SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test)

Are you wondering what is the SAT? SAT (formerly known as Scholastic Assessment Test) is a standardised undergraduate admission test conducted by the College Board that evaluates the English, Mathematical, Science, and Verbal skills of the test-takers. The aim of the SAT is to assess the candidate’s readiness for college. This article will tell you all you need to know about SAT.

Candidates all over the world take the SAT to pursue their undergraduate studies abroad, especially in the US and Canada. However, SAT scores are also accepted by some universities and colleges in the UK and Australia. Besides international universities and colleges, many colleges in India that are a part of the India Higher Education Global Alliance initiative of the College Board, also accept SAT scores as an admission requirement.

Who is SAT for?

The SAT exam is for you if you are:

  • a high school student/graduate
  • looking to pursue an Undergraduate Degree abroad, especially in the US
  • looking to pursue an Undergraduate Degree at colleges in India that accept SAT scores

SAT Exam Format and Score Range

The SAT exam structure comprises a total of 154 questions with a score scale of 400-1600, and has a duration of 3 hours (180 minutes). It is also worth noting that there is no negative marking for incorrect answers in SAT, and leaving answers blank poses no advantage. Thus, candidates are encouraged to attempt all questions on the test.

SAT has the following sections:

  • Evidence-based Reading & Writing (200-800)
    • Reading Test
    • Writing and Language Test
  • Math Test (200-800)

Besides these, SAT also has an optional Essay component carrying 1 question, that tests the candidate on 3 dimensions – Reading, Analysis, and Writing. It is scored separately on a scale of 2 to 8 for each of the 3 dimensions tested. An additional duration of 50 minutes is allotted for this optional section. However, the Essay component is required by some colleges, and you should be aware of the requirements before you decide whether to take the SAT with or without the Essay component.

SAT Eligibility Criteria

Mentioned below are the essential factors of SAT exam eligibility criteria:

  • An identification document with the candidate’s name, photograph, and signature (such as Passport or Aadhaar Card) is required to register for the SAT.
  • There is no minimum or maximum age limit for taking the SAT. However, most of the candidates appearing for the test fall in the age group of 17-19. 
  • There is no strict educational qualification requirement for taking the SAT. However, most candidates appearing for the test are high school students.
  • The College Board has set no restrictions regarding the number of times a candidate can take the test. Hence, you would be eligible to take the test as many times as you want, regardless of whether or not you have taken it before.

SAT Exam Frequency

In India, SAT is administered 5 times in a year, typically in the months of March, May, August, October and December. The dates may be modified in view of the pandemic, and some test centres may be closed for administering the test. It is thus advised to check for available test centres before registering. Additionally, in view of the health and safety of all candidates, the College Board has also made provisions for taking the SAT tests in online mode.

SAT Exam Fee

Candidates from India need to pay a minimum of $101 for the SAT test. The breakup of the fee is as follows:

  • Basic SAT Fee – $52
  • International Region Fee (India) – $49
  • Essay Component Fee (Optional) – $16

The table below summarizes important information related to the SAT exam that you should keep in mind.

No. of Questions154 (+1 optional Essay)
Question TypesMCQ + Grid-In (+ Written Essay)
Sections & Score RangeEvidence-based Reading & Writing (200-800)Reading Test Writing and Language Test Math Test (200-800)Essay (Optional) (6-24)
Exam Duration3 hours (+ 50 minutes for optional Essay)
Score Range400 – 1600
Score Validity5 Years
Frequency5 times every year (March, May, August, October, December)
Re-AttemptsNo limits
Cost$101 (+ $16 for optional Essay)

We hope this article briefly answers what is SAT. So get started with your preparation today, plan, practice and ace the exam.


1. What does  SAT stand for?

Formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, SAT now stands for Scholastic Assessment Test. The name has undergone several changes over time.

2. What is the difference between the SAT and ACT?

Except for the timing both the SAT and ACT are the same and test you on same topics. Although the SAT is the lengthier test of the two when taken with an optional essay, colleges and universities accept both test scores as part of the admissions process.

3. How to start preparing for the SAT?

You can start preparing for the SAT by taking a full-length practice test. Furthermore, you may decide to enrol into SAT prep classes online or at a coaching centre to get some assistance and guidance.

Good luck!