SAT introduced in 1926 by the College Board, a private, not for profit organisation in the United States is a standardised test that students seeking admission into universities in the US need to take. The test is aimed at gauging if a student is prepared to take college and university-level studies.

If you are already familiar with the test, you may want to read our blog on the Recent Changes in the SAT. If not, read on to find out what the test involves. 

Breakdown of the SAT

The SAT consists of 154 questions in reading, writing and mathematics spanning three hours. The test is broken down into Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (65-minute Reading section; 35-minute Language and Writing section); Math (55-minute section with  calculator; 25-minute section without calculator); and an optional Essay (50 minutes).

Registration and Costs

The SAT is offered in most countries six times a year - in January, May, June, October, November and December. Registration for the SAT costs around $43.00 but can range between $35.00 to $53.00 depending on the country you are from. There is also an additional cost if you decide to take the essay test. Keep in mind that for students outside the US, late registration is not offered; so make sure to register for the test on time.

SAT Score

The SAT is graded on a 1600 point scale. A score of 800 is allocated for Math and 800 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing; the optional Essay is scored separately. The average score is 1000, hence your target score should be 1200 and above. The new test has eliminated negative marking, so now you don’t have to worry about losing marks on questions you may have guessed.

Here are a few tips to prepare for the SAT:

Familiarise Yourself with the Test

Get acquainted with the test format and the kinds of questions that come in the test. Also get firm grasp of the time allocated for each section so that there are no surprises when taking the test.


The best way to prepare well, is to practice consistently. You will find SAT practice tests on the College Board website or you can even download the free app that College Board offers. Consistent practise will also help you build the patience to complete the three-hour long test.

Join a Study Group

Studying in a group is always helpful to bounce off ideas and to keep that competitive edge. Moreover it also allows you to learn from and teach one another; both contribute towards better learning.  

If you found this helpful read our other guides for admission tests such as the GMAT, TOEFL and IELTS.

About the Author: Kingsley Chidi holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Electronic Engineering with concentration in ICT. He is a passionate writer and blogger with many years of experience as a freelance writer, writing for blogs for individuals and companies.