SAT, ACT, PSAT, PLAN - what are all these tests anyway? What makes each one distinctive? The SAT, or Scholastic Aptitude Test, is a familiar term for most people, but there is so much more to this exam than just the acronym. Whether you are going to be taking the exam yourself, you know someone who will be, or you simply want to know more for curiosity’s sake, there are many aspects of this infamous test that a lot people do not know, but should.
Purpose of the SAT
The SAT is a college entrance exam that college-bound students take, usually during their junior or senior year of high school. As the name implies, this test measures a student’s aptitude and reasoning skills and determines if they are ready for the rigor of a college education. More than memorization of facts and rules, the SAT tests whether or not students have adequate problem-solving skills.
The Test Itself
There are three sections of this exam: critical reasoning, which encompasses reading passages and sentence completions; the writing section, which includes two short essays and multiple choice questions that have the student identify and correct grammatical errors; and the mathematical section, which has arithmetic, algebra, geometry, statistics, and probability problems. The whole test takes place over 3 hours and 45 minutes, but you will have three short breaks in between some of the sections.
Preparation for the SAT
It’s always a good idea to go into the SAT as prepared as possible, and there are several ways to go about this preparation. The best way to study for this exam is to simply do your best in your classes and take courses that challenge you - because these classes will provide you with the foundation you need to succeed on the SAT. In terms of short-term preparation, you can purchase an official SAT study guide or book, take free practice tests online, or participate in an SAT course at your school.
SAT vs. ACT
You may be stuck trying to decide whether you should take the SAT or the ACT, and that is an incredibly important decision to make. Not only do different colleges accept different entrance exams, but each of these exams test different aspects of your education. The SAT focuses more on your reasoning abilities, while the ACT looks at your knowledge base and memorization skills. If you know that you are better at applying knowledge than memorizing it, the SAT may be the better choice for you, and vice versa for the ACT.