College Confidential stands united with African American students and their families against racial injustice and in pursuit of higher education and equality in America. She'll be attending Northwestern to study Computer Science. Consult these quick resources to get you started on the process this month. As we work to adjust to the current reality, make sure to check out these dedicated COVID resources : our directory of virtual campus tours , our directory of extended deadlines , as well as the list of schools going test optional this fall. I hope you find this guide to be helpful for whatever purpose you exploit it. July edited January
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College Confidential stands united with African American students and their families against racial injustice and in pursuit of higher education and equality in America. She'll be attending Northwestern to study Computer Science. Consult these quick resources to get you started on the process this month. As we work to adjust to the current reality, make sure to check out these dedicated COVID resources : our directory of virtual campus tours , our directory of extended deadlines , as well as the list of schools going test optional this fall.
I hope you find this guide to be helpful for whatever purpose you exploit it. July edited January Post edited by silverturtle on January July It functions primarily as a factor in admission to American colleges and universities, though it is offered internationally as well.
The test is jointly developed and administered by professionals employed by two non-profit groups: the College Board and the Educational Testing Service ETS.
The CR section breaks these questions into three sections: one of 20 minutes and two of 25 minutes. The Math section of the SAT is also 70 minutes long and spread out over three sections; likewise, two of these are minutes sections, and one is 20 minutes long.
There are 54 questions: 44 multiple-choice questions and 10 free-response i. The SAT Writing section, added in , is a slightly shorter 60 minutes, which is broken into three sections one minute essay section to commence the test, a minute section, and a refreshingly brief minute section to round out the SAT.
There are 25 Improving Sentences questions, 18 Identifying Errors questions, 6 Improving Paragraphs questions, and the essay. Also including an unscored experimental section of any subject, the SAT totals three hours and 45 minutes in length plus a couple breaks ; part of the test's difficulty comes from the endurance required to maintain focus for this long. The College Board and ETS take considerable steps to attempt to ensure that the questions serve as accurate assessments of students' ability; see here for details on the thorough review process that each question undergoes before it appears on an actual test.
There are, however, significant disparities in student performance among certain groups. Consider, for example, the shockingly strong correlation between SAT score and income level. Now, we cannot infer bias from this correlation alone. After all, there is no inherent reason that students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds should not be able to show their skills on the test. However, there are some insurmountable factors that disproportionately disadvantage low-income students with respect to what is tested on the SAT: they are likely less exposed to the upper-level vocabulary tested on the SAT, and they are more likely than high-income students to attend underperforming schools.
Another commonly cited explanation for the gap in performance among income levels is that high-income students attend preparatory classes in disproportionately high numbers, thereby giving them an unfair advantage. Indeed, I have no doubt that this is a factor; but, for the most part, it does not need to be. More on utilizing that book later. Though not nearly as dramatic as the aforementioned income-level score disparity, there are slight differences in performance by gender on the SAT.
Males' average score out of on the SAT is ; that of females is This, though, does not explain the gap that persists and even exaggerates at the top end of the scores. In fact, by the time we reach , the gap is quite pronounced: the percentage of male test-takers who receive this perfect composite score is 87 percent greater than the percentage of female test-takers who achieve this feat. Note that here, as well as in the rest of this guide, I distinguish between percentage points and percent.
This gender-performance gap had been even more pronounced before the introduction of the SAT Writing section; some even cite this as one of the reasons for the section's inclusion on the test.
With regard to specific section disparities, here are the facts. On Critical Reading, males average , and females average ; on Math, males average , whereas females average ; on Writing, males average , and females average Despite these performance disparities, there is little direct evidence that questions are unfairly biased against a particular gender.
Unfortunately, SAT performance is marked by significant racial performance gaps. These sum to approximately the 24th percentile.
These sum to approximately the 44th percentile. These sum to approximately the 64th percentile. These sum to approximately the 33rd percentile. These sum to approximately the 31st percentile. These sum to approximately the 59th percentile. Luckily, however, these gaps may be lessening with time. What does the SAT test? Does it test what I have learned in school, or how smart I am?
Some of both. Although there is certainly some overlap, the ACT functions primarily to indicate what has been learned, whereas the SAT serves as an indicator of the test-taker's capacity to learn.
Nonetheless, there are some aspects of the SAT that are indisputably dependent on a student's previous exposure to material, such as the Sentence Completion questions which usually require that one be familiar with the words being tested and a few of the Math questions.
Even these exceptions, however, are not purely knowledge-based: one's ability to learn and apply vocabulary is influenced by his or her intelligence, and almost every Math question on the SAT can be solved logically or by smartly applying the given equations. In general, very little previous knowledge is actually required for success on the SAT. Knowing grammar rules for the Writing section is decidedly helpful, though; I discuss and exploit this for your benefit later.
First, the SAT is an adequate measure of general intelligence, and second, it is a useful tool in predicting cognitive functioning when other estimates of intelligence are unavailable, too time-consuming, or too costly. I have come to think of the SAT I as analogous to specialized drills that a concert pianist might use.
The SAT I tests very specialized skills that can be mastered through a combination of talent and effort. So you master the drills by rote repetition and focused practice, with great attention to developing good technique.
Some people are able to master the drills on their own, yet others hire teachers to push, correct, and direct them. Some master the drills after 10 practice sessions, others might take dozens. When people say "I don't test well" they are saying they haven't figured out their path to mastering the drills. Someone could master the drills and never really be a creative and expressive performer. But the majority of the top quality performers are capable of the discipline that both allows and comes from mastering the drills.
Hopefully the drills have been designed so that the techniques they demand are foundational to creative performance. And schools base their admission evaluations on applicants' mastery of these drills because they believe--rightly or wrongly--that it is part of the data that helps them identify students with the potential to perform. They are drills, and nothing more. They are neither your identity nor your future.
And they are certainly not a measure of your self worth. Nunnally and Bernstein provided guidance in the interpretation of the reliability coefficient by stating that a value of.
General Strategies For the most part, these suggestions apply similarly to Subject Tests. Try to zone out everything around you, realizing that for the four hours that you take the SAT, the test booklet in front of you is the only thing that matters. Ignore the consequences. Put all future consequences out of your mind and try to treat each problem as a fun challenge.
The answers have already been determined. Maybe this is a mere idiosyncrasy, but realizing that the answers are sitting somewhere at the College Board has always helped me. Visualization Visualizing your taking the test beforehand is quite helpful in facilitating focus and equanimity. Find the appropriate balance between calmness and arousal. Of course, you do not want to be panicked during the SAT. But this should not be taken too far: a moderate level of arousal is necessary to keep your concentration and pace.
There is no general rule here; experiment with various levels of arousal and techniques to achieve and maintain that, and go with what works for you. See this for more on the delicate arousal-performance relationship.
Don't harbor negative feelings toward the test. Such an attitude makes you do badly. Logistics With regard to sleep the night before the test and what one should eat the morning of the test, there is likewise no meaningful, generally applicable rule. Instead, each test-taker should go with what feels right for him or her.
However, there are a few helpful guiding principles: you'll probably want to eat what you normally eat except perhaps if you do not ordinarily eat breakfast ; get some sleep, but do not oversleep it may be better to receive a slightly less-than-ideal amount of sleep than to have overslept.
Here are the items that you will want to have with you when you take the test adapted in part from here : Your admission ticket, which you should have printed. The College Board recommends bringing two, but that seems like too few to me. I would go with at least four; better safe than sorry. A photo ID. This one is often overlooked by students. An acceptable calculator. If you are comfortable with graphing calculators, bring one, as they are occasionally helpful in solving difficult questions in unconventional ways.
If, though, graphing calculators are mostly foreign to you, do not use the night before the test to familiarize yourself with a new calculator. And don't bother saving vocabulary lists to your calculator's memory: calculators are, of course, allowed on only the Math section. Familiarize yourself with a silent watch with a timer prior to test day. You do not want to have to rely on the testing center's clock.
Omitting Questions Because I lose points for incorrectly answering questions as opposed to omitting them, when should I guess on questions that I'm not sure about? The oft-cited advice is that, as long as you can eliminate one or more possible answer choices, guessing is your best bet.
Indeed, given the deduction of. There are some exceptions to this rule, though. There are some times when you should guess more liberally than that principle suggests. Very rarely do students truly have no idea about which of the choices is correct.
Silverturtle's Guide to SAT and Admissions Success
This website is a guide to elite college admissions, primarily focusing on SAT preparation, but also covering the rest of the application process. The intended audience is high schools students looking to get into Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc, but it is beneficial to anyone who wants to boost their SAT score or put together a more compelling college admission package. Ready to get started? Check out the Introduction. The information has been used by many high school students over the years to massively boost their SAT scores and get into elite schools. No attempt is made at attribution but there is Resources section at the end where you can see some of the original sources.