The Essentials of SAT Preparation

 Use these valuable tips to prepare for this important milestone.

Guest post provided by Lauren Hill. See below for more information about this author.

For many young adults, the stress of taking the SAT weighs heavily as it plays a part in determining which university they are able to get into.

When faced with the exam, I know that I was scared of the unknown.  What was the test going to be like?  What was the format, and what types of questions would they be asking?  Will I be able to finish the exam in time?

By solving the SAT mystery, many students are able to approach the actual exam with more confidence.

Here the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the SAT exam.

How is the SAT exam scored?

There are three sections of the exam based around three subjects, math, writing, and critical reading.

Each subject division has a point scale system for grading, and is worth 200-800 points apiece.  The entire exam has a maximum possible score of 2400 points.

When I received my SAT score, I wasn’t quite sure how I actually performed.

The truth is, the test is scored in comparison to all of the other students who have also taken the SAT exam that year.

If you receive a score of 2100 or above, you should be guaranteed an easy admission to most universities.  That is assuming the rest of your application package is in good shape.

If you scored between 1800-2100, you have still done a good job and will most likely be considered.

Below 1800 is adequate for many programs; however, you may have a more limited choice.

How much time do I have?

Each student will have 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the Scholastic Assessment Exam.

This is broken down into 60 minutes for writing, 70 minutes for critical reading, and 70 minutes for the completion of the math section.

The exam also gives you 25 minutes to complete the experimental section, which is comprised of varied questions relating to the exam.

What do I need to know about each subject?


Not only are there multiple choice questions on the math section of the SATs, but there are also fill-in questions.

Make sure that you are fluent in basic math skills, geometry, and algebra.

Interestingly enough, there are no trigonometry or calculus questions on the exam.

I was excited to find out that a calculator was allowed in the testing area.  If time permits, try to double check your calculations using your calculator in order to avoid careless mistakes.


Yes, there is a short essay required on the exam; however, it is pretty simple to complete if you come prepared.

It is graded on your ability to express an idea, support your idea, and organize your information.  If you can do all of this while using adequate language structure, your essay will be great.

Knowledge of basic grammar skills, and the structure of the language is essential in completing the multiple choice section.

Critical Reading

Those who are excellent with critical thinking skills, a wide vocabulary, and reading comprehension skills will do wonderfully on the critical reading portion of the exam.

How should I prepare for the exam?

There are many different strategies when preparing for the SATs.

While each person may approach the SAT using a different strategy, it is simple to find out which study strategy works best for you.

There are hundreds of practice exams offered online, many of them free of charge.

Most of these exams are structured to mimic the organization and the information contained in the actual exam.

As you complete the practice exams, you can practice timing and pacing yourself.  This will familiarize you with the testing process.

Keep these tips in mind while studying:

  • Find a secluded area where you can quietly take a 4 hour practice exam, uninterrupted.
  • Time yourself on each of the sections, taking 2 minute breaks in between each section.  After every third section, take a 10 minute break.
  • Answer the easy questions first, then go back and answer the harder questions.
  • Grade your test by using the conversion scale to find out your scaled score.
  • Keep practicing!

Preparing yourself for the SAT exam will better your chances at earning a higher score.

Not only did studying help me to regulate how quickly I moved through the questions, but I knew what to expect.

Be sure to take the extra time to prepare yourself for your big test day.

About the Author:
Lauren Hill writes for
School Tutoring Academy, a company offering SAT/ACT test prep courses as well as traditional tutoring.



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