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The SAT Test

The SAT is one of two admissions tests (the other being the ACT) required for admission or sponsorship to US Universities (to work out which might suit you go to our article on which exam). A new syllabus for the SAT was launched in May 2016 and this new syllabus is the only syllabus available to new students. The new SAT is three hours long and made up of three components the Reading, Writing and Language and Math(s). There is also an optional essay component which is required by some of the more competitive US Universities. The test is designed to measure critical thinking and analytical skills and can be taken several times during the year at various locations (see below).

The new SAT is focussed on solving real world problems, clear communication and understanding complex relationships. It is aligned with the knowledge and skills taught in the classroom to make better students and employees.

The SAT international test dates for 2016 are as follows:

  • 7 May 2016 (deadline 8 April 2016)
  • 4 June 2016 (deadline 5 May 2016)
  • 1 Oct 2016 (deadline 5 May 2016)
  • 5 Nov 2016 (deadline 5 May 2016)
  • 3 Dec 2016 (deadline 5 May 2016)

The Subject Tests

The more competitive US universities also require 2-3 SAT Subject Tests, in addition to the SAT Reasoning Test. Usually US Universities do not specify which of these subject tests they require and so most students take those corresponding to their A-Level subjects or GCSEs.

The Subject Tests are one-hour, multiple-choice tests in Mathematics Level 1 & 2, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Literature and US and World History. There are also two types of language tests, both with and without a listening component. Those offered without listening include: French, German, Italian, Latin, Modern Hebrew, and Spanish. Those offered with a listening component include: Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish but are only available during the November test cycle.

Please note that not all SAT subject tests run on each test cycle so take care, when registering, that your subjects are available for testing. The College Board holds this information and further information on the SAT exam.


If you wish to sit the SAT you must register on the College Board website (note this can not be done through a test centre). For information on testing fees and a detailed description of how to register go to the Fulbright Commission. There are various testing sites throughout the UK, but not all are available for each set of tests. In order to see which tests are available at which sites then register now.


We advise that students sit the SAT in the spring of Year 12 or the winter of Year 13, to allow time for resits if required, for entrance directly after A-Levels. It is, however, never too late as you can always take time out between A-Levels and University, so register now.

Please note, however, that you CAN NOT sit the Reasoning Test AND three Subject Tests on one testing date. Therefore, students wishing to take both for entrance to the most competitive US universities will need to plan for two SAT testing dates.

Also note, testing centres spaces fill up quickly, particularly in London, so you should register as soon as possible!


There are two section scores on the new SAT: one for the Reading, Writing and Language which are combined to give an Evidence Based Reasoning score and the other for the Maths. Each score ranges from 200-800 points. It is therefore possible to score a total of anywhere between 400 and 1600 of which Maths is 50%!

Individual test scores are also given in the range 10-40 (not the essay option), which is scored against other people taking the same test on the same day. You will receive cross-test scores on a scale of 10-40 for Analysis in History/Social Studies and Analysis in Science. Seven subscores are awarded scoring 1-15 for: (1) Command of evidence, (2) Words in Context, (3) Expression of Ideas, (4) Standard English Conventions, (5) Heart of Algebra (6) Problem Solving and Data Analysis (7). Passport to Advanced Maths.

All the questions on the SAT test are multiple choice, with the exception of Maths grid-in or write-in questions. Each question is one point for a correct answer, and there is no longer a deduction for an incorrect answer, so it is always worth making an educated guess.

Three weeks after the test you will be able to view your overall score online and a percentile, which describes how you have done in comparison to other students taking the test across the world on the same day (e.g. if you achieved a 75th percentile score then you have done better than 75% of all other students on that test).

When you register for the SAT you are given the option to send your scores by post, or online, to four universities of your choice free of charge, and further Universities at a cost. If, however, you do not list any universities on registration you will have to pay a fee to send the scores at a later date.

For further information on Waitlist Testing, students with disabilities and any other information have a look at information on the Fulbright Commission website or go directly to the College Board website.

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