The SAT (pronounced "S-A-T") Reasoning Test, formerly called the Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Assessment Test, is a type of standardized test frequently used by colleges and universities in the United States to aid in the selection of incoming students. In the U.S., the SAT is administered by the private College Board, and is developed, published, and scored by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Many universities in other countries such as the United Kingdom have recently begun to use the test as a scholastic
benchmark as well, if perhaps not with as much weight.
Unlike many other countries' education systems, there are substantial differences in teaching methods and curriculum among U.S. secondary schools, both in regard to high schools in separate states and between high schools in the same state (see Education in the United States). The variability results largely from the American principle of federalism, whereby local jurisdictions have most of the control over school systems, and the tax system in the U.S., in which school districts are funded locally as well. Wealthier jurisdictions enjoy higher tax revenue, and as a result their public schools are better funded.
These differences make it difficult for universities to compare prospective students in an effort to identify and admit the most deserving and promising candidates. In the absence of centralized secondary education school exit exams (such as the French Baccalaureate, Irish Leaving Certificate, or British A-levels), there is a need in the U.S. for some sort of standardized tests. U.S. universities use tests such as the SAT and the ACT as a way of assessing students coming from schools using different class ranking or grading systems.
The tests are generally taken by high school students or graduates wishing to progress to higher education, though they are available to anyone. Test
results of applicants are provided to colleges and universities identified by the student. Although admission criteria to these universities also includes GPA, teacher recommendations, and participation in extracurricular activities, some colleges have a threshold score that automatically qualifies or disqualifies a candidate for admission. Scores on the SAT are also sometimes used as a criterion for the awarding of many academic scholarships (see also PSAT)
Internationally, there is little widespread interest or knowledge of the SAT, because other countries usually have their own standardized tests. However, the SATs
are available worldwide to interested students.
Graduates of schools outside of the United States seeking admission to U.S. colleges/universities are often expected to provide SAT (or ACT) scores. These students are often not informed of the availability of these tests, and most teachers outside of the U.S. (especially those in non-English speaking countries) are also not aware of this requirement. Usually, interested students must obtain information about the test on their own (typically from U.S. embassies, consulates, an international school and/or by obtaining a free "SAT Program Registration Bulletin, International Version"). This can require international travel and large fees.
Because the SAT has been well established for many years, some universities outside of the U.S. may also consider SAT scores in their admissions process as well, although they are rarely required.
Britain uses quite different tests called SATs (pronounced sats) at several stages in the school system.
SAT Reasoning Test
The SAT Reasoning Test (formerly the SAT I: Reasoning Test and commonly referred to as the SAT I) consists of three sections: math, critical reading, and writing, which includes an essay. Beginning with the March 12, 2005 administration of the exam, the SAT Reasoning Test was modified and lengthened. Changes
included the removal of analogy questions from the Critical Reading (formerly verbal) section and quantitative comparisons from the mathematics section. A writing section (with an essay) based largely on the former SAT II Writing Subject Test was added to the exam, and the mathematics section was expanded to cover three years of high school mathematics. Short passages with one or two questions following them replaced analogies. Scores on each section range from 200 to 800, with scores always being a multiple of 10.
The new SAT contains ten sections and a total length of 3 hours 45 minutes; with the additional writing section, a "perfect" score on the new SAT is 2400 (On the March 12,
2005 SAT, 107 students nationwide scored a perfect 2400; scores are calculated by the addition of the score on each section; thus a score of 800 on the Verbal, Math and Writing sections are needed for a perfect score). The ten sections are divided up as follows: three math, three reading, and three writing, with one equating section which may be any one of the three types. The equating section does not count in any way towards a student's score; it is used to test questions for future exams and to compare the difficulty level of each exam. During the test, takers do not know which section is the equating section (however, it is never the essay or Section 10, which is always a 10 minute
writing section). Each of the questions within a section is ordered by difficulty (the test is commonly said to be "powered"). However, an important exception exists: questions that follow the long and short reading passages are organized chronologically instead of by difficulty. It's also important to note that each question carries the same weightage. Each question now has five answer choices. Ten of the questions in one of the math sections are not multiple-choice. They instead require the test taker to input the result of their calculations in a four-column grid. For each correct answer, one raw point is added; for each incorrect answer one-fourth of a point is deducted. However, for
the ten student-produced answers in the math section, no points are deducted for a wrong answer. The final score is derived from the raw score; the precise conversion chart varies between test administrations due to minor variations in test difficulty.
What scores on the new test qualify as "excellent", "average", or "poor" are yet to be determined. One of the reasons for the new test was to broaden the range of scores by adding another section; however, this tends to make judging new scores difficult. Many American colleges will require the new test, but will continue to only consider the reading and math score combination in the criteria of their admissions process. Some colleges
will now accept the writing section in lieu of the SAT II: Writing Subject Test, which has been discontinued. Most universities and colleges plan to study the results from the new tests for several years before setting expectations and requirements.
In the early 1990s, the SAT consisted of six sections: two math sections (scored together on a 200-800 scale), two verbal sections (scored together on a 200-800 scale), the Test of Standard Written English (scored on a 20-60+ scale), and an equating section. In 1994, the exam was modified, removing antonym questions, and adding math questions that were not multiple choice. The average score on the 1994 modification of the SAT I was, in
theory, 1000 (500 on the verbal, 500 on the math). The most recent national average was 520 for math and 508 for verbal, a combined score of 1028. The most selective schools in the United States (for example, those in the Ivy League athletic conference) typically had SAT averages exceeding 1400 on the old test.
SAT Subject Tests
The SAT Subject Tests are 20 one-hour multiple-choice tests given in individual subjects. A student chooses which ones he or she will take, depending upon individual factors, such as college entrance requirements. Until 1994, the SAT Subject Tests were known as Achievement Tests; until January 2005 they
were known as SAT IIs, the name by which they are still well known. The exception to the one-hour time was the Writing test, which was divided into a 20-minute essay question and a 40-minute multiple choice section; it was discontinued after January 2005. A student may take up to three SAT Subject tests on any given date, which are the same dates as for the administration of the SAT Reasoning Test.
Resources (External Links)
Source: Dmoz ( Open Directory Project)
Collegeboard.com - Register online, prepare with real SAT questions, and get instant confirmation of test date and location.
FreeVocabulary.Com - 5000 vocabulary words for SAT preparation that can be viewed on-line or downloaded for free. MP3 audio version also free.
Ivy.com - Online test prep course.
Presentation Dynamics Inc. - Sells SAT flash cards.
SAT GRE Crash Course - SAT GRE Crash Course teaches 840 frequently appearing SAT and GRE words. It features a study level and five different learning levels.
SAT*Test - Online forum and information for all SAT subjects. Includes details of how to register for the SAT and test dates.
The Study Hall - Interactive test preparation, including verbal, math, and vocabulary instruction. Free speed reading, memory improvement, and college application and entrance tips.
Syvum - Interactive learning material for preparation of the verbal and math sections of the SATs.
TakeSAT - Provides information and sample questions for the SAT.
Taming the SAT - SAT preparation from the University of Southern California's Rossier School of Education, with workshops offered in Northern and Southern California and in the state of Washington
Test Prep SAT, PSAT, ARE - Offers comprehensive flashcard test prep study systems for the ARE and the SAT/PSAT.
Test Scholars - The Bay Area's Test Prep for over 15 years.
TopWords SAT Challenge - Free downloadable flash card style game from Huntington Learning Centers that is aimed to help high school students improve their SAT vocabulary scores.
The Wordsmyth S.A.T. Dictionary - Includes 2000 words commonly appearing words on the S.A.T.
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