Cracking the SAT


The SAT is used as a predictor to determine how well students will perform in college. Almost all top US universities need the SAT for admissions to a bachelor’s degree programme. Th e SAT Subject Tests, on the other hand, are required to be taken by a few very competitive universities in the US. While the SAT is a general test of English and math, the SAT subject tests, as the name suggests, are subject specific. Hence, a student can take the SAT subject tests in physics, chemistry, biology, math, English literature, languages and so on. Previously, one could refer to the SAT as SAT I and the SAT Subject Tests as SAT II. However, College Board, the body conducting these exams, has dropped the ‘I’ and ‘II’ and now the exams are just referred to as SAT and SAT Subject Tests. “Th e SAT measures what you have learnt in school and how well you can apply that knowledge. It assesses how well you analyse and solve problems. SAT scores are used for the purpose of college admission because the test predicts college success. The SAT Subject Tests are primarily multiple choice tests in specific subjects, and take an hour to finish. SAT Subject Tests measure knowledge or skills in a particular subject and your ability to apply that knowledge,” states the College Board website.
The universities which require SAT Subject Test results generally ask students to take the two subject test papers. Th e SAT and SAT Subject Tests have the same test dates. Hence, a student has to choose between the two exams and cannot do both on the same test date. If you decide to take the SAT Subject Tests, you can do a maximum of three subject tests in one sitting.

The SAT comprises three sections – math, writing and critical reading.
Math: Topics include functions, data analysis and other college math topics.
Critical Reading: Includes sentence completion and reading comprehension questions.
Writing: Is about writing a reasoning essay and improving sentences and paragraphs.
Duration: 3 hours 45 minutes.
Cost: $102 (approximately `4,557)
Maximum Score: 2400 and an essay score of 12.

The SAT Subject Tests are subject-specific (chemistry, physics, math, literature and so on).
Duration: Generally one hour for each Subject Test.
Cost: $108 (approximately `4,825) for three tests (not including any language tests).
Maximum Score : 800 in each Subject Test.

Students can get free practice material on the SAT and SAT Subject Tests on

If you plan to adopt a self-study programme, this sample study format is a good way to proceed:
Week 1
Go through the Barron’s SAT book and start with improving your vocabulary. Don’t just memorise words, instead, make associations with words, in order to help you remember.

Week 2
Revise your math concepts. Dig out your class 10 and class 11 books to brush up on your basics.

Week 3
Dedicate this entire week to grammar concepts. Refer to the ETS Official Guide along with the Kaplan SAT Writing Workbook.

Week 4
Now that your vocabulary is stronger, start with the sentence completion section of the verbal portion of the test. Practice using the Official Guide to the SAT.

Week 5
Start practicing math problems topic by topic and identify the areas where you need more practice. You can consider using a book such as the Barron’s Math Workbook for the New SAT.

Week 6
Progress to the critical reading section. Again, you can practice using the Official Guide to the SAT.

Week 7
Practice mixed math problems in all topics. Identify your weak areas and focus more on functions, probability and permutations; work on your speed.

Week 8
Start penning down your views by practicing the essay section. Refer to the ETS Official Guide.

Week 9
Go ahead and appear for the section tests under time constraints.

Week 10
Now you are ready to practice an entire SAT exam from the Official Guide to SAT at one stretch. Make sure that there are no distractions around you and time yourself. Try to finish one test per day. Use your free time to work on your weak areas.

Week 11
Even though the SAT is a paper-based test, you can practice the exam online on various websites such as

Week 12
Continue taking full-length SAT tests. Don’t forget to revise your word lists and grammar rules. Now that you are ready you can confidently appear for the SAT. All the best!

Barron’s SAT Book

ETS Offi cial Guide

Kaplan SAT Writing Workbook

Barron’s Math Workbook for the new SAT

Official Guide to the SAT

Volume 1 Issue 3


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