SAT® PREP

Not feeling SAT healthy? Consult Dr. Shmoop.

Why should I
care?

SAT is used by almost every school. The better you do, the more choices you have


What can I bring?


The SAT Survival Kit

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How Difficult is the SAT?

How to Approach the SAT?

The SAT is developed to reflect accepted educational standards. The data show that the material on the SAT and the time allocated to each section are appropriate for the intended test-taking population:

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

The sentence completion, multiple-choice writing questions, and math questions are always arranged in order of difficulty, from easier questions at the beginning to tougher questions (that often look like easy questions in disguise) at the end. More importantly, easy questions More questions? are worth the exact same number of points as the toughies. So, by working slowly and getting all of the easier questions right, you can pick up the points that the test writers want you to get.

For example, let's look at the math portion of the test:

If you start out with 200 points just for showing up with your admission ticket and No. 2 pencils, and a "perfect" math score is 800, there are 600 possible points to earn, right? 800 – 200 = 600 possible points. Awesome. You are ready for a job at NASA.

There are 54 total math questions on the test. If you spread those 600 possible points across 54 questions, each question—easy or difficult—is worth about 11.1 scaled points (11.111111 repeating points to be exact…but who's counting?) 600 possible points ÷ 54 questions = roughly 11.1 points per question

For the test writers to get students to score those magic 500s, they need to get students to earn an additional 300 or so points, on top of what they get for showing up (200 + 300 = 500). So, there have to be 300 points ÷ 11.1 points per question = about 27 questions they want you to get right!


Let's look at it another way:

27 correct questions ÷ 54 total questions = 50%.
Hey, isn't a 50% on a test like an F in school?

If you got a 66% on the SAT (36 right answers out of 54 questions, with 18 left blank), a failing grade in most high school classes, you'd be sitting pretty at a score well above average – about 600. Chill. Even if you have your heart set on going to a selective college, you don't have to ace this test. If you score 85% of the questions right – a solid B in your average class – you'll get a shiny score up in the 700s.


*SAT is a registered trademark of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and do not endorse, this product.