The SAT Test in a Nutshell: What You Need to Know

SAT Test in a Nutshell


In January 2022, the College Board announced one of the most significant changes to the SAT Exam in 35 years: “The SAT is going Digital.”

This means that instead of bubbling their answers with a pencil on their answer sheets, students will take the tests on a laptop or tablet. However, this is not an at-home exam and would still be conducted in a testing center with a test proctor.

In addition, the test will be reduced from a three-hour to a two-hour length with fewer questions than the paper and pencil test, increasing the average time students can spend on an individual question.

Most importantly, the test is now becoming computer adaptive! The adaptiveness is from section to section meaning if a student performs well in the first section, then the second section will be harder but if a student performs poorly in the first section, then the second section will be easier.


A Quick Overview of the SAT Exam Structure

Reading and Writing Math
Administration  Two-stage adaptive test design: one Reading and Writing section administered via two separately timed modules  Two-stage adaptive test design: one Math section administered via two separately timed modules test
Test length (number of operational and pretest questions) 1st module: 25 operational questions and 2 pretest questions

2nd module: 25 operational questions and 2 pretests questions

1st module: 20 operational questions and

2 pretest questions

2nd module: 20 operational questions and

2 pretest questions time

Time per module  1st module: 32 minutes 2nd module: 32 minutes  1st module: 35 minutes 2nd module: 35 minutes 
Total number of questions  54 questions  44 questions 
Total time allotted  64 minutes  70 minutes 
Average time per question 1.19 minutes  1.59 minutes


Why the SAT Exam?

SAT: Standardized entrance exam for study abroad admissions, used globally by colleges. Multiple-choice and submit a response questions. Created and administered by the College Board.

The SAT plays a crucial role in measuring a high school student’s college readiness. It offers colleges a singular data point to make critical admission decisions among all their applicants. The SAT is taken into consideration along with the high school grades, Advanced Placement exams, extracurricular activities, personal essays, letters of recommendation from teachers, and admission interviews.

While the SAT is now optional in most schools, getting a high score can help you balance out your profile and showcase your potential to perform well in an undergraduate study thereby increasing your chances of admission.

According to the College Board, ‘more than 2.2 million students in 175 countries and territories take the SAT exam every year’.

Most colleges in the USA require an undergrad applicant to submit either the SAT score or the ACT score. In many other countries, several colleges either accept or require SAT scores for undergraduate admissions. While admissions committees do consider 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.

SAT is conducted 5 times a year in India. The test is generally administered in March, May, August, October, and December.

Find out more about the SAT Exam Dates 2023


When Is the SAT?

The SAT is conducted in March, May, August, October, and December. The new SAT would open up two more dates for international students. Students can appear for the tests in any of these months and they can appear for the tests as many times as it occurs in a year.

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Should I Take the ACT or the SAT?

Students all over the world take the SAT or the ACT depending on what they find as the right fit for them. Both the tests are competitive concerning the ease with which students can prepare for them and it is possible to prepare for both tests in a given time period.

However, if a student wants to pick one, then the best way to make a decision is by taking a timed full-length practice test of each type. Various factors like the time pressure and the types of questions that are the most challenging can help a student determine the best fit.


What SAT Score Do I Need to Get Into My School of Choice?

Though there are no typical standards for a “good” SAT score, a student should aim for 1200 and above. Getting a high SAT score of more than 1500 improves the chances of acceptance into the school of the student’s choice!

While the top universities look at a score of 1500 and above as competitive, different universities have varying expectations when it comes to SAT scores. The best way to determine this is to narrow down the universities that you most wish to attend and determine what scores they are looking for.


Why Was the SAT Introduced?

With the new SAT, the College Board aims to bring changes to the test experience that will make the test more student-friendly and secure while still keeping it relevant.

According to the College Board, in the new test-optional world, they want to make the SAT Exam the best available option for students. The SAT Suite of Assessments offers many features through which students can access information about colleges, educational prospects, and scholarship opportunities.


Which Colleges Require the SAT?

While most of the universities in the US have become test-optional, a good SAT score has been shown to correlate with higher acceptance rates at many of the top universities. Moreover, many of the schools in the USA still use test scores to decide on scholarships and admissions in an honors college. And some research universities like MIT still need students to submit their SAT/ACT scores.


Educational Eligibility Criteria

A valid Passport or Aadhar card is required for SAT eligibility. It should include a photograph, name, and signature. Any document that is ripped, worn, scuffed, or otherwise damaged will be rejected.


SAT Scholarship

The College Board India Scholars Program focuses on providing SAT scholarships to Indian students from low-income families who have a strong academic record. SAT scholarship for Indian students provides a full scholarship to students who scored 1300 on the SAT and whose income does not meet a certain threshold. When applying for admission, students can apply for scholarships.

The College Board has established the India Global Alliance in collaboration with Indian universities. Through the SAT scholarship, candidates can study at some of the best international universities in the world, including Cambridge, MIT, Columbia, and others.

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Universities Accepting SAT Scores in India

Nearly 35 universities in India accept SAT scores. Some universities accept it only for selective courses while others accept it for all of their courses. The courses could range from engineering to arts and these universities expect a score of 1350 and above from the students applying with the SAT.


Universities that Accept SAT Scores for all of their Degree Courses

  • Ashoka University
  • Azim Premji University
  • FLAME University
  • Jagdish Sheth School of Management
  • KREA University
  • Manav Rachna International Institute of Research and Studies
  • Plaksha University
  • Shiv Nadar University
  • Sri Sri University
  • Srishti School of Art Design and Technology
  • SRM Institute of Science and Technology
  • SRM University, AP – Amaravati
  • SRM University Delhi-NCR, Sonepat
  • Symbiosis Skills and Professional University
  • World University of Design


Universities that Accept the SAT Score for Selective Programs

University Programs That Accept SAT Scores
Ahmedabad University All except for B.Tech.
Bennett University B.Tech.
BML Munjal University B.Tech.
B.Sc. (Economics)
Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management (GITAM) All B.Sc./B.C.A./B.E.M. programs
All B.B.A. programs
B.Com. (Honors)
All BA programs
M.S. Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences B.Tech.
Pharm D.
B. Des.
B.Sc. (Honors)
B.Com. (Honors)
B.Sc. (Bio-Tech)
B.Sc. (Food Processing and Technology)
B.Sc. (Dialysis Therapy Technology)
B.Sc. (Medical Radiology and Imaging Technology)
B.Sc. (Cardiac Care Technology)
B.Sc. (Sports and Exercise Science)
B.Sc. (Optometry)
B.Sc. (Operation Theatre Technology)
Manipal Academy of Higher Education B.Sc. (Exercise and Sports Sciences)
B.Sc. (Health Information Management)
B.Sc. (Medical Imaging Technology)
B.Sc. (Perfusion Technology)
B.Sc. (Renal Replacement Therapy & Dialysis Technology)
B.Com. (Professional)
B.Com. (Business Process Services)
OP Jindal Global University All programs except for Law
SVKM’s NMIMS All courses in the following streams (schools):
EngineeringLiberal ArtsMathsEconomicsCommerce
Symbiosis International (Deemed University) Liberal Arts
Vellore Institute of Technology All except Engineering, Law, and Architecture programs


Number of Attempts for the SAT Exams

The College Board does not restrict the number of times that a student can take the SAT exam. This means that the student can take the exam as many times as they want in their lifetime. However, the test is administered 5 times in India at the moment which will go up to 7 times a year with the SAT. Hence, the student will be able to take the test only these many times in a year.


How to Cancel SAT Score?

If candidates are dissatisfied with their SAT results, they can cancel them. However, once they have requested cancellation, it cannot be reinstated or reported. You can cancel your SAT scores in two ways:


Option 1: SAT Test Center

  • After you’ve completed the test, ask for a request to cancel the test scores form.’
  • Before leaving, fill out the form and give it to the test coordinator.


Option 2: After leaving the SAT Test Center

The signed, written score cancellation form must be submitted by 11.59 p.m. ET on the Thursday following the test date. The form must be downloaded, completed, and faxed to the address.


How to Reschedule the SAT Exam?

To reschedule your SAT EXAM, students need to first cancel their existing test registration and then register for a new one. A fee of $25 is charged for canceling the registration by the deadline for change.


SAT Photo Requirements

As a part of the SAT Registration, the students are required to upload a photo onto the online application. This photo is used by the test center staff to verify a student’s identity against the photo ID carried by the student on the test date to ensure security.

If the uploaded photo does not match the one on the ID brought by the student on the test date, the student will not be allowed to take the exam. This means that the photo uploaded by the student should satisfy all the criteria mentioned at the time of uploading. That is, only the student must be in the picture, it should be visible, head and shoulders view, and the student must be completely in focus without any dark spots or shadows. A black-and-white photo is also acceptable.

Even if the photo is uploaded successfully, it does not mean that the student has uploaded the right kind of photo. It just means that the photo meets the file type and size requirements.

According to the file requirements, the photos can be in .jpg, .gif, or .png file formats.


SAT Payment Methods

The College Board allows payment through one of the following methods: International Credit cards: American Express, Discover, Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, and JCB.

PayPal: If the students do not have a PayPal account, it can be created before registration.


SAT Test Day Checklist​

The most important thing for you to carry on the test date is valid ID Proof (original Aadhar card or passport) to validate the student’s identity and the printed up-to-date Admission Ticket. The test staff checks the name on the admissions ticket against the one on the ID.

Besides this the students are advised to bring a;

  • Your fully charged testing device with the Bluebook™ application installed 
  • Face covering (if required at your test center).
  • Pencils or pens for scratch work.
  • An acceptable calculator for use on the Math section of the test (there will be an embedded graphing calculator available to use within Bluebook).
  • Epinephrine auto-injectors (like EpiPens) are permitted without an approved accommodation. They must be placed in a clear bag and stored under the student’s desk during testing. For policies on other medications and medical devices, contact Services for Students with Disabilities.


How is the SAT Scored?

The super score for the SAT is 1600. It has two sections: the Reading and Writing and the Math Section, each of which is scored out of 800.


How to Send SAT Scores?

When a student registers to take the SAT, he or she can send four score reports free of charge. The score recipients can be designated at the time of registration or until nine days after the student takes the exam.

After this period, to send the SAT score to a university, the student has to pay a fee of $12. To do so, the student has to sign in to the College Board account and select the colleges to send the scores to on the Send SAT Scores page. After searching for the universities by name or code and adding them to the recipient list, the student can make the payment and the College Board will initiate the score-sending process.


SAT Exam Preparation

The SAT exam is divided into two sections: Reading and writing, and Math. It is critical to target each section individually to achieve a higher score.

  • Make a strategy for each section
  • Begin with the simpler questions
  • Before the exam, take as many SAT practice tests as you can
  • Recognize your flaws and work to improve them
  • First, eliminate incorrect answers
  • Before answering, highlight the important parts of the question
  • Learn the fundamentals of grammar
  • If questions are taking too long, skip them
  • Most importantly, remain calm throughout and double-check your answers

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What is SAT Digital?

The new digital SAT exam will include some significant changes that will affect how students prepare for and take the test. The digital SAT will be computer-adaptive, which means that the difficulty level of questions in subsequent sections will be determined by your performance in the first section. If you do well in the first section, the second section’s questions will be more difficult.

How is the Digital SAT scored?

The digital SAT is still scored on a 1600 scale, and both the instructors and students can continue to monitor progress across the suite over time. The scores on the SAT will means the same thing as that on the digital SAT, this means a score of 1200 on the digital SAT corresponds to a score of 1200 on the paper and pencil SAT.


1600 99+ 1200 74 800 10
1500 99 1100 58 700 2
1400 94 1000 39 600 1
1300 87 900 23 500 1

Is Digital SAT acceptable?

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

How Important Is the SAT?

The SAT plays an important role in the college admissions process. They show the colleges your “college readiness”. Since the SAT has a strong predictive influence on a student’s future academic performance and universities use it as an indicator of your college success, getting a good SAT score improves your acceptance rate in a university.

Also, the SATs level the playing field since different high schools have different grading systems and some schools may grade more stringently than the others. SAT gives all the students an equal chance to showcase their ability on a common standardized platform.

Is the SAT Hard?

Well, It’s probably going to seem hard the first time you sit down to take it. But the more you study, the easier it gets. Knowing the format, pattern of the exam, and some strategies to deal with its favorite types of questions, can help you get on your way to your dream college and improve your score. The SAT is, in fact, a very learnable test.

Do colleges see all my SAT scores?

You are allowed to send your SAT scores to 4 colleges after your test. So, if you do avail that, those colleges will be able to see your scores. The good news is that College Board has an option called Score Choice, which allows students to only send scores that best reflect their ability. The bad news is that not all colleges participate in the Score Choice option.

How will the Digital SAT Impact my College Admissions?

  • A good digital SAT score will help you balance your profile and make your application more competitive just as the paper and pencil SAT did. 
  • The College Board has clearly stated in their communication that they have consulted with the higher education enrollment leaders on the use of the Digital SAT scores in exactly the same way that it did the paper and pencil SAT scores.
  • While the test is shorter, it maintains the integrity of the original SAT and the ability to measure a student’s performance by introducing the section adaptive system into the test. Also, the scoring system remains the same allowing both the tests to remain comparable.
  • Hence, taking one version of the test over the other will not have a major impact on your college applications.
  • Also, many colleges in the pandemic and the post-pandemic era have adopted a test-optional policy. The new shift to the Digital SAT has come with the idea of making the test more appealing in a test-optional situation where the student may or may not chose to write the test depending on the need for the college.


How will the digital SAT be different from the CURRENT paper and pencil SAT?

While there are many things that stay the same between the digital SAT and the Pencil and paper-based SAT, there are a few major changes that stand out in the new form of the test.

Tests a range of high school level math concepts and reading/writing skills Nothing new; some small changes in distribution and naming of concepts
Scored on a scale of 200-800 per section; 400-1600 overall No change; College Board to provide score linking
Total Testing Time ~3 Hours Total Testing Time reduced to ~2 Hours
Time intensive test: 1.17/question (average) More time per question: average 1.37 min/question (+17% more time)
Reading Intensive test: long reading passage (500-750 words) Shorter passages (25-150 words); math word problems also shortened.
Math includes a “no calculator” section Built-in calculator can be used for all math sections
Paper and Pencil Computer based test; range of student of center provided devices
Linear test; familiar correlation between correct answers and scores Adaptive by section; uncertainty around calculation of scores
Question formats unchanged since 2016 Single question, shorter passage reading questions; some other small changes
College Board practice resources: 10 Official released tests Some uncertainty around exact timing and quantity of practice resources
Familiar Timelines International testing, Digital PSAT, more school administration, etc.
Scored on a scale of 200-800 per section; 400-1600 overall No change; College Board to provide score linking

Is the Online Digital SAT difficult?

No, The majority of the student find Online Digital SAT relatively intuitive and simpler than offline SAT.

Can I now take the SAT Online?

The College Board announced on January 25, 2022, that the SAT would undergo significant changes, including becoming a computer-based test rather than a pencil-and-paper test.

What is SAT eligibility?

There are no SAT Exam eligibility criteria set by The College Board for taking the SAT exam. However, SAT is for admission to undergraduate programs, candidates need to appear for their SAT while in standard 10th, 11th or 12th.There is no minimum or maximum age limit for candidates wanting to register for the test.

How many times am I allowed to take the SAT?

You can take the SAT any number of times. But that doesn’t mean you do. What’s advisable is to take the SAT to a maximum of three times.

Is the SAT very difficult?

This differs from student to student. The SAT measures the reading skills, Grammar knowledge, and mathematical skills at the high school level only. But the Test is more testing your swiftness in answering questions accurately. So, the test needs preparation.

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