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College SAT Basics
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The SAT itself is a three hour and forty-five minute exam that tests
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The SAT, or the SAT1 Reasoning Test, is one of the two main college admissions tests that students take in their junior or senior year of high school.The SAT itself is a three hour and forty-five minute exam that tests critical reading skills, math reasoning skills, and writing skills.
Most colleges do require that a student takes the SAT for admission. You want to check the college website to find out specifically the answer to that question, but most colleges do require the SAT.
The goal of the SAT is to provide a standardized measure of academic aptitude and assessment across a wide applicant pool. Because grades vary from school to school, an A in one school might be very different from an A in another school. Colleges are really looking for a standardized measurement of the applicants who are applying to their school.
The SAT subject tests, which are also known as the SAT-2s, are one hour exams that measure a student's academic achievement in a specific academic area. There's a wide variety of SAT-2s. There's SAT-2s in biology, chemistry and physics; in American history, world history and Korean. There's just a wide variety of SAT subject tests to take.
Most colleges don't require that a student takes the SAT subjects tests. Really, the colleges that do require the SAT twos are the more selective colleges. The Ivy League colleges, the UC schools, schools of really the top calibur in terms of admissions selectivity.
In addition to the 25-minute essay, there are 67 multiple choice critical reading questions on the SAT test. There are 54 multiple choice and student-produced response grid-in questions on the math side, and there's 49 multiple choice writing questions.
On each section of the SAT, you're given a score from 20 to 80. So combined, the lowest score you can get on the SAT would be a 60, and the highest score you can get on the SAT would be a 240. There are people who get the lowest scores, and there are people who get the highest scores. But most people fall somewhere in the middle.
On the SAT multiple choice questions, for each question you get right you get one point. For each question you leave blank, you get zero. For each question you get wrong, you lose a quarter of a point. In other words, if you get one question right, and then the next four questions wrong, you're basically at a zero. On the SAT grid-in questions, which are a subset of the math questions, there are no answer choices, so you only get credit for answering things correctly. You don't have that penalty for wrong answers. In other words, with the grid-in questions, everything you answer correctly, you get a point. If you answer it incorrectly, you get zero. Nothing happens. So there's no penalty for answering grid-in questions on SATs.
There's not such thing as a good score or a bad score. Each college has a range of SAT scores that they deem appropriate for college admissions. You'll want to check the colleges that you're interested in and see the range of scores of the student's who are admitted into the college. For more selective colleges, you're going to want to get a score certainly above 200 or 210. But, there are literally thousands of schools that don't require such astringent SAT scores. So, there is no such thing as a bad or good SAT score.
A main misconception a lot of students make is that the SAT is the most important part of the whole application process, that, that's really the first thing that the colleges are going to look at, and it's not. Grades and the difficulty of the course work that you've taken really is the first thing colleges are taking into consideration. Some kids also believe that the SAT is not a test you can study for, that preparing for it doesn't make any sense. Well, that's not true at all. The SAT is certainly a test that is very preparable, and you definitely want to do as much preparation for this test as you can. There are also certain myths and apocraful stories about the SAT. One of them is that certain tests are easier than others. That's not true at all. They do a very good job, statistically, of making sure that one test isn't any harder than another or, if by some chance, smarter people take the test that day, you won't be penalized for taking it with a smarter group of people. These really are standardized tests, and their reputation is based on the fact that a 60 on one test is equivalent to a 60 on another test given on another day.
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