Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT)


The term Scholastic Assessment Test refers to an examination used by colleges and universities as part of their admissions decision making process.  The SAT tests a student's abilities in the areas of critical reading, writing and mathematics, with scores that range from 200 to 800.


Originally known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is used by the admissions departments of colleges and universities to identify prospective students, as well as determine eligibility for scholarships and loans.

The test is administered six times a year (October, November, December, January, May and June), with results available for on-line viewing in as little as three weeks.  Several days later, official reports will start to be delivered to high schools, colleges and universities identified by the student when they registered for the test.

The exam consists of ten sections, including a 25 minute essay.  Students have approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the test, including:

  • Critical Reading: includes reading passages and completing sentences.
  • Writing: includes a short essay and multiple choice questions testing the student's ability to identify grammatical errors.
  • Mathematics: includes algebra, geometry, statistics and probabilities.

Scores can range from a low of 200 to a high of 800.  The national average score of all students taking the test would be close to 500, while students in the 99th percentile would score 800.  A "perfect" score would be 2,400 (800 in each of the above three areas).

Students typically take SATs during their junior and senior year in high school.  More than half of all students take the SAT twice, typically in the spring of their junior year and the following fall.  Scores in the fall of senior year are normally higher than spring scores.

Redesigned Score

In the spring of 2016, a redesigned SAT will be given for the first time.  The test will consist of three sections: evidence-based reading, writing, mathematics and an essay.  The test will be administered for three hours, and students will be given an additional 50 minutes to compose their essay.  Scores will now be on a 400 to 1,600 point scale (writing and mathematics), a separate score will be provided for the essay.

Related Terms

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