The SAT is 3 hours and 45 minutes in length, comprised of Critical Reading, Math, and Writing sections. On the day of the test, you’ll complete ten sections, nine of which are scored and one 25 minute experimental section that is not scored. Remember, you won’t know which section this is, so treat all sections as if they will be scored. The SAT is subdivided as follows:
CRITICAL READING SECTIONS
- 24 Questions, 25 minutes to complete
- 24 Questions, 25 minutes to complete
- 19 Questions, 20 minutes to complete
- 20 Questions, 25 minutes to complete
- 18 Questions, 25 minutes to complete (8 multiple choice + 10 grid-in questions)
- 16 Questions, 20 minutes to complete
- 1 Essay, 25 minutes to complete
- 35 Questions, 25 minutes to complete
- 14 Questions, 10 minutes to complete
- 18 – 35 Questions, 25 minutes to complete.
The test ALWAYS begins with the 25 minute Essay and ALWAYS ends with the 10 minute Writing Section, but the other eight sections may be administered in any order. Before you take the test, set a target score that slightly exceeds the 50% score range at your preferred colleges or universities. Then develop a strategy to ATTACK THE TEST!
Make sure that you understand all instructions and that you use the test booklet as scratch paper. ALWAYS answer the EASY QUESTIONS first, being careful to skip difficult questions. Remember, you can go back to those later, time permitting.
Click below for detailed information about the Critical Reading, Math, and Writing sections.
POSITION YOUR ARGUMENT with an Introduction that takes a strong stance on the question, clearly explains your position, and transitions into the main points of your thesis. Employ 3 – 4 sentences to articulate your position and tell the reader where your argument is going to take them. Specifically:
- REPHRASE the question and make an original statement that takes a stance on the issue.
- ELABORATE on the statement in a complex sentence.
- MAKE YOUR CASE CRYSTAL CLEAR in a two or three pronged thesis that effectively articulates your arguments main points.
ORGANIZE YOUR INFORMATION. Regardless of your topic, you need a strong plan to ensure solid organization of your information. Set aside 5 or 6 minutes to Pre-write. Acknowledge and address potential objections to your thesis without sacrificing its integrity. Provide specific, well explained examples and maintain a logical organization. Utilize good language skills, write at least 4 paragraphs, and have 5 “high yield” sources available to help you make a real argument!
USE YOUR BODY PARAGRAPHS TO PROVIDE RELEVANT EXAMPLES
- In your first body paragraph, use your topic sentence to FRAME your argument in time and/or place. Give a general overview as an example, and then ELABORATE on your point using specific factual information.
- Provide YOUR OWN ANALYSIS and build your argument with transition words (although, in spite of, because, neither nor, either or). Follow up with another SPECIFIC EXAMPLE that proves your point. Use transition words like (thus,
although, In addition to, Nevertheless) to close your argument and transition to the major point of the next paragraph.
- Repeat this process in subsequent body paragraphs.
VARY YOUR EXAMPLES with diverse sources. For example, to illustrate that success is often born of great failures, you might draw points from any of the following areas:
- History: President John F. Kennedy’s failure to execute the Bay of Pigs proved invaluable to his decision making process during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
- Literature: Upton Sinclair’s unparalleled imagery of the squalid conditions that were so prevalent in the Chicago meat-packing industry was the direct result of tireless investigations and countless first-person interviews.
- Business or Current Events: The recent surge in President Obama’s approval rating after the capture and kill of Osama bin Laden is strikingly reminiscent of the spike enjoyed by President Bush after America’s victory in the Persian Gulf War.
- Personal Experience: Three years ago, our founder launched a consulting practice in the midst of the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. And although difficult to imagine during the recession, our company’s success resulted from helping countless students earn scholarship money to fund their college educations.
Your Conclusion should RECAP and BROADEN your argument by linking your specific examples to wider fields, such as politics, art, or commerce. Do not introduce any new information that you havecneglected to mention in your body paragraphs.
DEMONSTRATING A FACILITY WITH THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. Your writing mechanics are very important to the success of your SAT Essay. Maintain your reader’s interest by varying your sentence structure with transitions that change the rhythm, ebb, and flow of your writing. Make comparisons or draw contrasts. And always elaborate with specific examples.
Our experience is that many students think the Critical Reading section is the hardest section of the SAT because the long passages require you to stay focused on material that can put you to sleep! So it’s important that you interact with the pages in front of you to remain engaged with the passage. Be sure to write on the passage. Underline important information, such as transition or signal words (however, therefore, since, above all, nevertheless). Circle unfamiliar words and ask questions of the text (what is the author’s point? Why did he describe it that way?).
Remember, the SAT is timed, so don’t dwell on any one aspect of the passage. Answer the questions that you understand first, then go back to the others, time permitting. Try to determine the TOPIC (the subject of the passage) and the SCOPE (the breadth of the topic discussed in the passage). Then identify the PURPOSE and the MAIN IDEA of the passage. Finally, note the author’s TONE towards the subject(s) in the passage.
For more complete tips on how to Skim for Accuracy, Outline the Passage, Identify Essential Concepts, Make Predictions, and Eliminate Extreme Choices, contact TeachersBox to enroll in one of our small group or individualized SAT Prep series.
SAT Math is no harder than the Math you’ve studied in high school. But because it’s timed and requires you to demonstrate your skills on a wide range of quantitative analysis, some students perceive it to be difficult. Composed of 44 multiple-choice and 10 student produced responses, the Math section is draws from Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Data Analysis, Probability and Statistics.
The SAT provides reference information useful for almost every Geometry question tested, but students should memorize those formulas to save time and increase their ability to identify patterns, to recognize the easiest way to solve the problems, or to consider different approaches to arriving at the correct answer.
When answer choices contain numbers, the answer choices always appear in ascending or descending order. Also note that unlike all other questions on the SAT, there is no penalty for incorrectly responding to the ten student produced response questions (also known as grid-ins). Remember to mark up the test, to look for key words (like sum, is equal to, perimeter, area), and to avoid overusing your calculator.
For detailed tips and tools for solving specific types of SAT Math Questions, contact TeachersBox to enroll in one of our small group or individualized SAT Prep series.