What You Need to Know About SAT Testing

Everyone knows that SAT testing is an important step on the road to college. For many high school students and their parents, unanswered questions and conflicting rumors may add to the stress of performing well on this crucial test. Here’s some information to guide you through this process:

When to take the SAT

Juniors will want to take it in the spring once they have mastered much of the material. It’s not recommended to take it as a sophomore with the exception of the PSAT. You will also want to take it again in the fall of your senior year.

Every time you take the SAT or an SAT Subject Test, the score will appear on your score report that gets sent to colleges during the fall of senior year. You need not, and probably should not, send your SAT scores anywhere during your junior year. Unless you cancel the scores from a test you have taken by the Wednesday following the exam, the score will be part of your permanent record.

SAT testingHow the test is scored

There are three categories on the test: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. Each of these categories have multiple sections that go with them to determine your score. A perfect score is an 800 in each category.

What colleges asess

Even though the Writing test is no longer required, most of the selective colleges will still be expecting to see scores for the Writing section.

Colleges now have the option to view a scanned version of your essay on the Internet, if they choose to do so. They can then compare this to your application essays and English grades when trying to interpret your overall profile and presentation.

Without the analogies, the Critical Reading test puts more emphasis on short and long paragraph interpretation and vocabulary in context. Doing well on this section will help colleges assess your ability to handle college-level reading and analytic requirements.

On the Math section, you will need to show mastery of math through Algebra II. If you are taking Algebra II as a junior, you might want to delay your first run at SAT testing until June.

SAT testingPreparation

In general, you do not need to study for the PSAT so that can be a benchmark. Your PSAT results or first-time SAT scores will indicate to you which areas you need to work on. Our one-on-one SAT preparation will focus on your individual needs with review designed specifically for you. Our sessions typically run ten weeks to provide the strategies you need to improve your scores.

Using Your SAT scores to select colleges

Colleges will generally look at your highest score in a section, even from different test administrations.

As you look at your SAT scores compared to reported college scores, consider the middle-50-percent range as the most reliable indicator of what most students entering the college score on the SAT. If you are well below the range, this college is likely a stretch for you. Personal scores well above the range can indicate a high probability of admission.

Colleges usually post a detailed “freshman class profile” of last year’s class on their website. This information can help you assess score ranges, GPA, class rank, and other factors in more depth.

Subject tests

Many colleges recommend that you take two subject tests, and some colleges consider it, however, there are colleges that absolutely require these tests.

The SAT subject tests are shortened versions of the SAT that specialize in a certain topic. Those topics range from science to literature to language, to math and even to history.

Whatever your best subject is, take the SAT subject test for that topic. A high score in that test will show your strength in that subject to college admissions. If you can, take the SAT subject test soon after you finish the course. So if you take chemistry as a sophomore, plan to take the SAT subject test at the end of your sophomore year.

When testing day approaches, here are SAT Test Day Tips from the College Board. Additionally, you will find plenty of SAT testing information on their website.

It’s normal to feel anxious about SAT testing, but with some planning and preparation you’ll be in control and therefore more confident. If your student needs SAT preparation, contact us today.

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