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Being one of only two standard tests used in admitting high school students in various colleges around the United States, the importance of the SAT exam cannot be overemphasized. Along with the ACT test, an individual’s grade in the SAT exam determines both their qualification for college and their placement into any such educational institution for which they qualify.
The United States College Board develops, publishes, and owns the SAT assessment test, which is administered on behalf of the College Board by the US Educational Testing Service. The history of the SAT testing dates back to its initial use for moderating college admissions in 1926. It has been used on a consistent basis ever since.
The test, it was believed, offered the most objective measure of a student’s intellectual capacity and potential, and is presently the foremost criterion for deciding college admissions and placements.
Why take the SAT test?
➔ College admissions
The SAT exam results are accepted as the benchmark assessment method for admission and placement of graduating high school students into American colleges. This is because SAT is a standardized test taken by a large number of graduate students across the country, and who are actively vying for similar college opportunities.
The test is equally respected for its excellent track record in showing the larger education system and its principal stakeholders, including schools, colleges and parents, how ready a student is to take on greater academic and scholarly challenges.
While not a core mandate of the test, the SAT assessment is a nationally accepted yardstick of the quality of education offered in any particular district. Indeed, since several students from varying states take the SAT test, the data collected from assessment results enable individual schools to compare the effectiveness of their teaching techniques to that offered by similar schools.
However, there is an increasing number of the US colleges walking away from the SAT/ACT requirement for admissions.
➔ College placement
While a passing score in your SAT test gets you into most 2-year and 4-year colleges and programs, it equally determines the type of institutions you may qualify for. For instance, though a score of 1.400 is considered a passing grade in SAT, it falls way below the expectations of such students admitted in the top-tier colleges around the country. For this, a score of no lower than 2.000 is usually required.
Of course, the fact that every student aspiring to join an American college must decide between taking the SAT or the ACT tests does not leave much choice! Not really. In fact, there are states such as Michigan, New Hampshire and Delaware which require all high school junior students to take the SAT test.
Whether or not a student qualifies to take the test depends on a number of factors, all of which are of a critical nature. For instance, taking the SAT exam is mandated within the three states named above. This provision means that all high school juniors in New Hampshire, Michigan and Delaware do qualify to take the PrepAway SAT test.
Indeed, it has been noted that the high school junior year is the most optimal time to take the SAT test. This finding is based upon the understanding that high school juniors have usually covered majority of their school materials, making them best placed to respond to the assessment better. It speaks volumes however that there are no clear rules for one’s eligibility to take the SAT exam. However, the students must opt for the test while still in high school, whether in junior or senior years. This facilitates their transition in higher learning as SAT is an entrance requirement in most colleges.
Furthermore, while there is neither a minimum nor a maximum age of entry, it is custom for the US high school students to take the exam in junior and senior years. This is similar to the 11th or 12thgrades of the education systems in Europe and Asia, with the estimated age being between 17 and 18.
However, the SAT candidates younger than 12 years old may register for the test through mail only while the candidates aged 13 and older may register and create a free account on the College Board. In addition, a SAT candidate aged 21 or over must provide official government identification documents, including a driver’s license, a government-issued photo ID, or their passport before being granted access to the test center.
SAT accepting schools
Incidentally, it is easy to track the states which make use of the SAT assessment. Still, despite the increasing number of colleges opting for test-optional training, there remains a large number of states that require the students to take the SAT test. At present, the test is mandatory in 12 states while New York, Arizona, Minnesota, Maryland, Florida, and Texas allow some schools or districts to administer the exam as an option or a requirement.
As for the colleges, the exam results are accepted in all educational institutions offering a four-year program, even though this is a straight choice between SAT and ACT. More policy flexibility is now creeping into college administrations, however, necessitating specific inquiry from one’s college of choice.
However, the SAT assessment is a principal requirement for the American students interested in studying in Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as for foreign students seeking admission into an American college program.
Scope, testing and scoring criteria
The SAT test is used to assesses the understanding of high school juniors and seniors of the core fundamentals of their education. These fundamentals include: reading comprehension, clarity of expression, and computational ability.
Specifically, the SAT assessment is administered in form of three subject areas in mathematics, reading and writing, which are marked and independently scored between 200 and 800 points. As a result, the final score a SAT candidate can achieve ranges between 600 and 2400.
These subject areas are organized into ten sections: the essay section followed by two sections on reading, two on mathematics, one on writing, and an experimental section of 25 min each, presented in a random order. There also is another 20-minute reading section, a 20-minute mathematics section, and a final 10-minute section on writing.