What is the SAT?

The SAT Reasoning Test (more familiarly known as the SAT, and originally called the “Scholastic Aptitude Test”) is a standardized test for college admissions that is developed by College Board and administered by Educational Testing Service.

The test runs three hours and forty-five minutes and is divided into three sections: Math, Critical Reading, and Writing Skills. Each of the three sections is scored on a scale of 200 to 800 points, which add up to a maximum composite score of 2400 points.

Most colleges and universities require either the SAT or the ACT for admission. (See What is the ACT?) A growing number of colleges and universities are testing-optional, which means they do not require students to submit either the ACT or SAT for admission. (More information can be found at The National Center for Fair & Open Testing.)

We recommend that students first take the SAT Reasoning Test in the spring of their junior year. This way, if a student wishes to improve his or her score, the tests can then be retaken in time for scores to be sent to colleges during the senior year.

Many colleges now allow applicants to “superscore.” This means the student submits scores from multiple test dates, and the schools select the best score from each section, creating a “superscore.” So if an applicant takes the SAT three times and submits all three sets of scores, the college will extract the best Math, Reading, and Writing scores from the three tests and combine them into one superscore. Colleges do see all submitted scores, but it’s as much in their interest as the applicant’s to use the best scores because superscoring raises the college’s average SAT scores.

See our Calendar for testing dates.


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