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SAT What you should


What does the test look like?



Number of

Critical Reading

Extended Reasoning


Literal Comprehension


Vocabulary in Context


Sentence Completions


Number & Operations


Algebra & Functions


Geometry & Measurement


Data Analysis, Statistics &





Improving Sentences


Identifying Sentence Errors


Improving Paragraphs



70 minutes
Two 25-minute sections
One 20-minute section

70 minutes

Two 25-minute sections

One 20-minute section

60 minutes
One 25-minute essay
One 25-minute multiple choice
One 10-minute multiple choice

How difficult is the SAT?

On average, students answer 50 or
60 percent of questions correctly
80 percent finish nearly the entire
Almost all students complete at least
75 percent of the questions

Timing is Everything!
Test is 3 hours and 45 minutes of testing time, plus three 5-minute
breaks, for a total of 4 hours to complete the entire test.
Dont spend too much time on any one question.
Spend seconds on the easiest questions
Hesitate to spend more than 1-2 minutes even on the hardest
Remember the SAT consists of a series of small, timed, mini-tests.
Keep track of the time allotted for each one and how much time
Wear a watch to the testing center.

Understand the Scoring!

You get a point for a right answer.
You lose one-quarter point for a wrong
There is no deduction for omitted
answers, or for wrong answers in the math
sections student-produced response
Each of the 3 sections is on a 200 to 800
point scale.

Overall Test Tactics

Learn the section directions now.
Answer easy questions first.
Mark skipped questions so you can quickly
locate them.
Guess.. IF you can eliminate at least one
answer choice.
Skip any question if you dont have the
faintest idea about the answer. You
DONT lose points!

Overall Test Tactics

Easy questions usually precede hard ones.
Dont change an answer unless youre sure
you made an error.
Read the words of the question carefully.
Be sure to answer the question asked and
not the question you recall from a practice

Recording Your Answers

You MAY and SHOULD write in the test booklet.
Cross out wrong answers.
Do scratch work.

Take care when filling in the answer grid for the

student-produced response questions.
Avoid stray marks on the answer sheet.
Make sure you are using a No. 2 pencil.
Mark only one answer per question.
Keep checking that you are placing your answer in the
correct section and number on the answer sheet.

Retaking the SAT

55% of juniors taking the test
improved their scores as seniors
35% had score drops
10% had no change in score
On average, juniors repeating the SAT
as seniors improved their combined
critical reading, mathematics, and
writing scores by approximately 40

Using SAT Skills Insight

Shows which academic skills students can
concentrate on to improve their scores

Using the College Board site to

prepare for the SAT
Sample questions for each area of the test as well as a
full length practice test
Allows you to create a personalized plan to prepare for
the test based on the number of times youve previously
taken it and your testing date

Using the College Board site to

prepare for the SAT
Helps provide suggestions for how to handle tough SAT
Sign up for a daily emailed question of the day
Answers will include explanation of the correct answer

Calculator Policy
Calculators are highly recommended.
You may NOT share calculators.
Calculators permitted during testing are:
Graphing calculators
Scientific calculators
Four-function calculators (not recommended)

Unacceptable calculators

Models with typewriter keypad, pen-input stylus, or touch-screen

Models that use paper tape, talk or make unusual noises
Modes that can access the Internet, have cell phone capability, or
have a digital audio/video player or a camera

Critical Reading Section

What does it test?
How well you understand what you read

What do the questions look like?

Sentence completion (19 questions)
Passage-based reading (48 questions)

Sentence Completions
Knowledge of the meanings of words
Ability to understand how the different
parts of a sentence fit together

Sentence Completions
Work on these first. They take less
time to answer than the passagebased reading questions.
The difficulty of sentence
completion questions increase as you
move through the section.

Sentence Completion
Answer a sentence completion
question with two blanks by focusing
first on one of the two blanks.
If one of the words in answer choice
is logically wrong, then you can
eliminate the entire choice from

Sentence Completion Example

Hoping to ------ the dispute, negotiators
proposed a compromise that they felt would
be ------ to both labor and management.
(A) enforce. .useful
(B) end. . divisive
(C) overcome. . unattractive
(D) extend. . satisfactory
(E) resolve. . acceptable

Passage-Based Questions
Measure your ability to read and think critically about several
different passage ranging in length from about 100 to 800
Passages are taken from a variety of fields including the
humanities, social studies, natural sciences, and literary fiction.
They vary in style and can include narrative, argumentative, and
expository elements.
Some selections consist of a pair of related passages on a
shared issue or theme; in some questions, you are asked to
compare and contrast these passages.

Types of Questions about the Passage

Vocabulary in context

Ask you to determine the meaning of words from

their context in the reading

Literal comprehension

Assess your understanding of significant information

directly stated in the passage

Extended reasoning

Measure your ability to synthesize and analyze

information as well as to evaluate the assumptions made
and the techniques used by the author
Most of the reading questions fall into this category
You may be asked to identify cause and effect, make
inferences, recognize a main idea or an authors tone, or
follow the logic of an analogy or an argument.

Reading Questions
Do not increase in difficulty from easy to hard.
Instead, they follow the logic of the passage.
Information you need to answer each reading question
is ALWAYS in the passage(s).
Dont be misled by an answer that looks correct but is not
supported by the actual txt of the passage(s).

Reading questions often include line numbers to help

direct you to relevant part(s) of the passage.
Do not jump from passage to passage. Stay with a
passage until you have answered as many questions as
you can before you proceed to the next passage.

Mathematics Section
Contains two types of questions
Standard multiple choice (44 questions)
Student-produced response questions
that provide no answer choices (10
On the HSA these were called grid ins

Strategies for the

Mathematics Section
Familiarize yourself with the directions
ahead of time.
The test does NOT require you to
memorize formulas.

Commonly used formulas are provided in the

test book at the beginning of each
mathematics section.
It is up to you to decide which formula is
appropriate for a given problem.

Strategies for the

Mathematics Section
Read the problem carefully.
Note key words that tell you what the
problem is asking.

Ask yourself the following questions

before you solve each problem:
What is the question asking?
What do I know?

Strategies for the

Mathematics Section
With some problems, it may be useful to draw a
sketch or diagram of the given information.
Use the test book for scratch paper.
Decide when to use a calculator.
For multiple choice questions, you may want to
refer to the answer choices before you determine
your answer.
Eliminate choices.
Make sure your answer is a reasonable answer to
the question asked.
Especially true for student-produced answer choices.

All figures are drawn to scale unless otherwise


Grid-In Guidelines
Answers are NOT multiple choice
Written in a grid as numerical values

All fractions should be expressed as improper

fractions, not mixed numbers
Start the answer in the left-most grid column
Never forget to fill in the bubbles as well as
writing the number at the top of the grid
Always guess on this section

You are not penalized for a wrong answer in this section

Calculator Tips
Remember to bring your calculator to the test and be
familiar with how to use the calculator you bring.
Make sure it is in good working order and contains
fresh batteries.
Dont buy an expensive, sophisticated calculator just
to take the test.
Dont try to use a calculator on every question.
Get your thoughts down before using your calculator.
Take the practice test with a calculator at hand.

Mathematics Topics on
the SAT

Number and Operations (20-25%)

Arithmetic word problems
Including percent, ratio and
Properties of integers
Even, odd, prime numbers,
divisibility, etc.
Rational numbers
Union, intersection, elements
Counting techniques
Sequences and series (including
exponential growth)
Elementary number theory

Algebra and Functions (35-40%)

Substitution and simplifying algebraic
Properties of exponents
Algebraic word problems
Solutions of linear equations and
Systems of equations and inequalities
Quadratic equations
Rational and radical equations
Equations of lines
Absolute value
Direct and inverse variation
Concepts of algebraic functions
Newly defined symbols based on
commonly used operations

Mathematics Topics on
the SAT

Geometry and Measurement (25-30%)

Area and perimeter of a polygon
Area and circumference of a
Volume of a box, cube and
Pythagorean Theorem and special
properties of isosceles,
equilateral, and right triangles
Properties of parallel and
perpendicular lines
Coordinate geometry
Geometric visualization

Data Analysis, Statistics, and

Probability (10-15%)
Data interpretation (tables and
Descriptive statistics (mean, median
and mode)

The Writing Section

Writing section includes:
Multiple choice questions

Improving sentences (25 questions)

Identifying sentence errors (18 questions)
Improving paragraphs (6 questions)

Writing an essay

Essay counts 30% of your total score in the

writing section

The Essay
Need to show effectively you can develop and express
Take care to develop your point of view, present your ideas
logically and clearly, and use language precisely

Must be written on the lines provided in the answer book

Avoid wide margins and keep your handwriting to a
reasonable size
Write or print so that the writing is legible to scorers
Must use a pencil if written in ink it will receive a score
An off-topic essay will receive a score of zero
If your essay does not reflect your original and
individual work, your test scores may be canceled

Sample Essay Prompt

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the
assignment below.
Many persons believe that to move up the ladder of success and
achievement, they must forget the past, repress it, and relinquish it. But
others have just the opposite view. They see old memories as a chance to
reckon with the past and integrate past and present.
Adapted from Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot,
Ive Known Rivers: Lives of Loss and Liberation

Assignment: Do memories hind or help people in their effort to learn from

the past and succeed in the present? Plan and write an essay in which you
develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with
reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience or

Tackling the Essay

Decide if you agree or disagree with the essay
prompt and write your thesis.
Take 5 minutes to outline your essay response.
Essay should consist of 4-5 paragraphs

An introduction
One paragraph each detailing 2 or 3 different examples
that support your thesis
A conclusion

Try to use one example from

literature/history/current events and your own
personal experience
Make sure you allow time for proofreading

Final Preparations

Eat breakfast
Use a reliable alarm clock and have a back up
Be aware of traffic and other potential delays
Things to take with you to the test

Admission ticket, acceptable photo ID, number 2 pencils with a good

eraser, calculator with fresh batteries
Snacks (to eat during braeks), a watch (without an audible alarm), a
backpack or bag (to be kept under the seat), and extra batteries


Any electronic device, scratch paper, notes, books, a dictionary,

compass, protractor, or ruler. NO CELL PHONES!!
Highlighter or colored pencils
Portable listening device or recording device

Arrive early to select a seat you are comfortable sitting in for the
If you are easily distracted dont sit near the door or test