What is the SAT Exam?

SAT. You keep seeing this word, but have no idea what it means.

SAT actually stands for Scholastic Aptitude Test and it is one of the most common university entrance exams in the United States.

The SAT provides one standard data point that all universities and colleges can use to compare student applicants, while still considering a student’s grade point average (GPA), letters of recommendation, and personal essays.

International students preparing for the SAT exam.

For international students, many universities and colleges in the United States do not require that you take the SAT to be considered for admission. However, universities require a certain SAT score if you want to apply for scholarships.

If you don’t need to take the SAT for admission and don’t need scholarships, then skip it.

If you want to see if you can earn some scholarships, you will probably need to take the SAT.

What is on the SAT?

The goal of the SAT is to determine a student’s readiness for university. How do you measure that?

The SAT exam has two sections: evidence-based reading and writing and math. The evidence-based reading and writing section has one test that focuses on reading and a second test that focuses on writing and language. The math section includes two tests: one test you can use a calculator and the other test it is not allowed.

There is also an optional essay a student can complete. This essay asses the student’s ability to build a persuasive argument.

In total, it takes a student three hours and 50 minutes to complete the SAT.

ReadingWriting and LanguageMathEssay (optional)
Time: 65 minutes

52 multiple-choice questions

Click: What kind of questions to expect
Time: 35 minutes

44 multiple-choice questions

Click: What kind of questions to expect
Time: 80 minutes

58 multiple-choice questions

Click: What kind of questions to expect
Time: 50 minutes

1 essay

Click: What kind of essay to expect

What is a Good SAT Score?

Each section of the SAT is scored on a 200 to 800 point scale. If you take the optional essay, you will receive a separate score on a scale of 2 to 8.

The total score scale: 400 – 1600.

The highest SAT score you can receive is 1600.

The average SAT score is 1060.

Some universities and colleges request minimum SAT scores for scholarship eligibility. You can always look at the SAT score benchmarks to see how you compare with other test takers.

When Should You Take the SAT?

Most students take the SAT for the first time during their junior year of high school (16 or 17-years old). This leaves enough time if the student wants to retake the SAT during their senior year (17 or 18-years-old) to try to raise their score. The SAT exam is available every year in August, October, November, December, March, May and June.

Click here to learn how to register for the SAT exam.

Click here to practice 15 minutes a day to prepare for the SAT exam.

How Much Does the SAT Cost?

Below are the costs for international students taking the SAT exam.

SAT $49.50 + Non U.S. Regional Fee

SAT + optional essay $64.50 + Non U.S. Regional Fee

To determine your non U.S. regional fee, click here.

Lastly, there are also a series of additional fees that may apply to your situation. Click here to see all the other possible fees for international students and make sure you read through carefully!

When you decide you want to study in the U.S., International Student Voice builds a customized timeline for you so you don’t miss important deadlines, including upcoming SAT exams. We’ll also provide you resources to help study for the examination.