1. What is the SAT?

The SAT is a 3-hour and 50-minute test used to determine admission for most colleges and universities throughout the United States.

The SAT tests two different content areas: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math, plus an optional Essay

  • The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing component is comprised of two tests, one 65-minute section focused on Reading and one 35-minute section focused on Writing and Language, for a total of 96 questions.
  • The Math component is comprised of a single test with two components – a no-calculator 25-minute portion and a calculator-allowed 55-minute portion, for a total of 45 multiple choice questions and 13 grid-ins.
  • The SAT also includes an optional 50-minute Essay. Some schools may require the essay so it recommended that you write it.

2. How important are my SAT scores?

The importance of the SAT varies from school to school. Some schools place tremendous emphasis on the SAT, whereas a small number of schools have, instead, become test optional. While GPA, extracurricular activities and recommendations are extremely important, the SAT is the sole opportunity for colleges to fairly compare applicants across a uniform scale. Bottom line: An outstanding SAT score will wow any admissions committee and bolster a student’s chances for acceptance into a top tier university.

Your Sentia tutor will help you target your test-prep to meet the specific requirements and priorities of your top-choice schools.

3. What is considered a “good score” on the SAT?

For the class of 2017, average SAT scores were:

  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 533
  • Math: 527
  • Composite: 1060

While anything above these average scores may be considered “good”, top universities report significantly higher averages for enrolled students. For example, the prestigious Princeton University reports the following averages:

Princeton SAT Scores:

  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 730-800
  • Math: 740-800
  • Compostie: 1470-1600

A competitive, but non-Ivy League university, such as Boston University, reports the following averages:

Boston University SAT Scores:

  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 650-730
  • Math: 650-760
  • Composite: 1300-1490

4. Can I take the SAT multiple times?

Yes, but the SAT is only offered seven times per year, usually in August, October, November, December, March, May and June. Most students will take the SAT for the first time during their Junior year and achieve their highest score on the October administration during their Senior year.

Keep in mind that schools have different policies when it comes to considering scores from multiple SAT administrations. Whereas some schools will consider only your highest composite score, others will consider your highest section scores across multiple administrations.

5. How is the SAT scored?

Each section of the SAT is scored from 200 – 800 for a maximum possible composite score of 1600. The writing score is based 40% on the essay section and 60% on the multiple-choice sections. Before arriving at a final score, one must calculate a raw score:

  • Maximum raw score for Reading: 52
  • Maximum raw score for Writing: 44
  • Maximum raw score for Math: 58

Students receive one point for each correct answer. There is no penalty for wrong answers, so it is always to your best advantage to guess. Raw scores for each section correspond to a scaled score between 200 – 800. The two scaled sections are then added together for a total score range of 400-1600.

Essays are scored by two graders on Reading, Analysis, and Writing from 1 – 4. The two grades are combined to form a score ranging 2 – 8 for each dimension. These scores are not added together or combined with any other test scores.

6. Can I cancel my SAT scores?

You are permitted to cancel your SAT scores immediately after you finish the exam, but before you see your scores. There is no way to cancel your SAT scores once they have been reported to you. You can cancel scores immediately after the test by requesting a form from your test supervisor, or submitting a written request to the College Board no later than 11:59pm EST on the Thursday after the test date.

7. What types of questions are on the SAT?

The SAT tests evidence-based reading and writing and math skills.

On the Reading section, students will encounter:

  • Command of Evidence- These questions test ability to find evidence in a passage that best supports the answer to a previous question and the ability to identify how authors use evidence to support their claims. These also test ability to find a relationship between an informational graphic and the passage it is pair with.
  • Words in Context- These questions test ability to use context clues in a passage to figure out which meaning of a word or phrase is being used. They will also test ability to decide how an author’s word choice shaped meaning, style, and tone.
  • Analysis in History/Social Studies and in Science- These questions will test ability to draw on the reading skills needed most to succeed in those subjects

On the Writing section, students will encounter:


  • Command of Evidence- These questions test ability to improve the way passages develop information and ideas
  • Words in Context- these questions test ability to improve word choice
  • Analysis in History/Social Studies and in Science- These questions test ability to read passages and make editorial decisions that improve them.
  • Expression of Ideas- these questions test ability to understand a passage’s organization and its impact.
  • Standard English Conventions- These questions test ability on sentence structure, usage, and punctuation. They will ask about verb tense, parallel construction, subject-verb agreement, and comma use.
On the Math section, students will encounter:
  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis- These questions will test knowledge of ratios, percentages, and proportional reasoning. These questions test the ability of students to use their math understanding and skills in the real world.
  • Heart of Algebra- These questions will test ability to analyze, fluently solve, and create linear equations and inequalities. These also test ability to analyze and fluently solve equations and systems of equations using multiple techniques.
  • Passport to Advanced Math- These questions will test knowledge of complex equations requiring manipulation in order to solve

8. How do I register for the SAT?

To register online, visit

To register by mail, first obtain a copy of the College Board's Bulletin for the SAT Program (available at your school's guidance counselor's office). You can also request for a copy of the Bulletin for the SAT Program to be sent you by calling College Board at (866) 756-7346 or writing to:

College Board SAT Program

P.O. Box 6200
Princeton, NJ 08541 - 6200

9. What fees are associated with the SAT?

It costs $46, $60 with the essay, to take the SAT in the United States. Some students may be eligible for a fee waiver.

There is a $29 fee to change test center or test date and a $29 fee if you register late.