The SAT tests skills taught in high school classrooms: reading, writing and math. A student’s knowledge and skills in these subjects are important for success in college and beyond.
• The critical reading section includes reading passages and sentence completions.
• The writing section includes a short essay and multiple-choice questions on identifying errors and improving grammar and usage.
• The mathematics section includes topics like arithmetic operations, algebra, geometry, statistics and probability.
The SAT is a fairly long exam – 3 hours and 45 minutes in duration, and made up of 10 sections:
• One 25-minute essay
• Six 25-minute sections (mathematics, critical reading and writing)
• Two 20-minute sections (mathematics, critical reading and writing)
• One 10-minute multiple-choice writing section
Each section of the SAT (critical reading, mathematics and writing) is scored on a 200-800 point scale, for a possible maximum total of 2400. Students also get two ‘subscores’ on the writing section: a multiple-choice score from 20 to 80, and an essay score from 2 to 12.
To understand the scoring better – students are first given a raw score, where they receive 1 point for every correct answer and lose ¼ point for an incorrect answer. No points are deducted for omitted answers. Then these scores are equated. A statistical analysis is done to make sure the test is an accurate representation of the student’s skills. The unscored section of the test helps to ensure the test is fair. Questions in the unscored section are not factored into your SAT score. In the statistical analysis, equating adjusts for slight differences in difficulty between test editions and ensures that a student's score of, say, 450 on one edition of a test reflects the same ability as a score of 450 on another edition of the test. Equating also ensures that a student's score does not depend on how well others did on the same edition of the test. Every SAT includes a 25-minute section, which doesn't count toward your final score. It may be a critical reading, mathematics, or multiple-choice writing section. This is done to help College Board assess questions for next year's test, and it ensures that the SAT accurately reflects students’ skills. Also, the unscored section helps account for minor differences in difficulty across different forms of the test.