The Importance of Knowing What Will Be On the SAT

As SAT aspirants gear up for their upcoming exam, the stress levels must be high; all-nighters would be a daily phenomenon and sleep may have to wait until the end of the examinations. A good SAT score is the student’s gateway into the top universities in the USA. Having said this, one can gauge the importance of the exam along with knowing what kind of questions to expect.

SAT Exam Structure & Format

1. The Evidence-based Reading and Writing section

The Evidence-based Reading section of the SAT consists of 52 questions which need to be attempted in 65 minutes. The student is given five passages in total:

  • 1 passage on U.S. or world literature
  • 2 passages on history/social studies
  • 2 passages on science (which may include graphs and/or charts)

This section of the SAT tests two primary skills:

  • Command of Evidence: where the candidate’s ability to find concrete evidence within the passage to support the author’s claims is evaluated or answers to specific questions are asked
  • Words in Context: where the candidate’s ability to decipher the meanings of words within the context of the passage, along with his understanding of the influence of the word choice, style, and tone of the text is evaluated

The Evidence-based Writing section of the SAT consists of 4 passages which have 44 multiple choice questions that need to be attempted in 35 minutes.

The key to succeeding in the SAT is knowing the type of questions that are asked in the exam. Hence, solving past SAT papers and taking mock tests before the exam are the best ways to prepare for the exam.

2. The Mathematics section

The Mathematics section of the SAT is divided into two sections which need to be completed in 80 minutes. In the first section, the use of calculators is not permitted and students are given 25 minutes to solve 20 questions. In the second section, students have to solve 38 questions in 55 minutes and are allowed to use a calculator.

Since Mathematics is a concern for many students, being thorough with the course covered and with the type of questions asked is extremely important. Revise your basic Mathematics concepts, know your formulas thoroughly, and practice enough questions in the stipulated time.

3. The (Optional) Essay

In this section, the candidate is given a 650-700 word passage to read and then write an essay analyzing how the author constructed his or her argument as well as how persuasive the argument is. Unlike the essay section in the old SAT format, students are not expected to agree or disagree with the author’s views. This section is graded on three broad parameters:

  • Reading: which highlights the candidates’ overall understanding of the passage and how well they have used appropriate textual evidence to construct their essay.
  • Analysis: which shows how well has the candidate understood the construction of the author’s argument in terms of reasoning, style, and evidence.
  • Writing: which will depend on the candidates’ ability to write, the strength of their argument; the organization of thoughts and ideas; and candidates’ focus, tone, style, and adherence to standard English conventions.
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