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What is the SAT?

The SAT has long been considered the de facto standardized test for college admission in the United States. It underwent major changes in 2016, and the redesigned SAT is composed of the following sections:

Format Score range Focus
Critical Reading 52 MC Questions (65 minutes) 200-800
  • Words in context
    Proper understanding of the meaning and use of words and phrases in context of extended prose passages
  • Command of evidence
    Identification of evidence in support of claims made
  • Informational graphics
    Interpretation of data given in the form of tables, graphs, and charts
Writing and Language 44 MC Questions (35 minutes)
Math Non-calculator section 200-800
  • Algebra
    Solving linear equations, system of linear equations, and inequalities
  • Data Analysis
    Ratio and proportions, percentages, basic probabilities, representation and analysis of quantitative data
  • Advanced Mathematics
    Functions, Quadratics, polynomials, trigonometry, and Geometry
15 MC and 5 grid-in questions
(25 minutes)
Calculator section
30 MC and 8 grid-in questions
(55 minutes)
1 essay prompt (50 minutes) Essays are graded according to the following criteria:

  • Reading
    Understanding and accurate representation of central ideas in the source text
  • Analysis
    Analyzing the source text and using appropriate evidence to support and develop claims made
  • Writing
    Quality of writing in terms of essay organization, sentence structure, preciseness of word choice, and command of standard written English

Compared to the old SAT you might have read about, the new SAT is designed to be more modern and relevant to high school students. The focus of the test has shifted from reasoning skills to knowledge and understanding of concepts, and there are no longer any sentence completion questions to test your knowledge of obscure vocabularies.

What are the SAT subject tests?

The SAT subject tests are subject-based standardized tests, offered in 20 different subjects. Many of the more selective colleges require or recommend students to submit at least two SAT subject test scores as part of their application.


All US Universities accept both SAT and ACT and do not prefer one test over the other. Therefore, you should find out which test suits you better by taking diagnostic tests, and select the one that gives you a scoring advantage. You can also check out the following table to find out whether SAT or ACT is likely to be a better match for you:

You are likely to do well in SAT if …
  • You prefer to take your time in tests and are good at spotting traps in questions
  • You are used to doing math without a calculator
  • You are good at analyzing texts and writing commentaries
You are likely to do well in ACT if …
  • You work fast and rarely run out of time in tests at school
  • You are good at using a calculator
  • You like science
  • You are good at interpreting data from charts and tables

Keep in mind that a small list of universities and colleges accepts the ACT in lieu of both the SAT and the SAT subject tests. This notably includes Duke University, Rice University, and Tufts University.

When should I take the SAT

Outside of the US, the SAT is offered every year in March, May, October, and December; and the SAT subject tests are offered in May, June, October, November, and December. Plan ahead if you intend to take the SAT subject test, as you cannot take both the SAT and the SAT subject test(s) on the same day.

Taking the SAT more than once (retesting) is recommended as most students improved their SAT score in their second testing.

Improve your SAT result at CANA

Our SAT instructors are graduates of the most elite U.S. universities who attained top scores in standardized tests. They have all been carefully selected by virtue of communication skills and coaching ability.

In contrast to other SAT courses offered at other education centers, lessons at CANA are tailor-made to meet the specific needs of each individual student, reviewing all topics and placing emphasis on strengthening areas of weakness. Our test prep track record is stellar: on average, our SAT students improve their score by 300 points; over 90% of our students score 660+ in the reading and writing section, and over 85% score 700+ in the Math section.

Intensive courses for AP are now accepting enrollment at selected CANA centres. The course schedules are available here.

Our SAT Tutors


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