What’s on the SAT?
Performing well on standardized tests is about so much more than thinking quickly and bubbling in the answers. In order to really excel on exams, it is important to have a thorough understanding of exactly what the test will cover and review accordingly.
Many students struggle to decide whether to take the SAT or ACT, but reviewing the ins and outs of each exam can help make this choice much easier. Keep reading to learn more about exactly what the SAT covers so that you can decide and prepare accordingly.
The SAT is a multiple choice exam that is comprised of two major sections: Reading & Writing and Math. The exam is three hours long, not including breaks or the optional essay.
Reading & Writing
The language sections of the SAT include portions that gauge both reading and writing skills. The Reading section contains a variety of real-world passages that students must analyze and respond to questions based on. There are both single and paired passages, which can include different ideas on the same topic. Reading passages always include texts from classical or contemporary literature, an excerpt that relates to a social science such as sociology or psychology, a historical document or speech, and a reading about biology, chemistry, Earth science or physics. Graphics, such as graphs or charts, will be included in two passages as well.
Unlike Reading passages, the Writing section does not include excerpts from the “real world”. Instead, the texts are non-fiction and include narratives of true events and specific information on a certain topic. The passages in this section have grammar, vocabulary, and language mistakes, and students are tasked with editing these excerpts in order to convey their knowledge of language and proofreading. The five concepts the Writing section tests include English conventions, analysis in history and science, words in context, expression of ideas, and command of evidence. Each of these core concepts plays an important role in writing arguments and papers and is deigned to gauge a student’s ability to complete these tasks effectively.
The SAT math section is designed to reflect the types of problems that students might encounter in future math classes as well as in the real world. The questions on the math section are divided into three major categories: heart of algebra, problem solving and data analysis, and passport to advanced math. The first section focuses on linear equations and inequalities, the second on a student’s understanding of proportional relationships and ratio, and the third on concepts that must be mastered before moving onto higher level courses.
In addition to the different types of questions, there are both calculator and no-calculator portions. Some questions on the calculator section can also be solved without one and choosing to forgo the machine may actually help students save time in certain scenarios. The no-calculator portion of the exam is 25 minutes long, and the remainder of the math sections allow for test-takers to use calculators. Both the calculator and no-calculator portions of the exam include both multiple-choice and grid-in questions. After bubbling in all of their answers, students must complete a series of questions that require test takers to fill in their responses in a grid. These answers can include whole numbers, decimals, or fractions.
By learning exactly what kinds of questions the SAT will ask, students can get a better idea of whether or not they wish to take the exam and how to study appropriately. If you are currently preparing for a standardized test and looking for one-on-one guidance, our team of tutors can help you reach your test preparation goals.