sat & act preparation

about the sat

  • The SAT measures what you know and how well you apply that knowledge.
  • The SAT is a primary factor in college admission.
  • It tests the same things taught every day in high school classrooms — reading, writing and math.
  • Although high school grades are a very useful indicator of how students will perform in college, there is great variation in grading standards and course rigor within and across high schools.
  • Educators trust the SAT as a useful part of the college application process because the SAT is:
    • The most widely used standardized admission test (college entrance exam).
    • The most researched and tested standardized admission test
    • Almost all colleges and universities use the SAT to make admission decisions.
    • A combination of grades and SAT scores is the best predictor of a student’s future success in college.
    • The standard in reliability and validity
    • An internationally recognized, accurate measure of college readiness and scholarship potential

Why Take the SAT?

As the nation’s most widely used college admission test, the SAT is the first step toward higher education for students of all backgrounds. It’s taken by more than two million students every year and is accepted by virtually all colleges and universities.

There are many reasons to take the SAT, but here are a few of the biggies:

It tests what you already know

The SAT tests the reading, writing and math skills that you learn in school and that are critical for success in college and beyond.

It gives both you and colleges a sense of how you’ll be able to apply the thinking, writing and study skills required for college course work.

It’s fair to everyone

The questions are rigorously researched and tested to make sure students from all backgrounds have an equal chance to do well.

And the test is straightforward. There are no tricks designed to trip you up. Students who do well in the classroom are often the same ones who will do well on the SAT.

It’s more than just a test

The SAT also provides the opportunity for you to connect to scholarship opportunities, place out of certain college courses and learn more about your academic strengths.

It helps you select the right fit for college

SAT scores are among the factors considered in college admission. Many schools’ websites share the range of SAT scores reported by their admitted students.

Rise to the challenge

The 21st century global economy is fast-paced and changeable. You’ll need a new set of skills – and a habit of lifelong learning – to flourish in this information age. The best way to succeed and thrive as an adult is to challenge yourself to rise to a high level of academic excellence now. You’ll do that best by taking challenging high school courses and working hard in them.

The SAT provides a trusted, nationally recognized indicator of your academic readiness for college. In a way, the SAT is the bridge between the hard work you’ve already done and the college that is the best fit for the future you are about to create.

test details

  • Three sections: critical reading, mathematics and writing
  •  Length: 3 hours, 45 minutes (including three breaks)
  •  Score range: 200–800 per section, 600–2400 overall

SAT Question Types

The SAT contains several different question types, including a student-produced essay, multiple-choice questions and student-produced responses (grid-ins).

  • Critical Reading
    • Reading comprehension
    • Sentence completions
    • Paragraph-length critical reading
  • Mathematics
    • Numbers and operations
    • Algebra and functions
    • Geometry
    • Statistics, probability and data analysis
  • Writing
    • Improving Grammar and Usage
    • Identifying Errors
    • Word choice
    • Student-written essay


what's on the sat?

TOTAL TIME:  3 hours 45 minutes


  • Sentence completions (19)
  • Passage-based reading (48)
  • Two 25-minute multiple-choice sections
  • One 20-minute multiple-choice section


  • Multiple choice (44)
  • Student-produced responses (10)
  • Two 25-minute sections
  • One 20-minute section
  • The 54 questions cover:
  • Number & operations (11-13)
  • Algebra & functions, including higher-level math (19-21)
  • Geometry & measurement (14-16)
  • Data analysis, statistics, & probability (6-7)


  • Identifying sentence errors (18)
  • Improving sentences (25)
  • Improving paragraphs (6)
  • Essay (1)
  • One 25-minute multiple-choice section
  • One 10-minute multiple-choice section
  • One 25-minute essay

ADDITIONAL UNSCORED SECTION:  One 25-minute section (not the essay)

  • Test Order

The SAT is composed of 10 testing sections. The first section is always a 25-minute essay, and the last section is always a 10-minute, multiple-choice writing section. Sections two through seven are 25-minute sections. Sections eight and nine are 20-minute sections.

  • The Unscored Section

In addition to the nine scored sections of the SAT, there is one 25-minute section that the College Board uses to ensure that the SAT continues to be a fair and valid test. It may be a critical reading, mathematics or multiple-choice writing section.  Your performance in this section does not count toward your score, and you will not be able to tell which section is unscored while you are taking the test.

when to take the sat

Most students take the SAT during their junior and senior year in high school, and that’s what is typically recommended.

At least half of all students take the SAT twice ム usually once in the spring of their junior year and again in the fall of their senior year. Most students improve their scores the second time around. This is partly due to covering more academic material from junior to senior year.

getting ready for the sat

  • Select challenging high school courses. The best way to get ready for the test is to do well in school, study hard and become familiar with the test and the testing environment. There are no tricks or shortcuts to improving your performance.
  • Read widely and write extensively, both in and out of school.
  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT® as a sophomore or junior.
  • Become familiar with SAT question types, format and directions. SAT practice in a school or home setting can help you familiarize yourself with the test and the test-taking environment.

a little practice goes a long way

  • To feel comfortable and confident on test day, it’s a good idea to be familiar with the test format and question types.
  • Like anything else in life, a little practice never hurts.