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SAT FAQs

  1. What is the SAT?
  2. Who creates the SAT?
  3. Why did the SAT change in 2016?
  4. How did the SAT change in 2016?
  5. What question types appear in the new Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section?
  6. What question types appear in the new Math section?
  7. Is the new 2016 SAT harder?
  8. When should I register for the SAT?
  9. How do I register?
  10. How much does it cost to take the SAT?
  11. How long does it take to get my scores back?
  12. What if I take the SAT and mess up?
  13. What is Score Choice?
  14. How many times can I take the SAT?
  15. Why is Test Masters the best choice for SAT preparation?
  16. When should I start preparing for the SAT?
  17. Where can I get a sample SAT to practice on?
  18. How much high school math do I need before I can start preparing for the SAT?
  19. How do extracurricular activities, majors, recommendations, essays, and factors come into play in college admissions?
  20. Should I use an educational consultant?
  21. How do I find out about scholarships?
  22. Does having a summer job help or hurt me?
  23. Should I go to a public or private college?
  24. What are Dual Degree Programs?
  25. Why should I consider a Dual Degree Program?
    1. What is the SAT?

      The SAT is an exam administered by The College Board to test college and career readiness. It is primarily used for the purpose of gaining admission to college. The SAT is widely considered to be the single most important test you take in high school.

    2. Who creates the SAT?

      The SAT is created by Educational Testing Service (ETS). ETS is paid by the College Board to create the exam. Both of these companies are private.

    3. Why did the SAT change in 2016?

      According to The College Board, the SAT was revised to better focus on testing the skills and knowledge that matter most for college and career success.

    4. How did the SAT change in 2016?

      Changes to the new 2016 SAT include changes to the format of the exam, scoring scale, and question types.

      The new SAT includes a combined Reading and Writing section, formally called the Evidence Based Reading and Writing section, a Math section, and an optional 50-minute Essay. The Reading/Writing and Math sections are scored from 200-800, for a total composite score of 400-1600. The optional essay is given a score of 6-24; this score will not be reported along with your composite score, meaning your essay score does not affect your composite score. If you forgo the essay writing section of the new SAT, the test will only be three hours long.

      The new SAT no longer tests vocabulary in the same way; rather than testing students’ memorization of obscure vocabulary words, students are asked to identify the meaning of more commonly used words that change in definition based on the context in which they are used. In addition to being optional, the SAT Essay is no longer persuasive. Instead, the Essay is evidence based. In terms of content, the SAT Math section will change most. These changes are discussed in more detail below.

      In sum, the new 2016 SAT will have:

      • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section with a combined score (Possible score: 200-800)
      • Math section with non-calculator and calculator sections (Possible score: 200-800)
      • An optional essay (Scored separately)
      • Composite score of 400-1600 plus the essay score
      • Different means of testing vocabulary
      • Essay is evidence based rather than persuasive
      • Many content changes on Math
    5. What question types appear in the new Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section?

      The revision in 2016 has led to a removal of traditional SAT sentence completion questions. The redesigned SAT no longer tests rote memorization of obscure vocabulary words; instead, the SAT tests “high utility” words that change in definition depending on the context in which they are used. This means that students will now be required to have a deeper understanding of more commonly used vocabulary words, and will also be required to read entire passages to discern the meanings of words.

      Four types of questions will be featured on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section: words in context, command of evidence, informational graphics, and text complexity.

      Words in Context questions measure your understanding of how word choice influences meaning, shapes mood and tone, reflects point of view, or lends precision or interest. The Writing and Language portion measures students’ ability to apply knowledge of words, phrases, and language in general in the context of extended prose passages.

      Command of Evidence questions test students’ ability to identify the portion of text that serves as the best evidence for the conclusions they reach. You both interpret text and support that interpretation by citing the most relevant textual support. The Writing and Language portion measures students’ capacity to revise a text to improve its development of information and ideas.

      Informational Graphics questions ask students to interpret information conveyed in one or more graphics (tables, graphs, charts, etc.) and to integrate that information with information found in the text. The Reading test has two passages that include one or two graphics each. The Writing and Language portion has one or more passages that include one or more graphics, and asks students to consider information in graphics as they make decisions about how and whether to revise a passage.

      Text Complexity questions include passages that span a specified range of text complexity levels from grades 9-10 to postsecondary entry. Students are asked to make and refine decisions about the placement of passages within complexity bands.

      More generally, the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section will require students to answer questions based on their ability to read and refine the text as a whole.

      The most important thing about the new Evidence Based Reading and Writing section is that students will need to read entire passages to answer the questions.

    6. What question types appear in the new Math section?

      The revision in 2016 has led to the addition of a no-calculator math section, which is worth a third of your math score. The sections of the math test that do allow a calculator also feature questions that do not require a calculator to solve, where use of a calculator could serve to actually slow down the problem solving process. These question types assess how well students make use of appropriate tools.

      Four types of questions appear in the SAT math section: algebra, problem solving and data analysis, advanced math, and additional topics. Each of these broader question types may be broken down into more specific math topics.

      Algebra questions require students to solve equations and systems of equations, to create expressions, equations, and inequalities to solve problems, and to rearrange and interpret formulas.

      Problem Solving and Data Analysis questions require students to create and analyze relationships using ratios, proportions, percentages, and units, to describe relationships shown graphically, and to summarize qualitative and quantitative data.

      Advanced Math questions require students to rewrite expressions, to create, analyze, and solve quadratic and higher-order equations, and to manipulate polynomials to solve problems.

      Additional Topics questions require students to calculate area and volume, to investigate lines, angles, triangles, and circles using theorems, and to work with trigonometric functions.

      More generally, the math section of the SAT thoroughly tests your foundational knowledge of math topics in the context of real world situations, involving science, social science, or career related topics, focusing specifically on the math needed to pursue careers in the STEM fields.

      The new math sections will have:

      • A no-calculator section
      • Two out of the four total multiple choice sections on the SAT (2016) will be math
      • More questions on real-world applications of math
      • Problems that focus on algebra, data analysis, advanced math, trigonometry, circles and other topics
    7. Is the new 2016 SAT harder?

      This is a question with no easy answer. It depends on your strengths and weaknesses. The math section of the test is more advanced and counts more heavily toward your overall composite score, and calculators are only available for certain math sections. This will benefit students who are talented in math or who have taken more advanced math classes. Likewise, the evidence based reading and writing section of the test favors students with strong reading comprehension skills and an in-depth knowledge of English grammar. From College Board’s perspective, the SAT (2016) is more closely aligned with the demands of college and readiness for a career. Students who have done well in all school subjects should benefit from the test changes.

    8. When should I register for the SAT?

      We suggest that you sign up for the SAT when you are comfortable with the test and have completed all assignments related to your course. In other words, don’t plan to take the SAT directly after the course is over, in the event that you need more time to practice. However, we do NOT suggest waiting more than 60 days after the course to take the SAT. The deadline to actually register for an SAT exam is usually four to five weeks before the test date. The SAT is offered seven times a year in the following months: January, March, May, June, October, November, and December. Students should carefully consider factors like the availability of the test date, the length of time it will take to fully prepare for the exam, and the deadlines of the colleges they will apply to when constructing their overall college admission timeline.

      Schedule the exam:

      • After the course has completed (but not immediately after to allow for extra study time)
      • Before 60 days from the end of the course (so information is still fresh)
      • Registration deadline is usually 4-5 weeks prior to the test
      • Only 7 SAT exams each year: March, May, June, August, October, November, December
      • Consider college deadlines, preparation times, and test date availability before scheduling
    9. How do I register for the SAT?

      There are three ways to sign up for the SAT:

      • Online: Register at the College Board website
      • By phone: (888) 728-4357. Students may only register for the SAT over the phone if they are retaking the SAT. Only students who have a previous SAT registration can register by phone.
      • By mail: Under certain circumstances, some students may be required to register for the SAT by mail. You can learn whether or not these circumstances apply to you at the following web address: https://sat.collegeboard.org/register. To register by mail, you will need The Student Registration Guide for the SAT and SAT Subject Tests, which is available through your school counselor.
    10. How much does it cost to take the SAT?

      The SAT Reasoning Test costs $46.00 or $60 (with essay) + a $29 late fee if you register after the registration deadline. For more SAT-related fees, click on the following link: http://collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/calenfees/fees

    11. How long does it take to get my scores back?

      The scores are usually mailed out 4-6 weeks after you take the test. You may also look up your scores online through the College Board website two weeks after your exam at www.collegeboard.org.

    12. What if I take the SAT and mess up?

      On the day of your test if you want to cancel your score during or after finishing your exam, you should ask the test supervisor for a “Request to Cancel Test Scores” form. You can submit the completed form immediately at the testing center. You can also think about it for a day or two before mailing it to College Board. However, College Board must receive your request form no later than 11:59 pm (Eastern Time) the Wednesday after the test. You must include the test date, test center number, name of the test you are cancelling, your name, address, sex, birth date, social security number, registration number, and your signature. You must label your request “Attention: SAT Score Cancellation” and send it via one of the following methods:

      Fax: 610-290-8978

      Overnight delivery via U.S. Postal Service Express Mail (U.S. only):

      SAT Score Cancellation
      P.O. Box 6228
      Princeton, NJ 08541-6228

      Other overnight mail service or courier (U.S. or international):

      SAT Score Cancellation
      225 Phillips Boulevard
      Ewing, NJ 08618
      USA

    13. What is Score Choice?

      Score choice allows you to choose which SAT and SAT Subject Test scores you would like to send to colleges, at no additional cost. Different universities and colleges now have different score choice practices. Some schools require only the single highest test date score, some schools state that they combine the highest scores from different sections across test dates, and some schools require you to send all of your scores. View the score-choice practices of different schools. Always check with the schools you plan to apply to as well before sending your scores.

    14. How many times can I take the SAT?

      If the colleges you are planning to apply to only require you to send your highest test scores, you can now take the SAT and SAT Subject Tests as many times as you want. Colleges will only see the scores you want to send them! If the colleges you are planning to apply to require you to send all of your test scores, we recommend you take the SAT a maximum of three times.

  1. Why is Test Masters the best choice for SAT preparation?

    • Test Masters SAT Courses offer an intensive program with 11 classes of 3 hours each over 4-5 weeks. Test Masters Courses offer unique and extremely effective strategies not taught anywhere else, by highly experienced, dynamic instructors.
    • Highest Score Increase Guarantee – if you do not improve by at least 200 points, we will provide you with an extra-help course free of charge.
    • All exams administered in class are official College Board SAT Practice Exams. The answers are run through our computer systems to analyze your strengths and weaknesses on the SAT.
    • Course materials include our Test Masters SAT Manual with tricks and tips to do well on the SAT and a copy of The Official SAT Study Guide.
    • Tutoring help (in-person or on the phone) is available for students during and after their Test Masters course at a very competitive fee.
    • We offer a $1000 college scholarship to any student who completes our course and receives a perfect score of 1600 on the SAT.
    • Tens of thousands of Students have taken Test Masters Courses from all across the country.
  2. When should I start preparing for the SAT?

    Because the SAT is the most important test for college admissions, it is always best to start preparing as early as possible. This allows more preparation time to achieve score goals. For students who have the goal of becoming a National Merit Semi-finalist, it is best to start by June before 10th grade. Otherwise, a student should start by the summer before their 11th grade to maximize the effectiveness of our program because there are no distractions such as school homework, projects, exams or any other school activities. Students should start preparing for the SAT no later then the summer before their 12th grade.

  3. Where can I get a sample SAT to practice on?

    You can download this sample test from the College Board to practice on a Real SAT exam. If you would like to take an essay and have it scored for free by one of our in-house graders please Login to our website and create a free account.

  4. How much high school math do I need before I can start preparing for the SAT?

    Once you have completed high school algebra and geometry, you are ready to take the SAT. Although the SAT does include Algebra II, it is only a small fraction of the math section, about 10%.

  5. How do extracurricular activities, majors, recommendations, essays, and factors come into play in college admissions?

    College admissions in the United States are not standardized in any way, which means that each undergraduate college develops its own system. Some of the most important factors in college admissions are high school grades, difficulty of a student’s high school course selection, and scores on the SAT. The reputation of the high school is also important. Extracurricular activities such as membership to clubs, service activities, and athletic or musical talents are important during the admissions process and it is very damaging to a student’s application for him or her to have no extracurricular involvement. The typical breakdown of college admissions weights are: 50% class rank, 25% SAT, and 25% extracurricular activities and recommendations. Private schools tend to rely more on extracurricular activities for admissions than public schools.

  6. Should I use an educational consultant?

    Educational consultants counsel students and their families in the selection of educational programs based on the student’s individual needs and talents. The need for an educational consultant can vary based on the students; we recommend starting with arranging a meeting with your counselor as a research base, as they can give you some general information as a starting point for your research. If your school counselors spend many hours counseling the students through the admission process and they have received special training through workshops or if you have access to information through a college career center, then you may not need an educational consultant. You can also approach the career services or counseling departments within the institutions that you are considering applying to. You may want to find out how much they charge ahead of time before committing to a service.

  7. How do I find out about scholarships?

    To find out more about scholarships, their availability and requirements, click here. For more information on financial aid, click here. You should also ask the companies that your parents are employed at for any scholarship opportunities.

  8. Does having a summer job help or hurt me?

    Summer jobs are a great way to earn some money, and they also provide an excellent opportunity to gain experience. Work experience demonstrates your abilities such as time management, responsibility level, character, and leadership potential. Work experience can be anything from paid or volunteer work, after-school or summer program participation, to internships. You should inquire with your parent’s employers for any internships or summer job opportunities. Internships, whether paid or not, give you a first-hand look at specific careers as a way to identify career interests. In whatever programs you participate in, whether if it’s at a job, an internship, or helping out at home, your experience is an important way to demonstrate key qualities. The participation in the various activities may even help you find a topic for your college essays. Whatever qualities that you develop by this experience will help you build your resume and enhance your college applications. The summer before your 12th grade is the best time for summer employment, which is why we recommend Test Masters after 10th grade, if possible. You may want to start looking for a summer job in the spring of your 11th grade, which is when most employers start hiring for the summer. Remember, the quality of your experience is much more important than the number of dollars you can earn at any job!

  9. Should I go to a public or private college?

    State and community colleges, also known as public colleges, are generally less expensive than private colleges. Public colleges receive funding from their respective states in order to make the cost of education affordable to the greatest number of people. Most states offer in-state residents a significantly lower tuition price. At community colleges, your tuition rate is based on your district. If you live within a particular community college district, you can take courses for a lower price than students who live outside of the district.

    Private colleges, on the other hand, do not receive the same type of funding, so they rely more heavily on tuition, endowments and other private sources of revenue. Private colleges are usually more expensive than public colleges, but may offer smaller class sizes or scholarships and grants that are not available at public schools.

    Your decision on which school to attend or even to narrow down your search to generally depends on the following two criteria: money (scholarships and financial aid) and your choice of major(s). If you know your major then you should apply to the best school for that major that you can get into. If you are unsure of your major, then you should apply to a very well-rounded school, where you can explore the different career options and fields of study. Only you can decide which institutions are right for you, based on your specifications and the programs that you are interested in. Remember to do as much research as possible to make a well-informed choice.

  10. What are Dual Degree Programs?

    Dual Degree Programs differ from university to university. In general, universities may offer a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in your field of studies in a shorter amount of time versus if you pursued the two degrees independently (varies by university). They may also offer different variations such as offering an Associate Degree and Bachelor’s Degree or two different Master’s Degrees.

  11. Why should I consider a Dual Degree Program?

    Students successfully completing the program earn two degrees: Associate and Bachelor’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s, or Master’s and Master’s (depending on which degrees you pursue and what options the school offers). With the Dual Degree Program, one year of school and its financial costs are saved; also, having two degrees will give you an edge in the interview process when applying for employment over other candidates.