What are SAT Percentiles?

March 16, 2009 by  
Filed under All Posts, FAQs, SAT Unlocked

SAT Percentiles tell you the percentage of SAT test takers you performed better than. For example, if your score is in the 75th percentile, you performed better than approximately 75 percent of students who took the test.

Although percentiles for each SAT subject vary from test to test, scores generally break down into the following percentiles:

Notice that there is a 50 percentile jump between 500 and 700.

As you can see, improving your SAT score by even just a few points can have a big impact on your overall percentile rank.

From my SAT training guide: SAT Unlocked.

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Can I use a calculator on the SAT?

March 12, 2009 by  
Filed under All Posts, FAQs

Yes.   The SAT allows these calculators for use on the Math sections of the test:

  • four-function calculators
  • scientific calculators
  • graphing calculator

While the SAT allows scientific and graphing calculators, a simple, four-function (+, -, X, / ) calculator is all you really need for the SAT I.

Calculators you CANNOT use:

X pocket organizer
X hand-held or laptop computer
X electronic writing pad or pen input device
X calculator with a QWERTY (typewriter-like) keypad
X calculator with paper tape
X calculator that makes noises or “talks”
X calculator that requires an outlet

40px-face-winksvgTip:
Check your batteries!

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How is the SAT Organized?

March 4, 2009 by  
Filed under All Posts, FAQs, SAT Organization

The SAT is organized into 10 individually tested sections:

  • 3 Writing
  • 3 Critical Reading
  • 3 Math
  • 1 Equating (does not count toward your score).

    1. The Essay always comes FIRST (SAT Section 1).
    2. Next, six 25-minute multiple choice sections in random order (SAT Sections 2-7): Two Critical Reading, two Math, one Writing, and (usually) the Equating section.
    3. Then two 20 minute sections (SAT Sections 8 & 9): Critical Reading and Math.
    4. Finally, a 10 minute Writing section is always LAST (SAT Section 10).

    The chart below shows you the total number of each question type for each SAT subject.

    From my SAT training guide: SAT Unlocked.

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    How are SAT Critical Reading Sections Organized?

    February 24, 2009 by  
    Filed under All Posts, FAQs, SAT Organization

    SAT Critical Reading consists of 67 questions in three sections:

    SAT Critical Reading (CR) tests 3 types of questions:

    • 19 Sentence Completions (SC)
      A sentence with one or two words missing. Choose which missing word(s) that best complete the sentence.  Sentence Completion questions appear in order of difficulty.
    • 8 Short Passage (SP)
      A one paragraph passage to read and interpret. Questions can also compare two passages.  Short Passage questions do NOT appear in order of difficulty.
    • 40 Long Passage (LP) A multiple paragraph passage to read and interpret. Questions can also compare two passages. Long Passage Reading questions do NOT appear in order of difficulty.

    Notice that unlike Sentence completions, Passage Reading questions do NOT appear in order of difficulty. This means that easy questions can often be waiting for you at the end of each Critical Reading section.

    40px-face-winksvgTip: Always make sure to finish the entire Critical Reading section so you can answer easy questions that may be at the end. The big temptation on the Critical Reading section is to spend too much time on the shorter Sentence Completion questions at the beginning, and not leave enough time for the Long Passage questions, which take more time to read but often include easier questions near the end.

    For more on Critical Reading timing strategies, click here.

    From my SAT training guide: SAT Unlocked.

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    How are SAT Math Sections Organized?

    February 19, 2009 by  
    Filed under All Posts, FAQs, SAT Organization, SAT Unlocked

    SAT Math consists of 54 total questions tested in three sections.

    SAT Math includes 2 types of questions:

    • 44 Multiple Choice (MC): Typical SAT question with 5 answer choices.
    • 10 Grid-In (GI): Enter an actual value on your answer sheet, instead of simply filling in a multiple choice oval.

      SAT Math questions appear in order of difficulty from easiest at the beginning to hardest at the end. In the section with Grid-In questions, the Multiple Choice questions end with hard questions and then the Grid-Ins start over with easy questions.

      40px-face-winksvgTip: The harder the question, the less obvious the answer. Because questions at the beginning of the section are easier, the answer choices tend to be straightforward. However, as the section progresses, the test makers throw in trick answers to try to fool you. At the beginning of a section, the most obvious answer is usually the right one. Near the end of the section, the most obvious answer is often the wrong one.

      From my SAT training guide: SAT Unlocked.

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      What is an Equating Section?

      January 28, 2009 by  
      Filed under All Posts, FAQs

      What is an Equating Section?
      The SAT includes an additional experimental or ‘Equating’ section that does not count toward your final score. The Equating section is designed to test out new questions and to compare the performances of current students with those of previous test takers. The Equating section can test any of the three subjects (Critical Reading, Writing, or Math) and usually appears between SAT sections 2 and 7 (the 25 minute multiple choice sections).

      Do NOT try to guess which section is the Equating section.
      Trying to ‘game’ which section is experimental can get you into real trouble. When taking the SAT, always assume every section counts.

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      Is SAT Math very advanced?

      January 26, 2009 by  
      Filed under All Posts, FAQs, SAT Unlocked

      Is SAT Math very advanced?
      No. The concepts tested on the SAT math sections are all fairly basic. The most advanced math you need to know is basic Geometry and some Algebra II. As a matter of fact, a students often find that the biggest difficulty on the math section is remembering some of the concepts they learned in grade school but have now forgotten (like ‘remainders‘).

      Remember. the SAT uses basic math concepts to test your reasoning skills.
      The SAT does not actual test your overall knowledge of math all that much. Instead, the SAT primarily tests your ability to figure out which basic math concepts to apply and how to apply them.

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      What Should I Bring on Test Day?

      January 11, 2009 by  
      Filed under FAQs

      What to bring to the SAT on test day:

      SAT Admission Ticket

      Photo ID

      No.2 Pencils (no mechanical pencils)

      Calculator (check your batteries!)

      Snacks & Drink (during breaks)

      Watch (turn off the alarm)

      Earplugs

      Backpack (to put everything in)

      What you may NOT bring to the SAT (according to the College Board):

      X scratch paper

      X notes, books, dictionary

      X compass, protractor, ruler, or any other aid

      X highlighter or colored pencils

      X portable listening or recording devices

      X camera or other photographic equipment

      X timer or watch with audible alarm.

      X Cell phone, pager, personal digital assistant, or other digital/electronic equipment. (The SAT will not let you make calls during the breaks.)

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      Why should I take time to study for the SAT?

      January 1, 2009 by  
      Filed under All Posts, FAQs

      Students these days are very busy. Homework, extracurricular, and social activities all compete for attention, and finding the extra time to study for the SAT can really put a crimp in your schedule.

      Yet in terms of the benefit to your college application, studying for the SAT is probably the best and most efficient use of your limited time.

      Think about it.

      Most colleges give about the same weight to your SAT score as they give to your entire grade point average.

      This means that time spent studying for the SAT is worth as much as all of the time you will spend studying for all of your classes since you first began high school!

      When you look at it this way, studying for the SAT suddenly seems like a pretty smart use of your time.

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      How is the SAT scored?

      January 1, 2009 by  
      Filed under All Posts, FAQs

      Each SAT subject (Critical Reading, Writing, and Math) is scored on an 800 point scale.

      Each of these ‘scaled scores’ is determined by comparing your ‘raw score’ on each subject with those of other students.

      Scoring on SAT Multiple Choice questions

      For all SAT multiple choice questions (except Math Grid-Ins) your raw score is calculated using this formula:


      1 point ADDED for every CORRECT answer


      ¼ point SUBTRACTED for every WRONG answer


      0 points for every SKIPPED answer

      The SAT penalizes guessing on multiple choice questions by subtracting a ¼ point for every wrong answer.  Because SAT multiple choice questions each have 5 possible answers, subtracting a ¼ point for each wrong answer prevents a student from randomly filling in the answer sheet in hopes of getting extra points.

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