Facts About the SAT College Admission and Placement Test


Starting with the March 2016 test, the College Board has changed the SAT significantly. Very little remains of the old SAT. Vocabulary, geometry, and guessing penalties are gone. Students are no longer allowed to use a calculator for all questions of the math section. The new SAT mirrors the ACT in many ways, but does retain some significant differences.

The SAT’s Language Arts (including Reading, Writing and Language) and Math sections each has a top score of 800. An optional Essay is scored separately.

There also are optional SAT subject tests in Math, Sciences, Literature, U.S. and World History, and Foreign Languages. Wendy Segal Tutoring works diligently with each student to determine which, if any, of the subject tests are appropriate and beneficial to that student’s admissions strategy.

SATs are offered in October, November, December, March, May, June, and August. Registration closes about a month before each test. Local high schools each host the different test dates, so if a certain date isn’t listed on your school’s calendar, it probably is offered at a neighboring high school.

Wendy Segal Tutoring customizes the SAT tutoring course for each student. Choose the number of sessions as well as the time and day of sessions that best suit your schedule and your goals.

Our recommendation for the best SAT workbook is The Official SAT Study Guide. The best SAT Subject Test workbook is The Official Study Guide for all SAT Subject Tests.

5 Quick Tips for the SAT

  • Guess! There’s no penalty for getting a question wrong, so if you’re clueless, it’s best to guess. Even when you understand the question, you may not be 100% confident you know the answer. You seldom can take time to verify every choice. First, eliminate which choices clearly are wrong. Then, if you must move on, take your best guess from the choices remaining.
  • Reading Section: Each passage should take you 12-13 minutes to complete (read and answer questions). Keep an eye on the time! If the reading looks confusing (especially those written in the 1700s or 1800s), skip that passage and come back to it when you’ve completed the rest of the section.
  • Grammar Questions: The College Board prefers shorter sentences more than longer ones, and favors fewer commas over more commas. Don’t forget to make sure that each pronoun goes with a particular noun. (Don’t say “he” if you mean “they,” and don’t say “it” unless it’s very clear exactly what “it” refers to!)
  • Math Sections: Notice that the answer choices are listed in either ascending numerical order (a= -½; b= 0, c=5…) or descending numerical order (a=5, b=0, c= -1/2…). If you need to plug in a number to try a solution, you may want to start with a number in the middle. That way, you’ll know whether you need a bigger number or a smaller one, which is quicker than starting with letter “a” and working your way down.
  • Essay: In the eyes of The College Board, the longer the essay the better, as long as you don’t repeat yourself too much. Write several paragraphs, and sprinkle a few long words throughout (but be sure to use them correctly and spell them correctly). Be neat. Feel free to use print rather than script penmanship to keep your essay legible.