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KB101: A Comprehensive Guide on SATs

SATs are entrance exams used by colleges and universities worldwide to make admissions decisions. The tests follow a multiple-choice format, with a pencil-and-paper examination created and administered by the College Board. The grading comes from two main sections: 800 points from the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW), and 800 points from the Mathematics section. As of November 2021, both the SAT Subject Tests (SAT2) and the SAT Essay have been discontinued.

The Total Score

SATs scores are normally distributed, ranging from 400 to 1600, with each of the main sections contributing 200-800 points. Essentially, the final score is a scaled-up version of the raw test score. Candidates will receive their final score on estimated dates, stated on the website of the College Board. These will typically be within two weeks after the test dates.

Breaking Down The Scoring Report

From this diagram, the two main sections are comprised of two other tests. Within these tests,

the score report will show candidates their cross-test scores. These represent the candidate’s performance across both sections.

The College Board categorise these questions into Analysis in Science and Analysis in History/ Social Sciences. For more information on how these questions look like, candidates may refer to the free practice questions provided by College Board.


SAT sub-scores, similar to cross-test scores, measure the performance of questions that fall into certain skill areas. While cross-scores questions appear throughout the SATs, regardless of which section it is, sub-scores strictly test the skill-areas pertaining to the respective section.

There are seven sub-scores total. Within the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section, the College Board has four sub-scores: Expression of Ideas, Standard English Conventions, Word in Context, and Command of Evidence.

  • Expression of Ideas

In the Writing test, Expression of Ideas refers to questions focusing on “the revision of text for topic development; organization, logic, and cohesion; and rhetorically effective use of language.”

  • Standard English Conventions,

Within the Writing test, candidates would be tested on their editing skills, focusing on “editing text to ensure conformity to the conventions of standard written English sentence structure, usage, and punctuation.”

  • Word in Context, and

The SAT Reading portion will test candidates on the meaning and use of words. These are designed for candidates to derive the meaning from the context in which these words or phrases are used.

  • Command of Evidence

This sub-score tests the candidates on their ability to cite the most relevant “portion of the text” to support a certain statement or conclusion.

Within the Mathematics section, there are three sub-scores:

  • Heart of Algebra

Problems in this skill area pertain to interpreting the “interplay between graphical and algebraic representations or solving as a process of reasoning.”

  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis

The questions in this skill area require “significant quantitative reasoning about ratios, rates, and proportional relationships and will place a premium on understanding and applying unit rate.”

  • Passport to Advanced Math

Within this subscores, the examiner is testing candidates’ understanding “of the structure of expressions and the ability to analyze, manipulate, and rewrite mathematical expressions. This domain also includes reasoning with more complex equations, and interpreting and building functions.”

Test Formats

  • Writing Test: 35 minutes with 44 questions

  • Reading Test: 65 minutes with 52 questions

  • Mathematics Test, with a calculator: 55 minutes with 38 questions

  • Mathematics Test, without a calculator: 25 minutes with 20 questions

Registration Details

As the registration deadline closes approximately one month before the test dates, candidates should look to register for their SATs as soon as possible. The deadline for registration is set to be 11:59 p.m. ET, U.S, on the designated date.

Regarding the registration fee, candidates from Singapore would have to pay two types of fees. Firstly, they are required to pay USD52.00 for the SATs registration fee. The second fee is an international fee of USD53.00.


Depending on the universities the candidates are applying to, the SATs could be one of the more important components in the application process. Should the aspired colleges require SATs in the application, candidates should do their best to secure a decent SATs score as soon as possible.

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