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How to Prepare for SAT®

What is a good SAT® Score?

There is no such thing as a “good” or “bad” score, since there are many factors apart from your SAT® score that universities consider. Students with an average score might still make it to a good university because ofa stellar academic and extra-curricular profile. We recommend that you aim for a 1400+ score out of 1600 on the New SAT® format, so that your performance in the “SAT® score criteria” in the admission process remains strong.

So how do I get a 1400+ score on the NewSAT®?

Simple. The NewSAT® has a set of well defined topics and a set of select question types. A combination of this covers the entire spectrum of questions that can come in the SAT®. Mastering this typically takes 2-3 months of effort. You need to:

  • Create a concrete study plan and stick to it
  • Take periodic tests to review your progress

New SAT® Syllabus

Compared to earlier, the New SAT® has become even more predictable. Not only has the College Board published the subject topics, they have even given a percentage-wise breakup of the broad topics in the test. Here is an overview of the topics and their weight in the test:

New SAT® Math

The New SAT® Math section comprises of two tests:

SAT® Math # of Questions Duration
Calculator Portion 38 Questions 55 mins
No-Calculator Portions 20 Questions 25 mins

The New SAT® Math Syllabus consists of the following:

Topics # of Questions %age of Questions
Heart of Algebra 19 Questions 33%
  • Linear Equations
  • Inequalities & Absolute Value
  • Linear functions and Graphs;Relations
Problem Solving & Data Analysis 17 Questions 29%
  • Number Properties : Integers, Fractions , Decimals, GCD,LCM and Divisibility
  • Unit & percentages;  Ratio & proportion; Rate: Speed Distance and Work
  • Interpretation of Data - graphs, tables & scatterplots
  • Statistics (Mean, Mode, Median, SD, Dispersion, Confidence Level) & Sequences
  • Probability, Permutation & Combination
Passport to Advanced Math 16 Questions 28%
  • Equations & Functions - Polynomials, Dividing polynomials by linear Expressions
  • Quadratic Functions & Equations : System of equations
  • Exponential Functions, Equations & Radical Expressions AND non-linear graphs
Additional Topics in Maths 6 Questions 10%
  • Geometry (Lines, Angles, Triangles, Quadrilaterals, Circles,  other polygons)
  • Solid Geometry (Area , Surface area & Volume)
  • Trignometry & Radians ; Complex Numbers

New SAT® Evidence Based Reading & Writing

The SAT® Evidence Based Reading & Writing section comprises two tests – SAT® Reading Test and SAT® Writing and Language Test.

SAT® Evidence Based Reading & Writing # of Questions Duration
SAT® Reading Test 5 passages: 52 Questions 65 Minutes
SAT® Writing & Language Test 4 passages: 44 Questions 35 Mins

SAT® Reading Test

The test comprises a series of passages and associated multiple-choice questions.To answer the questions, students must refer to what the passages say explicitly and use careful reasoning to draw supportable inferences from the passages.

You will encounter 4 single passages and 1 paired passage: 500–750 words per passage or paired set. Here is a breakup of SAT® Reading Test passages:

Passage Content  Questions %age
U.S. and World Literature 1 passage; 10 questions 20%
History/Social Studies 2 passages, or 1 passage and 1 pair; 10– 11 questions each 40%
Science 2 passages, or 1 passage and 1 pair;10 –11 questions each 40%

SAT® Writing & Language Test

This test evaluates your proficiency in revising and editing passage content, both academic and career related - for development, organization, effective language use and for conformity to the conventions of Standard Written English grammar, usage, and punctuation.

You will encounter 4 passages: 400–450 words per passage. Here is the breakup of SAT® Reading Test passages:

Passage Content Questions %age
Careers 1 passage; 11 questions 25%
History/Social Studies 2 passage; 11 questions 25%
Science 3 passage; 11 questions 25%
Humanities 4 passage; 11 questions 25%

New SAT® Essay

The New SAT® Essay tests your reading, analysis, and writing skills – it contains a passage that you have to analyze. You are supposed to:

  1. Read a passage.
  2. Explain how the author builds the argument.
  3. Support your explanation with evidence from the passage.

SAT® Vocabulary

The New SAT® no longer has direct vocabulary based questions. Instead, it has shifted to a more application oriented approach – it tests your understanding of the meaning of a word IN CONTEXT of a particular passage.

Therefore, apart from studying SAT® specific word lists, you should also build a habit of reading a lot of articles covering Science, Humanities, American History /Social Studies (e.g. Founding Documents of US).


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