The SAT is a highly-recognized, widely-used standardized test manufactured and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), under contract to the College Board. The SAT consists of four required sections:

Section                           Number of Questions                  Time
Reading                          52 questions                                65 minutes
Writing and Language    44 questions                                35 minutes
Math – No Calculator     20 questions                                25 minutes
Math – Calculator           38 questions                                55 minutes
Essay (optional)               1 question                                  50 minutes

When you register for the SAT, you indicate whether you will be taking the SAT with or without the essay. Some colleges require the essay. For this reason I advise students to take the SAT at least once with ​ the Essay.


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The redesigned SAT (as of March of 2016) incorporated the following changes:

  1. More of a focus on reasoning skills in context as opposed to skills in isolation: Historically vocabulary-based questions evaluated whether the student knew the common definition of a particular word on its own; now it will ask the meaning of the word as it is used in context. Writing questions tested a single grammatical rule in an isolated sentence. Math questions tested a single concept within a limited scope. The redesigned reading and writing questions are completely passage-based, requiring the reader to make connections between different parts of the passage using logic. The math problems are more practical and require problem solving in multiple steps.
  2. Fewer tricks: Unlike the ACT, the SAT has a reputation of posing questions in ways that are deceiving and purposely complicated. This led to the belief that plenty of competent students may have performed poorly solely because they couldn't identify what the question was actually asking. In the redesigned test, the presentation of questions and problems is more straightforward.
  3. The test is now more predictable and will deviate less from test to test: sections of the test are now identified beforehand and there are more questions represented across each major skill.
  4. Change in format: The SAT returns to being scored out of 1600. The previously independent reading and writing sections are now combined. The essay section is now optional. Instead of multiple-choice questions having 5 answers to choose from, they will now have 4. Perhaps of greatest significance, whereas wrong answers resulted in a ¼ point deduction in the past, there is no longer a penalty for incorrect responses.
  5. The new SAT looks a great deal like the ACT making it unnecessary for many students to try both tests. 

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