The SAT is a nationally administered, standardized test used by many U.S. colleges and universities to assess applicants’ readiness for college. The majority of competitive U.S. colleges and universities require students to submit a score from either the SAT or the ACT (the other nationally administered, standardized college admissions test) as part of their application; all colleges that require a standardized test score will accept either. (About 60% of Kaplan students take both tests, to see which they’ll perform better on.) The exam is comprised of three scored sections (Reading/Writing, Math and an optional essay) and an unscored experimental section. The scoring range is from 400 to 1600. Generally, students will take the SAT in the spring of their junior year, which allows them enough time to re-take the test during the fall of their senior year if they are not satisfied with their score.
Brief history of the SAT: The modern day SAT has its roots among the American soldiers who headed off the battlefields of France in World War I. Robert Yerkes, a leading member of the new IQ testing movement, convinced the military to let him give an intelligence test to all recruits. After the war, one of Yerkes’ associates, Carl Brigham, began adapting the test for use in college admissions, as a way of eliminating bias among applicants from different socio-economic backgrounds. The SAT was first administered experimentally to a several thousand college applicants in 1926. In 1938 – the year Kaplan was founded, coincidentally – Harvard administrators talked all the member schools of the College Board into using the SAT as a uniform exam, but only for scholarship applicants. By 1948, the SAT was seeing widespread adoption among universities and colleges throughout the country. Over the years, the test has seen many changes. In 2005, the exam saw the addition of a writing section, the elimination of analogies and the score ceiling being raised from 1600 to 2400. The latest changes to hit the SAT — the most sweeping in the exam’s century-long history — launched on March 5, 2016. Everything from the scoring scale, to the content, to the calculator policy, to the essay changed. Visit Kaplan’s SAT Test Change Resource Center for more details about the new, more challenging test.
- Year created: 1901
- Test’s administrator: The College Board
- Number of test takers for the class of 2015: Approximately 1.7 million
- Length of test: 3 hours and 50 minutes (including the optional essay); 3 hours without it
- Test format: paper-and-pencil
- Sections on test: Reading/Writing, Math and an optional essay, plus an experimental section (ungraded)
- Score range: graded on a 1600-point scale; the optional essay receives its own separate score
- Cost of test: $54.50, with the optional essay; $43 without it
- How often the test it administered: 7 times through the school year: October, November, December, January, March, May, and June
- Interesting fact about the test: SAT originally stood for “Scholastic Achievement Test,” but in 1941, the exam’s administrator changed the name to “Scholastic Aptitude Test.” In 1994, it just became known as “SAT,” so today the letters officially do not stand for anything!
* SAT is a registered trademark of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product. ACT is a registered trademark of ACT, Inc. PSAT/NMSQT is a trademark jointly owned by the College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which were not involved in the production of, and do not endorse, this product. None of the trademark holders are affiliated with Kaplan or this website.