The SAT is an exam created to assess college readiness in high school students. The SAT features 4 mandatory sections and 1 optional essay section. The 4 mandatory sections are Reading, Writing & Language (English), Math - No Calculator, and Math - Calculator. Through our Austin SAT Prep, high school students learn important study skills and strategies for the SAT exam. Our professional SAT tutors teach students about the core sections of the SAT, passage types, question types, and key concepts that arise on the SAT.
The SAT Reading section features 52 multiple choice questions that students must complete in 65 minutes. These questions are broken up into 5 passages with approximately 10-12 questions per passage. The four passage types are Literature, Social Science, Paired, and Natural Science. The questions in this section center on main ideas, passage details, words in context, purpose, and inference.
One of the most important strategies for the SAT Reading section is to know that SAT Reading questions proceed in chronological order. That means, students should use where they are in the questions as a guide for where to find the answer in the passage (ex. answers to first 3 questions should be towards the beginning of the passage and answers to the last 3 questions should be towards the end of the passage). Knowing this can improve students' confidence and efficiency on the SAT Reading section!
SAT Writing and Language
The SAT Writing and Language section features 44 multiple choice questions that students must complete in 35 minutes. These questions are broken up into 4 passages with 11 questions per passage. The questions in this section center on grammar and rhetoric. In other words, the SAT Writing and Language section tests students' knowledge of and proficiency in punctuation, subject/verb agreement, pronouns, verb tense, transition words, paragraph organization, word choice, and more.
One of the most important strategies for the SAT Writing and Language section is to trust your ear. If an answer choice 'sounds' wrong when you substitute it back into the sentence and re-read it, then that answer choice is probably wrong. Many high school students underestimate the power that comes with reading, writing, and speaking English for the last 15+ years. Oftentimes, we can "hear" when something is grammatically incorrect. Typically, 2 answer choices on the SAT Writing and Language questions will often just sound wrong. This is an excellent process of elimination tactic!
SAT Math - No Calculator
The SAT Math - No Calculator section features 15 multiple choice questions and 5 grid-in questions that students must complete in 25 minutes. Grid-in questions require students to solve for the exact answer to a math problem and then bubble in the number accordingly. The questions in the math section assess students' knowledge of and proficiency with concepts from primarily Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2. At the beginning of the math section, students will have access to a formula chart that features some important equations such as Area of a Triangle, Volume of a Rectangular Prism, etc.
One of the most important strategies for the SAT Math section is if you cannot remember the traditional math way to solve a problem, use a strategy called Guess and Check. Use the numbers in the answer choices or pick a couple easy numbers to work with (2, 3, 5, 10, 100) and plug them into the equation and see what works. Both numbers on either side of the equal sign should match after you do your math!
SAT Math - Calculator
The SAT Math - No Calculator section features 30 multiple choice questions and 8 grid-in questions that students must complete in 55 minutes. The questions in the math section assess students' knowledge of and proficiency with concepts from primarily Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2. On this section, students will have access to a calculator and a formula chart.
Another important strategy for the SAT Math section is to underline important information (numbers) in the problems. This is particularly helpful for word problems. Annotations force our brains to stay engaged with what we are reading. If we stay engaged with what we are reading, we are more likely to do better on the questions. Also, if students flag key words and numbers in the problems, this will improve their efficiency on questions and prevent them from making silly mistakes!
SAT Essay (Optional)
The SAT Essay section is optional, although some universities do require it, so be sure to double check! Students will have 50 minutes to read a passage and respond to a prompt. The prompt will require students to analyze how the author builds an argument. In other words, students will need to analyze the text for rhetorical strategies and explain how the author uses those techniques to persuade the audience of the validity of their view point.
One of the most important strategies for the SAT Essay section is to annotate the passage for rhetorical strategies. If you annotate the passage for rhetorical strategies as you read, it will not only help your reading comprehension, but it will make it easier for you to incorporate textual evidence into your essay.
A perfect score on the SAT is a 1600. Each of the 4 sections of the exam are worth 400 points. A student's score will be the sum of those 4 individual scores.
The optional essay section is scored separately. Students will be assessed by 2 graders on a scale from 2-8 in the areas of Reading, Analysis, and Writing. So, a perfect score for the SAT Essay is a triple 8.
SAT Prep Sessions
SAT Prep sessions can play an integral role in how students perform on these exams. So much of improving one's score on the SAT hinges on a student's overall familiarity with the SAT exam as a whole and the various question types that arise on it. In SAT tutoring sessions, our knowledgeable tutors educate high school students on format, time requirements, pacing, passage types, relevant concepts, and overall strategies for each section of the SAT.
We generally recommend that SAT Prep sessions be 1.5 or 2 hours in length. This ensures that our local SAT tutors have enough time to explain strategies, work on practice questions with their students, and discuss results on homework. We recommend that high school students have at least 4-8 SAT tutoring sessions prior to taking their SAT (1-2 sessions per section of the exam). Keep in mind that many students have to take the SAT more than once in order to achieve their goal score.
As our SAT tutors continue to work with your students, they will gain a better idea of what particular sections and concepts your student struggles with. Then, they can gradually create a more customized SAT study plan for your particular student.