What is the SAT?
The SAT is a globally recognized college admission test that lets you show colleges what you know and how well you can apply that knowledge.
It tests your knowledge of reading, writing and math — subjects that are taught every day in high school classrooms. Most students take the SAT during their junior or senior year of high school, and almost all colleges and universities use the SAT to make admission decisions.
Taking the SAT is the first step in finding the right college for you — the place where you can further develop your skills and pursue your passions. But SAT scores are just one of many factors that colleges consider when making their admission decisions. High school grades are also very important. In fact, the combination of high school grades and SAT scores is the best predictor of your academic success in college.
What does the SAT test?The SAT doesn’t test logic or abstract reasoning. It tests the skills you’re learning in school: reading, writing and math. Your knowledge and skills in these subjects are important for success in college and throughout your life.
- 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 questions on arithmetic operations, algebra, geometry, statistics and probability.
How can I do my best on the SAT?The best way to get ready for the SAT is to take challenging courses, study hard, and read and write in and outside of the classroom.
Studies suggest that cramming and short-term prep can’t substitute for hard work in school, but it’s certainly a good idea for you to become familiar and comfortable with the test format and question types. That’s why the best SAT practice is the PSAT/NMSQT®, which covers the same subjects under timed conditions.
You can also take advantage of our free online practice tools, such as an online or printable practice test, sample questions, The Official SAT Question of the Day™ and more.
Remember, a little practice goes a long way.
What is most important in college admission?The SAT is just one factor among many that colleges use to get to know you better. It’s best to keep the test in perspective and understand that it’s only part of a comprehensive admission process that also recognizes other factors, like extracurricular activities and personal recommendations.
Every college and university uses a different combination of criteria for admission. Feel free to reach out to the schools you’re interested in to understand their unique admission policies.
Which SAT questions make it onto the exam?Every SAT question goes through a very careful review process before making it into your exam booklet. Each question that you see has been:
- Reviewed by a team of experts, including math and English teachers, to make sure that it reflects what most college-bound students are learning in school.
- Thoroughly tested to make sure that it is fair for students of all backgrounds and ethnicities.
SAT Subject TestsSubject Tests are hour-long, content-based tests that allow you to showcase achievement in specific subject areas where you excel. These are the only national admission tests where you choose the tests that best showcase your achievements and interests.
SAT Subject Tests allow you to differentiate yourself in the college admission process or send a strong message regarding your readiness to study specific majors or programs in college. In conjunction with your other admission credentials (your high school record, SAT scores, teacher recommendations, etc.), they provide a more complete picture of your academic background and interests.
Some colleges also use Subject Tests to place students into the appropriate courses. Based on your performance on the test(s), you could potentially fulfill basic requirements or receive credit for introductory-level courses.
There are 20 SAT Subject Tests in five general subject areas: English, history, languages, mathematics and science. Try the free practice questions or download the Getting Ready for the SAT Subject Tests practice booklet.
The SAT Reasoning Test, commonly called the "SAT" was previously known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Assessment Test.
SAT Contact InformationFor more: official SAT homepage
Frequently Asked Questions: SAT FAQs; and SAT Subject Tests FAQs
College Board: official College Board homepage
Related: Learn about The ACT test