Everything You Need to Know About the SAT: Part 2 (2023)

Every year, all across the world, high school students and their parents spend millions of dollars, thousands of study hours, and a whole lot of worry and effort to take the SAT exam. Known as the Scholastic Assessment Test, the SAT focuses on standard academic knowledge in literacy and mathematics. It’s a source of anxiety for students and parents. To alleviate some stress or worry from students and parents, SAT prep sessions are the way to go!Below, you can find the answers to all your most-asked questions about the SAT.

1. Why is the SAT Important for Colleges?

SATs are instrumental for college applications and admissions.The purpose of the SAT is to measure high school students’ readiness for university and to provide colleges with one common data point to compare applicants.How important SAT scores are for your college application varies from college to college.Nonetheless, the higher your SAT grade, the higher the chance you’ll get accepted, and the more options you’ll have for choosing a program or major for college.Since- unfortunately- there is a limited amount of information to get to know an applicant, any additional data, like SAT scores, may be helpful in making a decision.

These numbers are not set-in-stone, as some SAT college requirements are based on averages and estimates; there are always students who will get into a university or department who have scored below a specific score, which goes to say that the SAT is instrumental but not the only metric used for university admission.

Furthermore, independent analysis has shown a strong correlation between elite university acceptance and higher SAT percentile performance.

2. How Much Does the SAT Weigh for College Acceptance?

Standardized tests are a huge part of the college admission process.

You can consider the SAT as an objective and ‘efficient’ filter. Selective colleges use these test scores to facilitate their screening process.

Many universities are hesitant to disclose how much weight they put on SAT scores. The institutions that do give out information often have admissions criteria that reduce the importance of the SAT. The University of Georgia, for instance, states that it counts high school grades twice or thrice as much as standardized test scores.

SAT scores are a determining factor for which department and major you’ll get accepted to.Admissions officers have a tough job and huge responsibility and a burden of sorting through thousands of applications to find and select students that would be a good fit for their university. Because these admission officers are not robots but are humans that are in need of rest and can’t work non-stop, they’re simply not able to go through each application entirely.

Thus, every single piece of information matters when you’re tied neck-to-neck with another fellow applicant. This is where your SAT score can be your ‘make-it-or-break-it and weighs heavily on the decision of the admission officer; so, you either get the spot or you don’t.

With a great SAT score, you have the chance to impress a college admission officer at first glance.Let’s say admission officers narrowed their choices to 50 applicants. No matter how good your school grades are and how impressive your extracurriculars are, some colleges highly value SAT scores. So, between you and an applicant who scored 50 or 100 points higher than you, they will select the more desirable candidate.

We can’t know if each college gives more weight to high school grades or standardized test scores (SAT). So, improve areas of your SAT performance you didn’t know needed attention. Register for Ostaz’s SAT Online Revision Sessions.Taking standardized tests like the SAT demonstrates that you’re ‘college ready’. Colleges like to have an idea about who is most likely to succeed.

On average, SAT scores weigh 15% more than grades alone on predicting college performance or success.Now, you might be wondering, ‘Why does a person who will major in psychology need to have a good SAT math score?’ Well, all majors, from chemistry and engineering to anthropology and sociology require proficiency and a well-understanding of English and even to some degree, math.

3.Does the SAT predict college success?

SAT scores are considered to be predictive of college performance; students with higher SAT scores are more likely to have higher grades in college.Moreover, students who have higher SAT scores are more likely to come back to university for their second year.The SAT is a tool that colleges require to get an idea about your ‘college readiness’.

With SAT scores, universities detect how prepared or equipped a student is for AP courses or university-level courses.Using the SAT in conjunction with high school GPA (HSGPA) is the most powerful way to predict future academic performance.

4. What are SAT Scores Used for?

SAT scores are the first filter for narrowing down the pool of applicants.

Standardized Tests Allow Colleges to Find You

SAT tests put you on the lookout or on the radar for recruiters or offers that are impressed by your SAT score.You can be eligible for scholarships; so, a good or an impressive SAT score can get you a scholarship grant.

SAT Scores are Used to Determine Placement for Your College Classes

SAT test scores aren’t just useful for college admission committees. They can be useful to students (applicants) to narrow down their major choices. For instance, some engineering schools accept students who score above a certain SAT score, so you can narrow your choices by checking if you meet the criteria that universities and majors set.Colleges use SAT scores to place students in class levels that are suitable for them.For instance, many colleges use students ’ SAT Essay scores to place them in English courses in university as a beginner or advanced, depending on their essay score.Increase your chances of getting accepted by getting a good SAT score and by signing up for Ostaz’s Online SAT Prep course!

5. What do Colleges Look at in College Applications?

College admission officers review standardized test scores along with your high school GPA, the classes or curriculum you took and followed in high school, letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors, extracurricular activities, and personal essays or ‘college essays’.

Yes, SATs only assess your abilities or knowledge in English and maths, and yes, it might not be the most accurate assessment of your higher knowledge, but colleges and universities need it as a standardized baseline to compare applicants to some extent.

You can find out each university’s admission criteria by looking it up.

Little did you know, the SAT trains you for five beneficial skills.

6. What will you learn from the SAT?

Skill #1: Stress Management (performance under pressure)

The SAT experience teaches one how to manage stress and perform under a limited amount of time, which is anxiety-inducing and can make students nervous and anxious. Doing the SAT will train students to cope with stress and anxiety.

Skill #2: Time Management

You have 25 minutes or less for each section of the SAT which means there’s no time to waste. You have to go fast, but not too fast! The best way to manage your time is not to spend too much time on one question! Allocate a specific amount of time for each question and try not to exceed that duration.

Skill #3: Reading and Following Directions

The SAT developers love testing how closely you’re paying attention to the question, specifically in the math sections and with paired passages in the critical reading section. The wrong answer choices often have traps and tricks in them- answers giving the value of x when the question asks for y.

Skill #4: Scanning for Information

In the SAT Reading and Comprehension section, you need to be able to scan for relevant information.

Skill #5: Creative Solutions

SAT Math questions teach you to think outside the box to answer a question in the fastest way possible so that you save a lot of time.

7. Can SAT Scores Affect Your Future Career?

To some extent, yes. SAT Scores can actually change the course of your life.A 50-grade SAT score difference between you and other applicants might lead you to get rejected from your first choice or desired major, which will haunt you with ‘what if’s.

It’s important to note that your SAT score alone is not enough. At the end of the day, what will make you stand out are your personal accomplishments; however, to be considered for a spot in the first place, you will need to pass a certain bar or baseline, which in most colleges’ cases, are your standardized test scores.“At the end of the day, grades are important- they’re not all that matters, but colleges want to make sure students won’t fail and will keep up with their academic responsibility.” Cherine Mouharram

Want to get into an ivy league? Check out our podcast on "How to Get into an Ivy League" with Cherine Mouharram, a Harvard graduate, to get all the insight on top schools and college applications.


Sundquist, K. (2018, March 5). What You SAT Scores Really Mean in College Admissions. Retrieved from https://blog.collegevine.com/what-your-sat-scores-really-mean-in-college-admissions/

The Princeton Review. Retrieved from https://www.princetonreview.com/college/sat-information

Collegeboard. Retrieved from https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/pdf/national-sat-validity-study-overview-admissions-enrollment-leaders.pdf

SSA College Prep. (2021, February 25). Does the SAT Really Matter in 2021, WhenEveryone is Going Test-Optional?? Retrieved from https://www.socraticsummeracademy.com/blog/test-optional

Fink, L. (2013, March 21). What Skills Does the SAT Test? Retrieved from https://magoosh.com/hs/sat/what-skills-does-the-sat-test/Dr. Zhang, F. (2021, March 15). SAT test dates. Retrieved from https://blog.prepscholar.com/sat-test-dates


Is it OK to guess on the SAT? ›

First things first: There is no guessing penalty, so you've got nothing to lose by guessing. That wasn't always the case. Prior to March 2016, the SAT did have a guessing penalty; a quarter of a point was subtracted from your raw score for every wrong answer.

Does the SAT penalize for wrong answers 2023? ›

The SAT is relatively tricky, so you'll need to spend a lot of time studying. However, even the most prepared students can stumble across questions that leave them unsure. Remember, there's no SAT guessing penalty. You should always answer all questions, even if you need to guess.

What's the most common answer on SAT? ›

Sometimes it seems like “C”—or its equivalent, “H”—is the most common answer choice, but this is merely a myth. In fact, the answer choice orders on the ACT and SAT are generated by a computer and are entirely random.

What is the best guessing letter for SAT? ›

Guess any letter for any question. It doesn't matter if you guess A,B,A,B or A,A,A,A or any variation. Your expected number of correct answers are equal—actually, you'll actually do sliiightly better by guessing randomly on every question.

What is the best answer choice to guess on the ACT? ›

Most people (and tutors) tell students that, if they have no idea on a question, to just guess answer choice “C” — the middle answer on most multiple choice tests. That's fine advice if “C” is equally likely to be correct, which is not the case on the the last 10 questions of the ACT Math section.

What is the best letter to guess on a test? ›

C or H are right (and wrong) as often as any other answer choice. The only guess letter you don't want to use when you are completely guessing is E or K because they only show up on the math test.

How many answers can you get wrong on the SAT? ›

As you can see with the above SAT scoring chart, it's possible to get some questions wrong and still earn the max SAT score. Generally speaking, you can miss 1-2 questions on each section and still get a perfect 1600.


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