As the subject matter of high school courses and grading standards vary widely, the Admissions Testing Service of the College Board has developed tests which provide a common standard against which all students may be compared. There are two types of tests that may be required for college admissions. They are the SAT Reasoning Test and the SAT Subject Test, formerly referred to as the SAT II.
Who Should Take the SAT with Essay
You don’t have to take the SAT with Essay, but if you do, you’ll be able to apply to colleges that recommend or require it.
College Board has published a list which includes the most up-to-date essay policy information for U.S. and international colleges, as well as scholarship providers. If you don’t see a college you’re looking for, or if you want to make sure a college’s essay policy hasn’t changed, contact them directly. Click here for a link to that page of the College Board website.
Changing from SAT to SAT with Essay or the Reverse
The SAT has an optional Essay. You should take care to choose the desired test type at registration. You may or may not be able to change from SAT to SAT with Essay (or the reverse) on test day.
Changes to the Essay option on test day:
Must be requested at check-in. Students requesting a change will be seated after the other students on a first-come, first-served basis, if materials and space allow;
Are not guaranteed and will be made at the discretion of the test center staff at check-in;
May be declined by test center staff for various reasons, including lack of sufficient materials, staff, or seats to accommodate the change;
Are not available to Waitlist students;
Are not permitted for test-takers over 21;
May not be permitted in certain test centers — see sat.org/international for details;
Are not available for School Day administrations.
Once assigned a test room on test day, you may not change test type. Students attempting to change rooms after check-in will be dismissed from the center and their scores will be canceled. If you are seated in an Essay room and decide not to write the Essay, your official score report will include an Essay score of zero. Also if you leave the room before testing ends, your scores will be canceled. You will be automatically refunded or billed for the difference between your registration choice and the test you take on test day. We will process the refund/charge in the same manner as the payment you made when you registered. Fee waivers cover any changes to the Essay option.
Does Score Choice allow students to choose individual section scores to send?
Students are only able to select which scores they send by test date for the SAT and by individual test for SAT Subject Tests. Scores from an entire SAT test are sent. Students can choose, by test date (test sitting), which scores appear on the score report sent to colleges, universities, or scholarship programs. Students cannot, for example, send just their math score.
Listed below are some of the key changes the College Board made to the SAT to make it more focused, clear and useful.
It better reflects what you learn in class. The best way to practice for the redesigned SAT is to take challenging courses in high school and work hard in those courses.
SAT vocabulary words are gone.
There’s no penalty for guessing. You’ll receive points for the questions you get right, but won’t be penalized for choosing the wrong answer.
It focuses more on the math that matters most for college and a wide variety of careers.
Free practice for all students. College Board has partnered with Khan Academy to provide free SAT practice materials that can be personalized for you.
Timing: 3 hours; 3 hours 50 minutes with the optional essay
1 Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Test – 65 minute Reading section, 35 minute Language and Writing section.
I Math test – 55 minute section with calculator, 25 minute section without calculator.
1 Essay – optional – 50 minutes
No wrong-answer penalty
Score is based out of 1600; 800 for Math, 800 for Evidences-Based Reading and Writing, optional Essay will receive a separate score
Sub-scores and insight scores are available
Reading & Writing
Reading and Writing are combined into “Evidence-Based Reading and Writing”
Reading section does not contain sentence completion
This section tests understanding from US and World Literature, History/Social Studies, and Sciences
Writing and Language section tests “Expression of Ideas” and “Standard English Conventions” through passages relating to Careers, History/Social Studies, Humanities, and Science.
Concentrated focus on problem-solving and data analysis, “the heart of Algebra”, “Passport to Advanced Math”
Real-world problem solving accompanied by informational graphics
Calculator permitted for 37 questions, not permitted for 20 questions
Multiple choice and grid-in questions, 1 enhanced grid-in question
Essay is optional
Students have 50 minutes to analyze a 650-750 word document and draft an essay
Tests reading, analysis, and writing skills; requires students to analyze a source document and explain how the author builds an argument
SAT Subject Tests
These tests are one-hour exams designed to measure knowledge and the ability to apply knowledge in specific subject disciplines. A student may select up to three tests on any one test date. The SAT Subject Test in Writing is no longer being administered because the SAT Reasoning Test will include a writing test. This change has led some colleges and universities to change their admission policies on SAT Subject Tests. Please visit www.collegeboard.com for a list of college SAT Subject Test requirements or recommendations. Like the SAT, scores range from 200-800. Tests are given in a wide range of math, science, social studies and world language areas. Colleges use SAT Subject Tests for admissions and placement purposes. As some colleges require these tests, it is important that the student fully research the requirements of the colleges of their choice.
It is extremely important to be aware of the testing deadlines for registration as the cost increases significantly for late or walk-in registrations and the student cannot be assured that there will be room in their first choice testing site.
Another testing program which is frequently used for college admissions are those offered by the American College Testing Program (ACT). This testing system is separate from the College Entrance Examination Board which offers the SAT. It is primarily used by schools in the mid-west, west and south. Students applying to colleges in these geographical areas are advised to carefully research which testing program is required by the schools of their choice. The American College Test, ACT, is a battery of tests consisting of four exams in the academic areas of English Usage, Mathematics Usage, Social Studies Reasoning, and Natural Sciences Reading. Four separate scores, plus a composite score average of the tests, are given. The ACT offers an optional Writing Test that is taken only if a student intends to apply to a college/university that requires it. Students should visit www.actstudent.org to determine if any of the colleges that they are considering require a writing test. Dates for administration do not conflict with the College Board SAT exams. Some college will accept either the ACT or the SAT scores; others will specify which test is required. Students may obtain information about the ACT in the guidance office, or online at http://www.act.org/education/index.html
The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT)
Taking the PSAT/NMSQT is the best way to start practicing for the SAT. The PSAT/NMSQT is typically taken by juniors and some sophomores before they take the SAT, and includes actual SAT questions to help them practice.It is administered in Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School, and in most other area schools, in October. The Score Report that students receive on-line through their College Board account will assist their learning through an analysis of how they did on every question, plus a complete explanation of every answer. Students can also register for Khan Academy and be provided with personalized SAT review based upon an analysis of their PSAT scores. The test is also a requirement for juniors to qualify for the scholarship competitions sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship program (NMSQT). A member of the Massachusetts School Counselors Association created the following video that will guide students through their PSAT on-line score report.