1. What is the SAT?

The SAT is a 3-hour and 45-minute test used to determine admission for most colleges and universities throughout the United States.

The SAT tests three different content areas: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing.

  • The Critical Reading component of the SAT consists of two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section, for a total of 67 multiple-choice questions.
  • The Math component consists of two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section, for a total of 44 multiple-choice questions and ten grid-ins.
  • The Writing component consists of one 25-minute essay, one 25 minute section and one 10-minute section, for a total of 49 multiple-choice questions.

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 2011, average SAT scores were:

  • Critical Reading: 497
  • Math: 514
  • Writing: 489

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:

  • Critical Reading: 750
  • Math: 760
  • Writing: 750

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

Boston University

  • Critical Reading: 620
  • Math: 660
  • Writing: 640

4. Can I take the SAT multiple times?

Yes, but the SAT is only offered seven times per year, usually in October, November, December, January, 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 2400. 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 Critical Reading: 67
  • Maximum raw score for Math: 54
  • Maximum raw score for Writing: 49

Students receive one point for each correct answer and are penalized a quarter of a point for each incorrect answer. This raw score corresponds to a scaled score between 200 – 800.

There is no penalty for skipping a question, rather it is simply a lost opportunity to amass points.

Essays are scored by two grades from 1 – 6. The two grades are combined to form a score between 2 – 12.

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 Wednesday after the test date.

7. What types of questions are on the SAT?

The SAT tests critical reading, writing and math skills.

On the Critical Reading section, students will encounter:

  • Sentence Completion questions – These questions test ability to understand and apply vocabulary words in context.
  • Passage Based Reading questions – These questions test ability to read short and long passages and answer content-based comprehension questions and reasoning/inference questions.

On the Math section, students will encounter:

  • Numbers and Operations Questions – These questions will test knowledge of arithmetic, number lines, squares & square roots, fractions & rational numbers, integer properties, ratios, proportions, percents, sequences, sets, and logical reasoning.
  • Algebra and Functions Questions – These questions will test knowledge of factoring, exponents, solving equations, absolute values, inequalities, systems of linear equations, quadratic equations, direct and inverse variation, word problems and functions.
  • Geometry and Measurement Questions – These questions will test knowledge of geometric notation, points and lines, angles, triangles, quadrilaterals, area, perimeter, polygons, circles, coordinate geometry, and transformations.
  • Data, Statistics and Probability Questions-- These questions will test knowledge of graphs, data interpretation, statistics, and probability.

On the Writing section, students will encounter:

  • Identifying Sentence Error Questions— These questions test ability to identify errors in grammar, usage, word choice and idioms.
  • Improving Sentence Questions— These questions test ability to recognize and write clear, effective, accurate sentences.
  • Improving Paragraphs Questions—These questions test ability to read and revise a short paragraph by combining sentences and altering structures within sentences.

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 $50 to take the SAT in the United States. Some students may be eligible for a fee waiver.

There is a $26 fee to change test center or test date and a $27 fee if you register late.