What is the SAT?

A test as important and influential as the SAT elicits strong opinions. Some high school students may complain that the SAT is a waste of time or a cruel implement of torture, while other teens might call the test a rite of passage or a gateway to better colleges. Educational professionals, college counselors, and parents may all have different and often conflicting takes on this towering test.

According to the testmaker itself, the SAT is “the College Board’s flagship college and career readiness assessment.”

For nearly a century, it has been used successfully worldwide in combination with factors such as high school GPA to assess student preparedness for and to predict student success in postsecondary education. Each year the sat is taken by more than 1.6 million students and used by thousands of high school counselors and postsecondary admission officers around the world.

Even that definition may be too long. Basically, the SAT–not Scholastic Aptitude Test or Student Assessment Test, but just SAT–is a standardized test used primarily as an entrance exam by colleges and universities in the United States, serving both as a path to and predictor of college and career readiness and success. The SAT may also serve as a criterion for scholarship awards or advanced undergraduate programs. In addition, many states use the SAT Suite of Assessments for state testing purposes. Regardless of other uses, the SAT is first and foremost an American college admissions test.


College Board page on the SAT


What does the SAT cover?
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Which is harder, SAT or ACT?
What is the PSAT?

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