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

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You are probably wondering why you should take the SAT.

Well, here is why:
  • Almost all colleges and universities accept the SAT
  • When compared with a student's GPA, his or her SAT results will confirm the student's readiness for college
  • Taking the SAT might give you the opportunity to access to scholarships and other benefits
  • You can bypass introductory college courses
  • You might potentially even fulfill your writing assessment requirement for certain institutions

Learn more about the scholarships and college in general in Shmoop's college 101.


What is the SAT?

All Right - What is This SAT Business?

The SAT is an exam designed to test all of the knowledge you acquired (and retained) while in high school so that college admissions departments may determine if you’d be a good fit for their school. How dare they base their decisions on such arbitrary factors as intelligence and retention?! Although to be fair, it is sometimes the biggest eggheads who struggle on the SAT. While it’s true that you’re being tested on your bank of knowledge, you’re also being tested on something else - your ability to take the SAT.

Oh yeah - there’s an art to it. That’s why the preparation is more than half the battle. You’ll be dealing with three sections - Math (54 questions), Critical Reading (67 questions) and Writing (49 questions). There will be multiple choice, problem-solving and essay questions. How much time you devote to preparing for each type of problem and what specific aspects of each section you concentrate on may drastically affect your final result. And that’s where we come in.

SAT Facts

SAT takes three hours and 45 minutes

The SAT is a nine-section test that takes up approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes of your lovely day. In addition to the nine scored sections, there is one 25-minute "variable" (or sometimes called "experimental") section that is not scored.

  • Three math sections: Two math sections of 25 minutes each, and another math section of 20 minutes. Between those three sections, you'll tackle 54 questions – 44 multiple-choice and 10 "grid-in" responses where you will need to bubble in your own answers.
  • Three reading sections: Two 25-minute reading sections and one 20-minute reading section. During those three sections, you'll face a total of 19 sentence completion problems and 48 critical reading questions.
  • Two more writing sections: Finally, one 25-minute writing section and one 10-minute writing section together cover 49 questions on writing skills – 18 on identifying sentence errors, 25 on improving sentences, and 6 on improving paragraphs.
  • Remember: In addition to all of this, you will have one variable or "experimental" section that could be math, critical reading, or writing. That section won't be scored.

We'll show you how to tackle all of these question types in good time; for now, just know that these sections can come in any order (except the essay, which always comes first), but they're all guaranteed to be there (or your money back).

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