A Complete Guide to the SAT Exam

All high school students are required to take a standardised test to prove their eligibility to a university. In the United States, the SAT exam or the Scholastic Assessment Test is essential for all nationalities to secure admission into an undergraduate course in the US. 

In this article, we will look at what the SAT is, its syllabus, as well as some tips to crack the exam. 

What is SAT?

The SAT is a standardised exam commonly used in the United States for college admissions. The Scholastic Aptitude Test has gone under several title changes since its introduction in 1926. First, it was called the Scholastic Aptitude Test, and then, it was renamed the Scholastic Assessment Test, after which it was called the SAT I: Reasoning Test, and finally, just the SAT.

The SAT is owned, developed, and published by the College Board, a private, non-profit business based in the United States. The College Board’s test is administered by the Educational Testing Service and measures a pupil’s college preparation. 

What is the function of SAT?

The SAT is often taken by juniors and seniors in high school. According to the College Board, the SAT is designed to assess numeracy, reading, and writing abilities required for academic achievement in college. They claim that the SAT measures how well test takers analyse and solve issues, using the abilities they gained in school. Furthermore, according to the College Board, using the SAT in conjunction with high school grade point average (GPA) is a greater predictor of college success than high school grades alone. 

Therefore, since 2007, all four-year colleges and universities in the United States require the SAT test as part of an admission process. However, as of Fall 2022, over 1400 four-year colleges and universities have stopped requiring any standardised test scores for admission, though some are only doing so temporarily due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

SAT Exam in India

Indian students who want to enrol in undergraduate programmes in the United States take the SAT. Additionally, several colleges provide SAT scholarship money to students depending on their SAT scores. The SAT is administered five times a year in India, usually in the months of December, October, August, May, and March.

Educational Qualification Requirements for SAT

The College Board, which administers and supervises the SAT exam, has not set any formal qualifying criteria. In fact, there is no minimum or maximum age limit for taking the SAT exam. Students who want to apply for undergraduate studies overseas and have finished their high school education are allowed to sit for the exam. Furthermore, aspirants can retake the SAT exam as many times as they choose.

Procedure to Apply for SAT in India

The following are the measures that applicants must take before taking the SAT exam:

The College Board Website
  • Sign up for the SAT Exam.
  • Obtain a SLAT Admission Ticket 
  • Take the SAT
  • Verify SAT scores/results
  • Send the scores to the universities

Testing Sections in SAT

The SAT contains two sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW), and Math. Both of these are further subdivided into four sections: math (no calculator), math (calculator allowed), reading as well as writing, and language. Previously, the exam taker had the option of writing an essay, but at present, this section does not exist. The College Board stated that the essay component will be eliminated because “there are other opportunities for students to demonstrate their mastery of essay writing”, such as the test’s reading and writing sections. Overall, the scored component of the SAT takes three hours in total, or three hours and fifty minutes if the optional essay section is chosen too. 

SAT Score Breakdown

SAT Score Breakdown

Each segment’s score is a multiple of ten and is published on a scale of 200 to 800. The SAT total score is determined by summing the two section scores, thus, yielding total scores ranging from 400 to 1600. In addition to the two section scores, three “test” scores in the range of 10 to 40 are presented, for Writing and Language, Reading, as well as Math. These scores have increments of 1 for Writing and Language/ Reading and 0.5 for Math. In the SAT, there is no penalty or negative marking for guessing. Therefore, the results depend on the number of properly answered questions. 

An in-depth look at each section of the SAT along with its criteria for grading

Reading Section

The SAT Reading Test consists of one part of 52 questions with a time restriction of 65 minutes. The questions are all multiple-choice and are based on passages. Some passages may have graphs, tables, and charts, but no math is necessary to correctly answer the accompanying questions. 

A question from the Reading Section

The Reading Test consists of five passages and 10-11 questions per passage or passage pair. SAT Reading passages are drawn from three major areas of study: social studies, history, and science. Each SAT Reading Test always contains the following items: one paragraph from a foundational document of the United States or a comparable source, one excerpt from American or international literature, one passage regarding psychology, economics, sociology, or another social science and, finally two science passages. All of the answers are based only on the substance presented or suggested by the passage. 

The Reading Test contributes to two subscores, each of which ranges from 1 to 15 points. The scores are based on the following criteria:

  • Words in context
  • Command of evidence

Writing and Language Section

The SAT Writing and Language Test consist of one section of 44 multiple-choice questions with a time constraint of 35 minutes. All questions, like those on the Reading Test, are based on passages that may be supplemented by graphs, tables or charts. The exam-taker will be required to read the sections and make adjustments or improvements to the underlined information. The nature of the reading passages for this test ranges from topic arguments to nonfiction narratives.

A question from the Writing Section

The Writing and Language Test provides two subscores ranging from 1 to 15 points each:

  • Expression of the candidate’s ideas
  • The ability of standard English conventions

Mathematics Section

The SAT’s mathematics test is separated into two parts: Math Test – No Calculator and Math Test- Calculator. The SAT math test lasts for 80 minutes and has 58 questions: 45 multiple choice questions and 13 grid-in questions. The multiple-choice questions have four potential responses, while the grid-in questions are free responses and ask the test taker to enter a numerical value.

A SAT Math MCQ Question
SAT Math Grid-In Question

The Math Test – No-Calculator part is 25 minutes long and contains 20 questions, split into 15 multiple choice and 5 grid-in.

The Math Test – Calculator segment is 55 minutes long and contains 38 questions, split into 30 multiple choice and 8 grid-in.

For the arithmetic test, the test taker receives many scores. Each of the three areas of math content is assigned a subscore on a scale of 1 to 15 based on the following criteria:

  • Algebra (linear equations and linear functions)
  • Data analysis and problem-solving (modelling, statistics, and problem-solving skills)
  • Advanced Math (radicals, non-linear expressions, exponentials etc)

Syllabus of SAT Exam

Let us look at the SAT syllabus for each section.

Reading Test

The section’s major goal is to measure the candidate’s ability to comprehend and digest written content. The applicant must understand the meaning of words in context, as well as differences in inferred meanings and impact owing to word usage. Candidates with a lengthy history of reading do well in this part, as they can understand the broader meaning of the chapter, which is critical for scoring well.

Types of Questions

Questions in this section require the exam-taker to answer the following:

  • The purpose of a sentence in the text
  • The author’s tone, style, perspective, and attitude 
  • Analyzing data given in charts, diagrams and graphs
  • The passage’s major concept or main notion
  • A phrase in a paragraph’s inference
  • Arguments or evidence in favour of the author’s position

Writing and Language Test

In this section, a candidate is supposed to identify flaws, remark/highlight phrases with better alternatives, and so on. The main focus is on the use and comprehension of grammar. As with reading, quick thinking is essential to ace the part, especially given that the exam-taker must reach the right answer in less than a minute. 

Types of Questions

The student must answer questions based on the passages. Some examples of questions from the SAT exam syllabus’s writing part are based on:

  • Verb tense, sentence structure, parallel construction, punctuation, grammatical use, subject-verb agreement etc
  • Increasing/decreasing the argument’s strength/weakness
  • Word selection for style, content, or tone
  • Changes in structure to increase readability

Mathematics Test

Math problems require knowledge of a variety of subjects, including arithmetic, geometry, statistics, algebra, and probability. It also entails data interpretation from tables and graphs, as well as problem-solving.

Mathematical subjects include the following:

Syllabus of the Math sections
Interpreting linear functions
Word problems on linear inequality and equations
Linear equation graphs
Word problems on linear functions
Interpreting nonlinear expressions
Word problems on quadratic and exponentials
Radicals and rational exponents
Polynomial factors and graphs
Graphs on nonlinear equations
Linear and quadratic systems
Solving linear equations
Solving quadratic equations
Rates, ratios, and proportions
Table data
Data inferences
Other key graphs and their features
Spread, and shape of distributions
Data collection and conclusions
Word problems on area and volume
Trigonometry functions
Angles and arc lengths
Right Triangle word problems
Congruence and similarity
Problems on a right triangle
Circle: Equations and theorems
Complex numbers

Types of Questions

Students will have to correctly enter the answers for the MCS as well as the grid-in questions. 

Expert Tips and Tricks for SAT Exam

Here are some tips for the SAT exam:

Tips for Test Prep

Get rid of the three wrong options

Rule out the wrong option

The most crucial guideline to remember on the SAT is that each question has only one right answer, and you should be able to eliminate all wrong alternatives. This means that your primary exam approach should be a process of elimination. 

Always Recognize your Mistakes

This is critical if you want to see significant changes. You will almost certainly get a decent grade on the exam if you take the time to comprehend each mistake you make on practise problems, why you made it, and what you can do to avoid it in the future.

Make a SAT Study Schedule

SAT Study Schedule

Create a strategic study plan based on your strengths and weaknesses. Pay attention to studying the content on which you did not perform well, but also continue to practise questions that you have mastered.

Tips for the Reading Section

Boost your Reading Speed

Reading the questions quickly and properly is an important aspect of the SAT. You want to go through big paragraphs quickly without losing sight of essential ideas on the Reading portion in particular. In fact, you will have more time to think about the answers if you reduce the time it takes you to read the questions and passages on the exam.

Pay Close attention to the Context and Connotation

This tip is essential for tackling difficult Reading section questions. In the section of the passage that the question refers to, look for words that imply a good or negative meaning. This can help you eliminate at least a few options. Context is equally important. Look at the sentences around the line that is cited in the question as well as the line itself. Identify terms that contrast with each other, such as “although,” “rather than,” or “still”. You should also look for powerful adjectives that might assist you to identify meaning.

Begin by skimming the Passage

By skimming the passage, you will gain a feel of the passage’s key concepts without spending too much time reading it carefully. Simply read the opening paragraph, conclusion paragraph, as well as the first and last lines of each body paragraph.

Using the information learnt, answer primary concept questions. Then, when needed, you can study certain portions of the material more attentively to answer questions regarding minor aspects.

Read the Introductory Paragraph Thoroughly

Every passage on the SAT begins with an italicised brief that provides some background about the passage and its author. This introduction paragraph provides important information, and if you skip it, you may lose out on important issues.

Tips for the Reading Section of the SAT Exam

Tips for the Mathematical Section

Highlight Important Parts of the Question

Highlight the information you need to locate in the question so you don’t get confused throughout the computation procedure.

Remember All-Important Formulas

Although the SAT math portion provides a list of formulae, you will waste time and momentum by repeatedly referring to them. Thus, it is essential to learn all of the formulae ahead of time. Refer to the document below of all important formulas to prepare. 

Other Tips for the Math Section of The Exam

Tips for the Writing Section

Recall All Grammar Rules

Because the SAT Writing portion uses a standardised approach to grammar, it’s beneficial to learn the rules to avoid misunderstanding. Even if you believe you’re quite skilled in the English language, going by what “looks right” to you isn’t always enough.

Be Wary of ‘NO CHANGE’ Answers

If you find yourself replying ‘NO CHANGE’ for a number of questions in the Writing portion, you should go back and double-check your responses. ‘NO CHANGE’ will be the response to just 25% or fewer of the questions. If you choose it more than that, you may be missing something important. 

Tips for the Writing Section of The SATs

Tips for the Test Day

Attend the Test Day Thoroughly Prepared

Test Day Prep

Your day-of preparation should centre around getting in the appropriate frame of mind and recharging your batteries for a long day. Your sole responsibility and goal are to be present both mentally and physically. Thus, you should obtain enough rest and eat a well-balanced breakfast. To lift your mood, indulge in your favourite tea or coffee. We also recommend wearing layers to accommodate the weather in the testing centre. 

To wake up your mind, a quick review of arithmetic concepts or testing tactics might be beneficial. However, don’t overburden yourself by attempting to pack a tonne of studying into the day before the test. Also, plan on arriving early in case of traffic or other difficulties in getting to the test site.

Answer the Questions you are Familiar with First

A frequent SAT test-taking method is to go through the current section and answer all of the questions you know first. If you can swiftly answer the questions you know, you’ll have more time to hash out the ones you’re not so sure about. If a question takes you more than a couple of minutes to comprehend, skip it and note it in your exam booklet as a reminder to return to it later.

Do Not Leave Any Questions Unanswered

Answer all Questions

Make an effort to respond to each and every inquiry. Allow time to revisit any questions you missed, and don’t be scared to just start filling in circles if you run out of time. Even if you don’t know the answer, you should at least make an educated estimate. Your score will be totalled from right answers and no penalties will be deducted for wrong replies. This implies that if you guess, your answer has a 25% chance of being accurate, however, if you leave it blank, you have no possibility of receiving any points.


We hope that this article has provided you will all the necessary information to prepare for your upcoming SAT exam. Remember that the key to taking the SAT exam is thorough preparation, and a calm mind on the day of the test. Thus, ensure to not stress out before or during the exam. 

Visit Podium School for more information on standardised tests. 


What exactly is the College Board India Scholars Program?

The College Board recognises aspirants who scored 1,300 out of 1600 on the SAT exam as College Board India Top Performers. Students whose names appear among the top scorers and come from low-income families are entitled to apply for a full scholarship for college tuition. Candidates must be in Class 12 when they take the SAT exam to be eligible for scholarships.

Are SAT scores acceptable for all programmes at India Global Higher Education Alliance institutions?

The India Global Higher Education Alliance (IGA) is a coalition of more than 40 respected universities in and outside of India working to make it easier for all qualified Indian students, regardless of income, geography, or social class, to apply to and enrol in universities and receive a world-class education. Many universities in the India Global Higher Education Alliance accept SAT exam results for admission to all of their programmes. However, some institutes, accept SAT scores only for specified courses. 

How to register for the SATs online in India?

The steps for applying for the SAT exam in India are as follows

  • Visit the College Board official website.
  • Make an account.
  • Include all of the necessary information.
  • Choose the exam you wish to appear for and your local testing location
  • Provide a clear picture of yourself.
  • Make payment for the application cost.

How much does the SAT exam cost?

The SAT exam alone costs 55 dollars along with an additional non-U.S. regional charge. The Non-U.S. fee for students taking the SAT in India is 49 dollars, making the total SAT fee 104 dollars

How do I acquire a SAT cost waiver?

Students in the 11th and 12th grades in the United States or its territories are eligible for SAT Fee Waiver. Furthermore, US citizens who live outside the nation can also have their fees waived.

What is a good SAT score range for colleges?

A typical SAT score is 1000 on average. An SAT score of 1200 or more is considered good. The perfect score on the SAT is 1600, which is also achievable. 

Is Sat tougher than JEE mains?

In general, SAT is regarded simpler than JEE mains in terms of stress level, syllabus, acceptance rate, and the number of students taking the test. 

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