Written by Illia Solano
So it’s that time in your school career. You might be a junior or a senior who is getting ready for college and needs or wants to take the SAT but don’t know where to start. You probably need to take this test to get into your dream college or for scholarship opportunities. This whole experience might be scary and confusing.
I’ve been there; I’ve burned that bridge.
A lot of information can be found on the College Board page, but it can be really confusing. That is why I want to help you prepare for this test based on my experience.
The SAT is made out of four sections: reading, writing and language, math no calculator, and math with a calculator. There is an optional essay test but we’ll talk about it later.
The SAT is scored on a scale from 400-1600. It is not what many of us are used to, but it’s how the test is scored.
The reading portion is made out of 52 questions and is 65 minutes long. It is mostly about analyzing and proving that you’ve understood what you read. There will be several passages that you will have to read, and at a point, it might become too tiring to keep on reading. But that is why you have to practice a lot in advance to be ready for the day.
The writing and language portion is made out of 44 questions and is 35 minutes long. It is shorter, and that shouldn’t worry you. It is not like the reading one where you have to read whole passages. In this section, you read some passages but you are actually trying to correct grammar, conventions, and make the passage make sense.
The math section with no calculator is made out of 20 questions and is 25 minutes long. It is exactly what it sounds like, a math test without a calculator. This might freak some people out, I know I did, but as long as you practice you’ll be alright. Normally this section is kind of easier because it’s without a calculator. On the other hand, the math with calculator test is 38 questions, 55 minutes long, and slightly harder but doable. All these tests are based on basic algebra, advanced math, and some geometry. The best part is that formula sheets are provided in the test!
The essay is 50 minutes long and it is optional. It just tests your analytical and writing skills by making you read a passage and write about it. This doesn’t affect your overall score, it is separate. So if you feel you want to take it, then do. Know that this will also be an additional cost.
If you do decide to take the SAT you will have to register on the College Board page and pay the fee. The registration process does take a little time so be ready for that.
Once that’s done, you will need a lot of practice. This is not a test that can be “winged.”
I found that the College Board’s Khan Academy practice was really helpful. If you want to really get a feel of how the test is structured and how it feels like, practice there. They offer full-length tests that are really like the actual SAT.
If you already have a College Board account, you can connect that to Khan. It will take your previous PSAT or SAT scores and build practice activities based on your weaknesses. It’s a great tool.
But if you feel that you need extra practice, you can always sign up for outside tutoring or buy test prep books.
Also, taking the PSATs is a great way to get a feel for the SAT testing experience and test.
All of this information is going off of what I know about the test. It is not everything, but it gives a good idea of what the test is like and how to prepare. In Part 2, I will walk through what it is like on the actual test day.