing the articulation of ideas presented in the texts, as well as recognizing and rectifying problems in syntax, use, and punctuation. Another category of questions presented to examinees in the Writing and Language Test pertains to the articulation of concepts. These questions necessitate test takers to enhance the content and caliber of the author's communication in the passage and may be categorized into three distinct groups:

  • Development questions pertain to the primary concepts, such as topic statements and thesis statements, and are supported by specific details and precise quantitative facts presented in the form of tables, graphs, diagrams, or charts.
  • Organization questions are to the systematic arrangement and ordering of information and ideas, together with the skillful presentation of introductions, conclusions, and transitions.
  • Effective Language Use questions involve enhancing the clarity of a given passage, eliminating redundant and awkward words, taking into account the tone and intonation, and merging fragmented sentences to enhance the fluency of the passage and achieve a rhetorical impact.

Another category of questions presented to test takers in the Writing and Language Test is the standard English rules questions. The exam takers are required to detect and rectify grammatical and usage problems in the provided paragraphs. These questions necessitate that test takers discern and rectify flaws in sentence structure (such as run-on or unfinished phrases), language usage (such as subject-predicate or pronoun-pronoun mismatches), and punctuation (such as missing or superfluous commas).

SAT Math Test

The Mathematics Test administered to test takers as a component of the SAT concentrates on the mathematical subjects that have the most significant impact on higher education and professional achievement. The categorization of these subjects is as follows:

  • Heart of Algebra
    • Focuses on first-order equations and systems.
  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis
    • As the name suggests, it focuses on having knowledge on quantitative issues.
  • Passport to Advanced Math
    • Focuses on questions that require the manipulation and management of complex equations.

The Math Test encompasses supplementary subjects in mathematics, such as geometry and trigonometry, to ensure preparedness for college and professional pursuits. The SAT Math Test is divided into two sections: one that prohibits the use of calculators and one that allows calculator usage. Although most of the questions in both sections of the test are in the form of multiple-choice questions, there are a few questions towards the end of the test that necessitate test takers to furnish a written response. The components of the Mathematics Test can be succinctly outlined as follows:

No Calculator Section


25 Minutes

Total Number of Questions


Number of Multiple-Choice Questions


Number of questions that require written answers


Calculator Section


55 Minutes

Total Number of Questions


Number of Multiple-Choice Questions


Number of questions that require written answers


The Mathematics Test is organized into four distinct categories, with algebra being the most significant among them.


19 Questions

Problem Solving and Data Analysis

17 Questions

Advanced Mathematics

16 Questions

Additional Subjects

6 Questions


The SAT test takers' scores range from 400 to 1600 points. The total score is the sum of the scores from the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math parts that comprise the test. Each of these test components has a potential score ranging from 200 to 800. The combined results of the Reading Test and the Writing and Language Test, with each test carrying equal weight in determining the section score, determine the score for the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section of the test. The Mathematics component solely comprises the Mathematics Test.

The number of questions that test takers correctly answered in each section's raw score determines the section scores. The unadjusted value is subsequently transformed into a standardized score, which falls within the range of 200 to 800. This technique verifies that the many versions of the SAT test administered to examinees can vary in terms of difficulty. As an illustration, the Math Test consistently comprises 58 questions. Depending on the version of the test, a raw score of 57 may correspond to a scaled score of 800. However, in certain versions, test takers must answer all 58 questions correctly in order to achieve this scaled number.

Test scores range from 10 to 40. Test scores are determined by translating the raw score, which represents the number of properly answered questions, into a score ranging from 10 to 40. As previously stated, this scoring methodology takes into consideration the variations in difficulty levels among the many versions of the examination. To generate the score for the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing part, the Reading Test and Writing and Language Test scores are multiplied by 10 and then put together. The score for the Math part is calculated by multiplying the Math Test score by 20.

The SAT consists of seven sub-scores, with each sub-score representing a potential score between 1 and 15. The precise quantity of questions that contribute to each sub-score on an exam varies. As an illustration, there are a total of 19 questions related to algebra and 16 questions that pertain to advanced mathematics. Consequently, the raw scores for each sub-score are transformed into a numerical range of 1 to 15 in order to make them comparable.

Cross test scores are derived by aggregating results from many tests selected among the three components that constitute the SAT. There are two distinct cross-test scores available: History/Social Science Analysis and Science Analysis. Each score comprises 21 questions on the Reading Test, 6 questions on the Writing and Language Test, and 8 questions on the Math Test, resulting in a total of 35 questions on the SAT that contribute to each of these scores. The initial score for each exam, which falls between 1 and 35, is transformed into a standardized score, which falls between 10 and 40.

An acceptable SAT score is the number that will facilitate test takers in securing admission to their desired university. The mean SAT score in 2019 was 1050, and any score beyond this threshold would be considered above average and widely accepted by numerous universities. A test taker who scores 1350 would rank in the top decile of test takers, enhancing the competitiveness of their application at elite colleges.

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