SAT for Indian Students: A Guide to Preparation and Application


The SAT will be taken by millions of students outside the US beginning in March of 2023. This examination is a standardized test that students are expected to qualify to be able to be admitted into Universities abroad, more specifically the US.

This test is taken in English, a language well-known by most people across the globe. However, there are issues that students, especially one of Indian origin, tend to face during the SAT preparation & while appearing for the SAT examination.

Let’s begin by understanding the different sections of the SAT.

There are 2 Sections

  • Verbal ( Reading & Writing )
  • Math (Algebra, Advanced Math, Problem-solving & Data Analysis, Geometry & Trigonometry)

What poses a challenge in the SAT? The test is not a linear test. It is a multistage adaptive test and hence the score obtained by a student will depend on the number of difficult questions the student has attempted and got right. So how do we get to see more difficult questions? Again, this also depends on how the student answers the questions appearing in module 1 of the verbal and math sections. So the first challenge to be faced is to get the maximum number of questions right in the first module of both sections.


Challenges in the Verbal section

All questions in the verbal section will be discrete and independent. There will be no reference to a common stimulus such as an extended passage. With the limited words in a short passage, the student should be able to arrive at the right answer. The focus is more on high-order reading, writing analysis, and reading.

The SAT eliminates the possibility of one question interacting with the other and inadvertently cluing the answer. Students cannot use strategies that intend to circumvent the rigor by not reading the entire stimulus and focusing only on reading the portion related to answering the question.

Reading online is something that Indian students are not familiar with. While students are tech-savvy, academic reading online is not something that the children of today may be used to. Reading from a book and reading online is completely different and while attempting to ace a test under the pressure of time it is extremely important to practice reading and answering comprehension questions online. Scrolling through passages is not something that is comfortable especially when you have not practiced reading online.

Annotation, marking phrases, underlining clues, etc is easy when done on paper, but doing the same thing in an online examination needs meticulous and consistent practice. Effective use of the tools available on the SAT is another key element to being able to ace the test within the given time available. Remember, while the goal is to see harder questions to be able to get the highest score, it is also important to remember that the time to solve hard questions remains the same. Pacing and Accuracy come with practice.

The verbal section has 2 modules with 25 operational or scored questions and 2 pre-test or unscored questions each.


Mathematics Section

Indians have innate knowledge when it comes to Mathematics. Indian students are automatically inclined towards the subject. Often, even at their worst, they seem to perform better than students from other countries. Although the Mathematics syllabus for the SAT exam is comparatively easier, the other big advantage that the SAT comes with is the option to use the calculator throughout the entire math section.

This section has 20 operational or scored questions and 2 pretest or unscored questions. Although this is relatively easier, the issue with time management remains. Should you be using the calculator for each and every question in math? Using calculators can be immensely time-consuming as all the numbers are to be typed. A quick revision is required to ensure that all the data entered are accurate. Upon receiving the result, a close introspection is expected to make sure the answer acquired is correct. All of this takes up unnecessary time. Students are advised to use calculators as rarely as possible. This saves them valuable time.

The math section will cover 30% of the question which would be context related and 70% would be without context. Student-produced responses or questions where the student will have to enter the value in the space provided and will not have options to choose from will have to be entered without any errors and will also have to follow the specific characters required for positive numbers and negative numbers. The right understanding of how to enter the correct answer for these question types is important. The smallest error in updating the answer would impact the score in the math section.

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Know the SAT’s Exam Pattern

Category Reading & Writing  Math
Format  2-stage adaptive test design  2-stage adaptive test design
# questions  1st module – 25 operational questions & 2 pre test questions 

2nd module – 25 operational questions & 2 pretest questions

1st module – 20 operational questions & 2 pre test questions 

2nd module – 20 operational questions & 2 pretest questions

Time per stage 32  minutes per module 35 minutes per module
Total # questions  54 44
Total time  64 minutes  70 minutes
Time per question 1.19 minutes 1.59 minutes


6 Best Study Tips to Achieve an SAT Score of 1500+

Tip #1. Familiarity With the SAT Test Pattern and Questions

The SAT will be administered in two hours rather than three, with shorter reading passages and one question for each. Because each student will receive a unique version of the test, the SAT will be more flexible and secure. This will avoid the unpleasant experiences of papers being leaked or cheating!


Tip #2. Join An Online SAT Prep Course

Manya – The Princeton Review’s SAT Online coaching has the most effective collection of personalized products and services. Sophisticated test-prep technology on an exclusive online platform is user-friendly and accessible anywhere and anytime.

Our smart, passionate, and motivated teachers are simply the best, making the session lively and connecting easily. Thorough content with proprietary strategies in the SAT preparation helps you to achieve your target score.


Tip #3. Never Deviate From the Techniques or Strategies Learned

During your SAT preparation classes, a lot of techniques and approaches will be taught to you. And every question type will have a distinct way to solve quickly and accurately.


Tip #4. Practice, Practice, Practice

Your test of endurance in the 2 hours and 14 mins test lies in the number of tests you take during your SAT exam preparation.


Tip #5. Test Analysis And Error Logs

  • Why did the error happen?
  • Was it a careless error?
  • Did you not know the concept or technique behind it?
  • Did you spend a lot of time on it?
  • Did you follow the approach staunchly?
  • Was it a guess?
  • Were the mistakes more on the Verbal section or the Math section?
  • If on the verbal, were there more mistakes in Reading or Writing & Language?
  • Similarly, if the mistakes were more on Math, in No-Calculator or calculator?
  • Were any errors made while bubbling the answers on the scantron sheet?
  • Were all questions attempted or were there blanks?


Tip #6. Balance Pacing And Accuracy

Remember, you need not get all the questions right in module 1 to be able to get a high order of difficulty questions in module 2. But to get a 1500+ on the test you need to make sure you ace all the hard questions too. To be able to do this, you need to ensure your pacing and accuracy go hand in hand. Playing on your strengths is key.


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How is the Digital SAT different from the SAT paper?

In terms of reading and writing the passages are cut and short which is only 1-3 paragraphs with only one question for each paragraph, rather than the offline SAT paper thus this one of the basic differences between Digital SAT and SAT paper.

What is the total question in the 1600 marks SAT paper?

The SAT test in each section, reading has 52 questions while the writing section has 44 questions. In math a total of 58 questions in 1600 marks SAT paper.

Is 880 a good score for admission to a college?

On average, the 880 score is considered an average SAT score, but there are many colleges in the USA that intake students with low or average SAT scores.

Is Digital SAT acceptable?

Yes, Digital SAT is acceptable. SAT college admission exam to go digital and shorter, and Calculators to be allowed too.

Can Indian Students Appear for SAT?

Yes, The College Board India Scholars Program offers Indian students to take the SAT. Especially the weaker students, they can practice and register for the SAT online.

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