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SAT is the acronym for Scholastic Aptitude Test, which is conducted by College Board (an association of schools and colleges in U.S.A). ETS (Educational Testing Service) administers the test for College Board for the students seeking admission to the undergraduate courses in U.S.A. About two million students in a year take the SAT to apply to various colleges, which helps in forecasting a student's freshman grades in college. This helps the colleges in making appropriate decisions about any student's ability to succeed academically. The SAT test score is also used as the basis for awarding merit-based financial aid.

About the test:

SAT has two versions: SAT-I and SAT-II.

SAT-I, which is a Paper-based test (PBT), is of three-hour duration and it tests the verbal and mathematical reasoning skills of the students. It is scored on a scale of 200-800 and is mostly taken by high school juniors and seniors. As per College Board, "A candidate can take the test up to seven times a year to improve upon his/her previous scores."

SAT-II is a subject test, which is of one hour duration and consists of mostly multiple choice questions. This is basically designed to test the subject knowledge that the student possesses and also tests how good they are at applying it. There are five general subject areas: English, Math, History, Science, Languages (which also includes ELPT). A college may require one or more of the subject tests for admission and placement. (For SAT-II subject list of subjects covered - click here for SAT Test dates)

SAT-I Test details:

The following test details of SAT-I are in accordance with those mentioned in College Board website. The SAT-I contains seven sections - 3 each on verbal and math with a total of six types of questions and one surprise section which is not accounted for.

Section No. Area No. of Questions Time Allowed contents
Section - 1 Verbal 30 30 min. Sentence Completion - 9 Questions
Analogies - 6 Questions
Critical Reading - 15 Questions
Section - 2 Math 25 30 min. Standard Multiple Choice - 25 Questions
Section - 3 Verbal 30 30 min. Sentence Completion - 10 Questions
Analogies - 13 Questions
Critical Reading - 12 Questions
Section - 4 Math 25 30 min. Quantitative Comparison - 15 Questions
Student Produced Responses (Grid-Ins) - 10 Questions
Section - 3 Verbal 13 15 min. Critical Reading - 13 Questions
Section - 4 Math 10 15 min. Standard Multiple Choice - 10 questions

Note: As per College Board "An actual SAT-I takes 3 hours because there is a fifth 30-minute section, known as "experimental" section, which can be math or verbal, identical to one of the other four 30-minute sections. This section, which permits the test-makers to try out new questions, does not count in the overall score, but because there is no way to know which of the five 30-minute sections is experimental, the candidate must do his/her best on every section. Also, the section can appear in any order, except that the two 15-minute sections always appear towards the end. Test takers sitting next to each other in the same testing sessions may have test books with entirely different sections.

The SAT Scoring System:

I. Total Score: Each of verbal and math sections are measured over a score of 200 to 800 total marks are 1600, out of which minimum 1100 should be obtained to ensure admission in to top universities.
II. Negative Marking: For the multiple-choice questions, if a question containing 5 choices is marked incorrectly, then one-fourth of a mark is deducted. If a question containing 4 choices is marked incorrectly, then one-third of a mark is deducted.
III. There is no negative marking for Grid-ins.
IV. No points are added or subtracted for unanswered questions.
V. Any score in fraction is rounded off to the nearest whole number.

Syllabus for Verbal and Math Sections: click here for SAT dates

Following are the details about the topics covered and the test areas for verbal and math section.


1.Analogies19 Questions
2.Sentence Completion19 Questions
3.Critical Reading40 Questions
 Total78 Questions in 75 min.


1.Standard Multiple-Choice Questions (5 Choices)35 Questions
2.Quantitative Comparisons (4 Choices)15 Questions
3.Student-produced responses (Grid-ins)10 Questions
 Total60 Questions in 75 min.

Math in detail:

These sections of the SAT contain questions that require understanding of the following mathematical concepts:

Arithmetic: Applications Involving Computation, Data Interpretation (including Mean, Median, Mode), Percent, Prime Numbers, Odd and Even Numbers, Ratio and Proportion, Divisibility, Average.

Algebra: Factoring, Linear equations and inequalities, Positive integer exponents, Sequences, Quadratic equations, Algebra word problems, Simplifying algebraic expressions, Substitution.

Geometry: Area and perimeter of a polygon, Area and Circumference of a circle, Volume of a box, cube, and cylinder, Pythagorean theorem and special properties of Isosceles, Equilateral and Right triangles, 300 - 600 - 900 and 450 - 450 - 900 triangles, Properties of parallel and perpendicular lines, Co-ordinate geometry, Geometric Visualization, Slope, Similarity.

Other: Logical Reasoning, New defined symbols based on commonly used operation, Probability and counting, Arithmetic and Algebraic concepts.

SAT-II Subject tests (Source: College Board website)

The 22 subject tests Include: Writing (with an Essay), Literature, U.S.History, World History, Math Level IC, Math Level IIC, Biology E/M, Chemistry, Physics, French Reading with Listening, Spanish Reading with Listening, Modern Hebrew Reading, Italian Reading, Latin Reading with Listening, Japanese Reading with Listening, Korean Reading with Listening, Chinese Reading with Listening, and the English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT).

Applying Procedure: click here for SAT dates

Can be applied online on College Board website ( or ETS website ( or mailed to the same. A total test fee of $58 is charged through an International credit card. One has to fill in the credit card number, the card holder's name and the expiry date of the card. Also, the application form can be procured by an ordinary mail and a DD worth $58 favoring Princeton, New Jersey payable at New Jersey, USA of an International bank can be sent by post along with the filled in application form.

About New SAT

As per college board, any student who wants to be admitted to the college in 2006 or later, will have to appear for new SAT starting from 27th march 2005. The following changes will be incorporated:


(i) A new writing section, which will consist of, multiple choice questions (on grammar and usage) and a student written essay will be included as one of the sections.
(ii) Analogies will seize to exist.
(iii) Short reading passages will be added to the existing long reading passages.


(i) More of algebra, co-ordinate geometry, trigonometry and related topics will be included.
(ii) Quantitative comparisons will seize to exist.
(iii) The emphasis will be on functions, direct and inverse variations, transformations and elaborate co-ordinate geometry.

Some more facts about new SAT:

(i) The new SAT test will be administered for the class of 2006 (first new SAT test date: 27th March 2005).
(ii) The test fees will be increase by $10 to $12.
(iii) The testing time for new SAT will be approximately half-an-hour longer (Total time: 3 hours and 35 minutes).
(iv) The new SAT will have three sections - Writing, Math and Critical reading, each scored at the scale of 200 to 800 (therefore the total marks = 800)
(v) The essay questions will require the student to take a position on an issue in its support, for which the student need not have any prior knowledge about the topic.


PSAT is an acronym for Preliminary SAT.

NMSQT is an acronym for National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test.

The PSAT / NMSQT is designed to give enough practice for the main SAT test, also providing with a chance to qualify for scholarships sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. The syllabus is same as for SAT - 1. The PSAT / NMSQT is taken by the Sophomores and Juniors, but only the test scores from Junior year are used to award Scholarships. This test is of 2 hours and 10 minutes duration and includes 5 sections.

- Two 25 minutes Verbal sections
- Two 25 minutes Maths section
- One 30 minutes Writing skills section

The test scores vary over the scale of 20 to 80.

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