About The SAT Test

If you’re wondering what the letters S-A-T stand for, they do not stand for anything! 

This wasn’t always the case: when College Board introduced the SAT in 1926, the exam was called the Scholastic Aptitude Test.  Since then, it has been through changes both in name and content. In 1990, it was renamed the Scholastic Assessment Test.  In 1994, the College Board announced that SAT no longer had any expansion and changed the name of test to SAT I: Reasoning Test. In 2004, the Roman numeral was dropped. Now the test is called the SAT Reasoning Test, popularly called   the ‘SAT’.

The changes make for a fascinating story; one that is rooted in the history of the exam. The exam was originally devised as a sort of an ‘intelligence test’. It was supposed to measure ‘aptitude’, which was considered an innate quality almost akin to a person’s height or hair color. The test makers asserted that students could not ‘prepare’ for the SAT.  Test-takers and parents did not agree! If test results were important, they were going to prepare for the test and do as well as they could. It soon became clear that, as with anything in life, hard work and diligent preparation helped get great SAT scores.

The College Board and the ETS could not continue saying that the SAT was ‘uncoachable’; the assertion was ridiculous. Hence the first change in name, from Scholastic Aptitude Test to Scholastic Assessment Test. But Assessment and Test mean the same thing’ –calling the test the Scholastic Assessment Test was like calling it the Scholastic Test Test! Finally, the College Board solved the problem by just saying that SAT has no expansion.


According to College Board, ‘more than 2 million students in 175 countries and territories take the SAT every year’.  Most colleges in the USA require applicants for undergraduate admission to submit either SAT or ACT scores. In the rest of the world too, many colleges either accept or require SAT scores for undergraduate admissions. While admissions committees do consider many other factors: including grades, transcripts, essays, extra-curricular activities,  and contribution to the community, the SAT score is a critical criterion to get into a competitive undergrad school.

A quick overview of the SAT structure:

  Number of sections & duration Question types Total number of questions
Critical Reading Two 25 minute sections
One 20 minute section
Sentence completions
Passage-based reading
Math Two 25 minute sections
One 20 minute section
Grid-in questions
Writing One 25 minute Essay
One 25 minute Grammar section
One 10 minute Grammar section
Essay writing
Improving sentences
Error Ids
Improving paragraphs
49 ; 1 essay

Taking the SAT

The SAT is offered on 6 days in January, May, June, October, November and December.  You can take either the SAT or 3 SAT Subject tests in one test administration.

Try our free Princeton Review Assessment Test here. Click here

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