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SAT Information

An Introduction to the SAT® 

The SAT was developed as a tool to democratize access to college for all students. Specifically designed to measure what students have learned in high school, the SAT tests students’ reading, writing and math skills — the same skills they’re learning in high school and that are essential to college success. In addition to measuring what students know, the test also shows how well students can apply their skills, which is critically important to colleges when evaluating undergraduate candidates.

Each year, the SAT is administered to more than two million students in more than 6,000 test centers that are located in more than 170 countries. It is also provided free of charge to hundreds of thousands of low-income students every year at a total cost of approximately $30 million to the College Board, underscoring a firm commitment to promote college access for ALL students.

Through the test’s 80-year history, the college landscape has changed significantly, but the SAT has continued to be a valuable tool used by colleges in the admissions process, providing an important measure of likely success among undergraduate candidates. Additionally, the SAT Program has maintained a firm commitment to offering the necessary support and resources for students to effectively prepare for the test, giving them an opportunity to enjoy access to higher learning.

The New SAT
You’re On Your Way

One of our biggest goals in changing the SAT was to make sure it’s highly relevant to your future success. The new test is more focused on the skills and knowledge at the heart of education. It measures:

  • What you learn in high school
  • What you need to succeed in college

If you think the key to a high score is memorizing words and facts you’ll never use in the real world, think again. You don’t have to discover secret tricks or cram the night before.

The same habits and choices that lead to success in school will help you get ready for the SAT. The best way to prepare for the test is to:

  • Take challenging courses.
  • Do your homework.
  • Prepare for tests and quizzes.
  • Ask and answer lots of questions.

In short, take charge of your education and learn as much as you can.

Practicing for the SAT

Because the SAT assesses what students have learned in high school and their ability to apply those skills, the most effective way for students to prepare for the test is to take challenging and rigorous courses, study hard, and read and write extensively. Independent research indicates that short-term test prep or “cramming” does not result in significant, if any, score gains.

In order for students to demonstrate their true abilities on test day, it’s important that students feel as comfortable and confident as possible. Taking practice tests can help students become familiar with the test and feel more at ease on test day. The College Board offers many free and low-cost SAT tools. 
Available SAT Practice Tools and Features

The following free and low-cost tools have been developed to give students an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the SAT and gain immediate feedback on areas to improve. To access all of these resources, students can go to www.collegeboard.com/practice.

• SAT Official Practice Test— Students can take practice SATs to see how they score and to identify ways to improve their results.

• SAT® Skills Insight™ — A free tool that helps students understand the academic skills tested on the SAT.

• My SAT Online Score Report — Students can learn the meaning behind the numbers to gain insight into their strengths and weaknesses.

• The Official SAT Study Guide™: Second Edition —Offers students an opportunity to take practice tests developed by the test maker, get estimated scores and review important test-taking approaches to effectively prepare for test day.

• The Official SAT Online Course™ — Students can benefit from interactive lessons, sample essays, personalized score reports and more.

• The Official SAT Question of the Day™ — An SAT question for every day of the year.

• Score Choice™ — Enables students to select which scores they send to colleges. 
Dispelling Myths About the SAT

The SAT is a proven tool that allows students to demonstrate what they know and what they are capable of achieving, yet there are many myths and misperceptions surrounding this test. In order to ensure that you, your students and their parents have the facts about this important college admissions tool, it’s important to correct this misinformation early on in the college planning process. Below is a quick guide highlighting common myths and corresponding facts that will arm you with the knowledge needed to address common concerns that arise during this critical period in a student’s academic career.

MYTH: The SAT is a logic test.

FACT: The SAT does not test logic abilities or IQ. It tests your skills in reading, writing and mathematics — the same subjects you’re learning in high school.

MYTH: Short-term prep is the best way to boost your score.

FACT: Quick prep courses can’t replace years of solid schoolwork. If you take rigorous, challenging courses in high school, you’ll be ready for the test.

MYTH: The SAT is tricky.

FACT: The SAT measures what you already know and how you can apply that knowledge. It isn’t designed to trick you.

MYTH: The SAT is expensive.

FACT: The standard registration fee for the SAT is the minimum required to cover administrative costs. A complete list of all current SAT fees can be found by visiting www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/calenfees/fees.html.

The College Board offers an extensive fee-waiver program to ensure that students who may be financially limited have access to the SAT. In addition, the SAT Program offers a wide range of tools and resources for students to prepare for the test, free of charge.

MYTH: Colleges have access to all students’ test scores.

FACT: Score ChoiceTM, a free, optional feature from the College Board, gives students an opportunity to choose which SAT scores are sent to colleges. Students’ scores will not be released for admissions purposes without their specific consent.

For more information on all the resources offered in support of the SAT, please visit www.collegeboard.org .

© 2009 The College Board. College Board, SAT and the acorn logo are registered trademarks of the College Board. achieve more, inspiring minds, Score Choice, Skills Insight, The Official SAT Online Course, The Official SAT Question of the Day and The Official SAT Study Guide are trademarks owned by the College Board. Visit the College Board on the Web: www.collegeboard.org