FAQs on the SAT

For many high school students, few things invoke such a feeling of dread as the SAT test.

But the best way to tackle this fear – is to know up front the facts from the falsehoods… the things that make the SAT far more difficult and confusing than it should be.

Understanding exactly what the test is made up of – and getting organized well in advance – can only help to put your student in a much stronger position when it comes to taking the SAT.

To that end, here is part one of our “SAT Frequently Asked Questions” series.

– Scott

FAQs on the SAT

The SAT is simply a standardized test that is used by different colleges and universities for college admissions.

It is owned, developed, and published by a non-profit organization called College Board.

Your child will of course want to prepare for it just like any other test: study and practice the material and understand the format and rules.

Below are some of the most common questions asked by those preparing to take the SAT.

These should give you a base of knowledge about the test – and hopefully put your mind at ease and have your prospective SAT-taker knowing exactly what they will face.

What does the SAT measure?

The SAT consists of three sections that will each test a different aspect of your education. Each section is meant to measure your college readiness in these different subjects as well as your ability to apply the knowledge you have.

First – The Critical Reading Section (formally known as the “Verbal” section).

This part of the test includes questions pertaining to a student’s reading comprehension and their ability to make inferences and distinguish between different ideas.

Students must read both long and short passages and then answer questions about them, so it’s important that your child feels confident with their knowledge of vocabulary.

Next is the Mathematics section of the test. Students face both multiple choice and “grid-in” questions where the answer is written in by the test-taker.

Math problems include Algebra, Geometry, Number Theory, Percents and Statistics. It will test the students’ ability to solve problems in all of these areas.

Students must apply mathematical concepts that have been learned throughout high school. They must also solve word problems and use their data skills to interpret charts, graphs, and tables.

Finally – the most recent addition to the SAT test: the Writing section.

This section will test your student’s ability to clearly and effectively develop and communicate their own ideas.

It also incorporates a student’s ability to connect grammar, content and all of the writing skills developed throughout their high school careers. An essay is expected in this section, as well as identifying sentence errors.

Test takers are given a prompt, and then they must write about it. The student’s ability to revise and edit, as well as their basic understanding of grammar and sentence structure, and finally their coherence are all taken into account.

How many students take the SAT every year?

The SAT is one of the most widely utilized standardized tests in the world. In the 2012 graduating class, over 1.66 million students had taken the SAT at least once during their high school career.

And don’t forget the students who take the test throughout the world in order to gain entry into U.S. colleges.

In all, over 3 million students take the SAT every year in over 170 countries.

How many students achieve the highest possible score?

Each section of the test can receive a maximum score of 800. So with three test sections, the highest possible score a student can achieve on the SAT is a 2400.

This is no easy feat, to say the least.

Of those 1.66 million test takers in the U.S. last year, the highest number of students who scored an 800 on any single section was 11,494 on the mathematics section. And only 360 of those were able to achieve that 800 on all three sections.

For those keeping track that’s a .02% chance of a perfect score, but there is nothing wrong with dreaming big!

When is the SAT given?

The SAT is given only 7 times a year… so you absolutely have to plan ahead.

The test is held on one Saturday morning each month in October through January as well as March, May, and June. Test dates are widely published and easily found online.

Look for more SAT FAQs in the next few weeks.

To Your Family’s Successful College Search,

Scott Weingold

Co-Founder, College Planning Network, LLC

College Made Simple – The Free Educational Resource of the College Planning Network, LLC

Return to College Made Simple's Free Reports

Find us on Facebook! Find us on Facebook!


Increase Your SAT Scores Learn How to Increase the SAT Score... By 203 Point or More
Just tell us where to send the full report...
E-mail:
We'll also send you - at no charge - the College Funding Made Simple e-Course, delivered to your email inbox in 12 parts, by topic. With each part, you'll come away with valuable, actionable insights proven to help parents and students in the college admissions and funding process.

NO-SPAM PLEDGE: We believe that your personal information should stay that way. Rest assured, your email address is 100% confidential, and under no circumstance will we ever rent, sell or give away your email address outside of our own network without you specifically requesting us to do so.

Leave a comment
Your comment


Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by CollegeStats.org.  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News, TheStreet.com, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.