As we enter into the "thick" of the SAT preparatory time period and actual test-taking season, many college-bound students find that they are struggling to find time to study for this critically important endeavor.
At many college institutions, the student's SAT results are worth their weight in gold, meaning that the majority of colleges place a high level of importance on this exam. The amount of pressure this places on the high school student, usually a junior, is incredible, to say the least.
The more a student understands the SAT, the more confident and prepared he or she will feel.
We first must understand some basics regarding the SATs. The abbreviation SAT stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test until 1999, when it was decided by professionals in the field of education that the name was not a good reflection of what the test actually stood for.
The abbreviation SAT has remained in the name, but Reasoning Test has been added. Each year there are about 1 million high school students who take the SAT.
The test takes roughly 3 hours and 45 minutes with scheduled breaks of 10 minutes between sessions. There are many testing centers throughout the state, and testing occurs on Saturdays.
In some instances, a student may request to take the exam on a Sunday if the request involves a religious observance.
Testing is offered each month on the same date nationally between October and June. The basic fee for the test is $47.
This price includes reports to the student, student's high school and up to four colleges and scholarship programs. There are additional fees for late registrations and changing test centers or test dates.
Now let's look at the individual components of the test. There are three sections that SAT encompasses. They are critical reading, math and writing. The majority of the test is composed of multiple-choice questions and about one-third of the writing portion is based on a 25-minute essay.
In the critical reading portion of the test, students will be examined on sentence completion and reading comprehension. The math portion will encompass geometry, algebra, numbers and operations, statistics and data analysis.
The writing portion will consist of an essay, identifying sentence errors, and improving sentences and paragraphs. There is an additional section that is experimental, and involves math, writing and critical reading. This section is used for research and development for future test questions.
The essay section is always administered first and the final section that is administered and scored is the writing questions.
The scoring of the SAT is based on the three sections in the test. A total of 800 points is available for each section, making the complete test worth 2,400 points. Students gain one point for each correct answer and lose one-quarter point for each wrong answer, except for the grid-in questions, where they lose nothing for a wrong answer.
Any questions that are left blank will result in no points being lost.
The student will normally receive test results three weeks after taking the test. Test results can be retrieved by using the Internet, as well as being mailed directly to the student's home. It is important for the student to know what their prospective college's minimum SAT score is and what the average acceptance score is weighted at.
In the next article, we will begin to focus on the dynamics of preparing for the SAT and what students need to know on test day.
Cordell is the owner of Excell Tutoring Services, 346 Broad St., Montoursville. He may be reached at 506-9998 or firstname.lastname@example.org.