What is the SAT Exam? The Ultimate Guide to Help You Ace it!


The SAT is the best-known standardised test for entry into college in countries such as the USA and Canada. A good SAT score can play a big part in you getting into your dream college. When your junior high school year approaches, you should set up a schedule to take up the SAT exam. Here, we will talk about everything you should know about the test. 

What is the SAT Exam?

The SAT is a test of aptitude that measures one's mathematical skills, English grammar, and proficiency in writing and reading. The questions on the exam are supposed to measure how ready each student is for college with multiple-choice questions that test their writing skills, literacy, and numeracy.

What are the Sections on the SAT Exam?

There are three sections on the exam, and most of these contain multiple-choice questions. The mathematics section has multiple-choice questions as well as questions that require students to work it out and write in their answers. Before we discuss each section in detail, here is a summary of how many questions they have and how much time you will get to spend on each of them.

Reading: Contains 52 questions and lasts 65 minutes
Writing & Language: Contains 44 questions and lasts 35 minutes
Mathematics: Contains 58 questions and lasts 80 minutes


The SAT exam starts with the section that tests your reading comprehension – containing four individual passages, two passages compiled together, and questions concerning each. The word count of all of these passages ranges between 500 and 750 words. The passages come from fictional work, texts related to US history, scientific work, and the social sciences.

Writing and Language

The aim of this test is to fix weak points and mistakes in the four passages given, each consisting of multiple-choice questions ranging between 400-500 words. The passages cover various subjects and vary in terms of difficulty. There will be 11 questions concerning each passage that test your capability to not only fix mistakes in punctuation, sentence structure, English usage, and grammar, but also to improve the expression of ideas.


There are two parts to this section: one where you cannot use a calculator and one that allows you to do so. This section concentrates on algebra, problem-solving, data analysis, and advanced mathematics. Some questions also concern trigonometry and geometry. The main category of mathematics questions on the SAT exam concerns algebra.

ACT vs SAT: Which is Better?

Almost every four-year school requires international students to clear the ACT or SAT exam while satisfying minimum score criteria. Each institution's admission process is distinct, with different methods for weighing standardised test scores. These standardised test scores generally indicate how ready students are for college, help determine their placement in courses, and make scholarship decisions based on merit.

The ACT and SAT exam papers share several similarities, but it is also worth noting some key differences between them. Many factors can aid you in determining which exam you should attend. For instance, if you want to have a greater amount of time to answer each question, the SAT exam would be a better option for you. On the other hand, the ACT test is time-intensive to a big extent and moves at a much faster pace as compared to the SAT exam.

Both exams cover similar mathematical topics, but the ACT covers a broader variety of these topics with more complexity and a greater concentration of logarithms, trigonometry, matrices, and geometry questions. While taking the ACT test, you can respond to all questions with a calculator, but there is a mathematics section on the SAT test that is not calculator-friendly.

SAT vs ACT – when it comes to making a choice between these two, it is wise to attend both exams if time permits and you have the resources for it. You are likely to do a lot better in one test compared to the other – as both differ with regard to content, strategy, and structure.

IELTS vs SAT: The Differences

The IELTS measures how proficient a candidate is in English. On the other hand, the SAT measures the literacy, numeracy, and writing skills of the test takers to see whether they are ready for college. Universities in countries like the USA, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the UK use IELTS scores as a point of reference for admission into the higher education industry. On the other hand, SAT is specifically for college and university admission in countries such as the USA and Canada. This is the main difference between the SAT and IELTS.

Over 3000 universities in the USA look at the IELTS scores of international students for higher education admission. It is a must to pass the IELTS test if you want to move to an English-speaking country for studies or employment. If you want to work abroad, the IELTS would suffice as well. In fact, migrating foreign nationals who have passed the SAT exam must also have enough scores in the IELTS to substantiate that they have English proficiency.

SAT Scores Comparison

You can get a score of up to 1600 on the SAT exam. The score in one section is for mathematics, whereas the other section is a combination of writing and reading known as EBRW (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing).

The higher you score on the SAT test, the better your performance will be in relation to everyone else who takes the exam. Now, is there such a thing as a good SAT score?

To understand what constitutes a good SAT score in comparison to all other attendees, it is necessary to understand how SAT test scoring works. The total score you get on the SAT test correlates with a percentile ranking, and the same goes for your SAT exam scores in each section. Your SAT score percentile reveals how well you performed on the exam in comparison to others. For instance, if you have a 50th percentile score on the SAT, it means that you have performed better than 50% of everyone who attended the test.

How to Maximise Your SAT Exam Score

Here are some tips to help you be best prepared for the SAT exam and get the best possible score from it. To put your best foot forward on test day, try the following while taking a mock SAT test – there are many sample SAT exam papers to choose from online.

Eliminate the Wrong Answers First

Start the exam by ruling out wrong answers instead of trying too hard to get it right the first time. Some answers are obviously wrong, but others may need more careful consideration. There is only one correct answer to each question on the SAT, so addressing wrong answers initially can aid you in zeroing in on your options, thus improving your chances of finding the right answers.

Look through the SAT Passages

The Writing & Language section of the SAT tests your ability to read content and understand what it means, so take time to read each passage carefully. Read the questions related to each passage carefully so that you know which components to look for in it.

Memorise Formulas and Rules

The SAT exam offers mathematical formulas, but it is important to memorise some grammar rules and algebraic formulas so that you can proceed with the test content faster.

Read the SAT Section Introductions Carefully

Peruse the introduction to each section of the SAT as you attend the test. The introduction often includes important information which you may miss if you go over the test content quickly.

The SAT Exam Registration Process

You can register for the SAT exam in the Philippines through an account at the College Board site. Act as per the following steps to register for it:

  • First, fill out the form with some general information to create a College Board account. You will get a confirmation email after you successfully create the account.
  • Be sure to fill out each section under Student Information. If you are unsure of anything, contact your faculty, guardian, or even student counsellor.
  • Choose an SAT exam date. Look at the site of the institution where you want to apply for its application deadline. There are only 5 to 7 SAT exams per year in the Philippines. Try to attend the exam at least 90 days before the deadline.
  • Choose an SAT test venue. It is likely to be somewhere other than your location in the Philippines. The venues for the SAT exam in the country are generally international schools, like Victory Christian International School, Cebu International School, International School Manila, and MIT International School, so be ready to fly elsewhere to attend the test.

There is a section of the College Board website where you can find the test venues and dates – ensure that you remain well-informed and regularly updated on the important details.

What is the Fees for the SAT Exam?

You will have to spend around $60 to register for the exam. However, bear in mind that there will be additional SAT exam fees if you avail of certain services and options. For instance, there is an additional fee for registering for the test after the last date for it, which varies based on the test date.

For help with applying to a university abroad, feel free to contact our expert counsellors at any time.

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