Are you sure about taking the SAT?
Just to be doubly sure, see if you can relate to the following traits:
  • You absolutely love books and reading is not just a hobby but is rather a habit
  • You can analyse fictional as well as non-fictional texts and can infer ideas with ease
  • Math is a subject you are not really scared of and can deal with it even without a calculator
  • Your vocabulary is more on the advanced level and is not rudimentary
  • You are good at reasoning
If you are still not sure about whether you should be taking the SAT or ACT, you should immediately take an ACT vs. SAT Diagnostic test and choose the right test.


What is the SAT all about?

SAT is a standardized test, administered by the College Board, taken by students seeking admission in undergraduate schools abroad (mainly in the U.S.and also Canada).

Test Fee: For Indian applicants, the fee for SAT (with written essay) is about $106(INR 7142) and around $94(INR 6334), without the essay

The SAT comprises of four sections: Reading, Writing and Language(Grammar), Math (Without calculator) and Math (With Calculator). The four sections are scaled to obtain a composite score out of 1600. There is also an optional SAT essay which is evaluated on the basis of three parameters- each parameter being scored out of 8. Just FYI, an average SAT score for Indian students is about 1200/1600.

Talking about the length of the test, the SAT is a 3-hour long test without the essay; however, if you are taking the SAT essay (which btw is recommended)- the test is a 3 hours 50 minutes long.

Each section of the SAT is timed. Here is the actual breakup of the time allotted for the four sections on the SAT:

SAT Reading Test - 52 Questions in 65 minutes
  • Break for 10 minutes
  • SAT Writing and Language Test - 44 questions in 35 minutes
  • SAT Math (No Calculator) - 20 questions in 25 minutes
  • BREAK- 5 minutes
  • SAT Math (With Calculator) - 38 questions in 55 minutes
  • SAT Essay (optional) - 50 minutes


What will you be tested on?

SAT comprises of four sections namely Reading, Writing and Language, Math (No calculator) and Math (with calculator). Let’s understand each section in detail.

SAT Reading Test

52 multiple- choice questions in 65 minutes.

The SAT Reading test contains 4 single and one set of paired passages. The five passages are usually drawn from U.S. and World literature, History/Social Studies, and Science. One set of History/Social Studies or Science passages will be paired.

The question types on the SAT Reading are shown below:

SAT- Reading

Information Ideas
  • Close Reading
  • Citing Textual Evidence
  • Global Inference and Command of Evidence Questions.
  • Understanding Relationship
  • Interpreting words & phrases in context
  • Detail, connection & Vocab. In Context Question
  • Analyzing Word Choice,text Structure point of view & purpose
  • Analyzing Multiple Texts and quantitative info
SAT Writing and Language

44 questions in 35 minutes

The SAT Writing and Language Test contains four single passages, one from each of the following subject areas: Careers, Humanities, History/Social Studies, and Science.

A more detailed syllabus of the SAT Writing and Language section is shown below

SAT - Writing & Language Test

Expression of Ideas
  • Development Organization & Effective Language Usage.
Standard English Convention
  • Development Organization & Effective Language Usage.
SAT MATH SECTIONS: No calculator and With Calculator

Math will be the third and fourth sections on the SAT, right after Reading and Writing & Language. You´ll first get a 25-minute section comprising of 20 questions, during which you can´t use a calculator.

After a short break, you´ll move onto the 55-minute section comprising of 38 questions. During this longer section, you´re allowed to use your calculator.

The SAT Math sections are broadly categorised into the following topics:

Heart of Algebra
  • Liner Equation and Inequalities
  • Polynomials & Factoring
  • Linear Functions and Functions Notation
  • Midpoint, Distance in Slope in x-y Plane
Additional Topics
  • Area & Volime
  • Geometrical relationships
  • Lines,Angles,Triangles
  • Polygons and Circles
  • Circle Equation and Graph
  • Complex Numbers
  • Trigonometric Functions and Graphs

SAT Math-No Calculator

Passport to Advanced Math
  • Zeros, Factors and Graph of Polynomials
  • Radical, Exponential and Fractional Equations
  • Quadratic Equations and Parabola, Vertex form
  • Nonlinear System of Equations
  • Transformations of Functions and their graphs

The essay test prompt will contain an article of about 650-750 words which aims to convince a large audience. Your task would be to analyze the elements that the author has incorporated in his writing- use of evidence, reasoning, style, persuasion or any other form of persuasive writing- and write an essay which clearly states how the author has built the argument.

The SAT Essay is scored based on the following three categories: Reading, Analysis, and Writing. Each of these categories is scored on a scale of 1 to 4 by two graders, hence giving a total essay score of 2 to 8 for each of the mentioned categories.


When should you be taking the SAT?

The SAT is conducted seven times a year, but the number of test date window for candidates outside the US is restricted to only 4. An Indian aspirant can take the SAT in any of the following months-October, December, March or May.

Following are the months when you should be targeting the first and second attempts of your SAT (ideal for Indian students).

  • If you are in Grade 10, you should take your SAT attempts between the months of October to December
  • If you are in Grade 11, you should take your SAT attempts between the months of July to October
  • If you are in Grade 12, you should anyhow take your SAT attempts before the month of October


How can you prepare for the SAT?

Ideally, the SAT requires a minimum of 3-4 months or 10 hours per week of extensive preparation. Within these 4 months, a student should strive to cover all the topics according to the SAT syllabus and then take as many SAT mock tests as possible (10 mock tests should be the minimum target).

Primarily, the SAT is a reasoning and logic test. It doesn´t test the most difficult concepts that a student will only learn in higher-level classes. Instead, it tests the ability to apply and reason through basic knowledge questions.

SAT Prep Plan: Self-study

Students who are self-motivated, disciplined, have an exceptional score on their PSAT (1450 and above out of 1520) and know the SAT pattern inside-out can go ahead and kick-start the SAT prep on their own. Just make sure you refer to the right books and study materials. However, it is advisable that you take up SAT mock test series from a coaching institute to make sure that you can better analyze your mistakes, get your doubts cleared, and get a sense of competition.

SAT Prep Plan: Classroom/Online coaching

The level of the SAT should not be underestimated. A student needs extra guidance when it comes to understanding and testing the concepts learnt. Self-prep, though useful, does not ensure that extra edge that SAT prep actually needs. Enrolling yourself in a coaching institute can help you become better prepared for the test as the coaching environment will leave no scope for indiscipline, give a sense of healthy competition, ensure that your weak subject areas are detected and rectified, ensure regular or weekly assessment/testing regime and above all, ensure that your SAT preparation is executed systematically.

The SAT course structure at Tutela is as follows:


  • Frequency: 4 classes per week, Class Duration: 2 hours each, Batch Size: Up to 6 students
  • Diagnostic Test to evaluate aptitude and test-taking skills before registration
  • A comprehensive set of study materials and assessments
  • Coverage of topics and contemporary methods to increase speed and accuracy
  • Intensive workshops before the actual test
  • Mock Tests followed by 1-on-1 exhaustive review and evaluation
  • Extended assistance even after course-completion

SATACT vs. SAT - Misconceptions

Common misconceptions revolving around the SAT

SAT tests high-level concepts

SAT is designed to test the reasoning and analytical skills of a student. It doesn´t test the most difficult concepts that a student will only learn in high-level classes. Instead, it tests the ability to apply and reason through basic knowledge questions.

SAT is a better option than the ACT in terms of college admissions

This a common perspective which bears no solid ground. For college admissions, SAT and ACT hold the same value. Both the SAT and the ACT are standardised tests and are internationally administered; hence, both are of equal importance.

The SAT English is a tough section

Though it is an indisputable fact that SAT Reading and language sections are a bit tough, they are not something that can stop you from getting a high score. If you are an ardent reader, SAT English should be an easy section to ace. You just need to work a bit more on your vocabulary and enhance your text analyzing skills.

I do not need to take the SAT Essay

Though optional in nature, the SAT essay should be taken by a student as there are a few colleges which stress on the essay scores. Above all, a good Essay score gives a boost to your college application. So why to leave any stone unturned?

Taking both the SAT and ACT will widen my admission options.

Well! This is not entirely a flawed perspective. Students do take both the tests to increase the scope of getting into a good college. However, it is not recommended to take both of these tests. One should check the admission criteria of the target universities/colleges to make sure that no such preference is established.

Furthermore, most colleges accept either ACT or SAT scores and have no preference in terms of the two tests. The ACT and SAT pattern are not entirely the same. Both require a different preparation strategy and skill set. Preparing for both can be intimidating and a difficult step. So why should you take both of these tests?

A smarter option would be to take up one of the two tests- deciding on the basis of the subject strengths, a skill set that better matches your strengths, and the testing pattern you are more comfortable with. Choosing one test out of the two can immensely ease the study burden and boost the chances of a high score.

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