The Scholastic Aptitude Test originated between the years of 1923 to 1926 when Carl C. Brigham started working with administering IQ tests and studying American intelligence. He administered an objective version of a test to college freshman and incoming college applicants. By the 1940s, the test was used as the industry standard for college admissions and was administered to more than 300,000 people across the country.

SAT Facts

The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is a standardized test of academic ability and general intellectual ability. It is generally used for college admissions. The SAT is widely used for college admissions because it serves as a predictor of academic success. While the SAT does not measure intelligence, it does measure several components that make up a person’s intellectual ability.

The SAT is used an indicator of future performance and an overall assessment of academic ability. This is why the SAT is a good option for students to take. Additionally, most universities and colleges take SAT scores as part of the admission process. It is a highly versatile exam and widely accepted for admissions by the vast majority of colleges and universities.

SAT Sections

The updated SAT includes 3 main sections: Math, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and the optional essay. The reading and writing sections make up the verbal portion of the SAT. The reading and writing and math SAT sections are required.

Test takers will first answer a writing prompt and then complete two reading sections. Then, they will complete two math sections, one writing section and one experimental section. These are followed by an additional but shorter reading, math and writing sections.

The breakdown of each section is as follows:

  • Critical Reading & Writing: reading test, written and language test
  • Math: application-based, core math competencies and theories
  • Essay: optional

The format of the SAT is a paper and pencil test, however, computer-based testing will be an option. Additionally, expect the test to last at least 3 hours without the essay portion or closer to 4 hours with the essay portion. These times do not account for breaks during the examination.

SAT Verbal Section: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

The SAT has undergone several significant changes within the past few years. Most notably, the expansion of the verbal section. Prior to 2016, the SAT had only two main sections: verbal and math. The two sections today are identified as math and evidence-based reading and writing.

The critical reading and writing sections of the current SAT are almost identical to the previous verbal section with the exception of the analogy questions. These questions have been eliminated from the test. Despite the changes, the evidence-based reading and writing section still measures a test taker’s verbal abilities.Therefore, your evidence-based reading and writing score will be your verbal SAT score.

How the SAT Is Scored

The range of SAT scores is from 400 to 1,600. This is a total composite score for all of the sub tests. For each sub test, the range of SAT scores is 200 to 800 for each section. These sub test scores add up for your total composite score. A perfect SAT score is 1,600. If you are wondering if anyone has ever gotten a 1600 on the SAT, the answer is yes.

Remember, the score is calculated by adding up the questions that are answered correctly. The SAT does not penalize test-takers for incorrect answers.

While the composite score is important, you will also want to determination what your percentile rank is. The percentile rank determines the percentage of other test-takers that scored above and below you. For example, if your SAT percentile rank was in the 70th percentile, this means that you scored better than 70 percent of all test takers.

Use this guide to determine your rank:

  • Scores ranging from 1,500 to 1,600 = 99th percentile
  • Scores ranging from 1,000 to 1,100 = 40th – 60th percentile
  • Scores ranging from 800 to 950 = 10th – 30th percentile
  • Scores ranging from 650 to 750 = 1st – 5th percentile

SAT Verbal Score: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

Each section of the SAT is scored with a range of 200 to 800. For example, the math sections will get a score of 200 to 800, and the evidence-based reading and writing, the verbal section of the SAT will get a verbal score of 200 to 800. Use an SAT score calculator to see that together, the two sections will give you a composite score of 400 to 1,600.

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About the Author

Melanie Forstall has a doctorate in education and has worked in the field of education for over 20 years. She has been a teacher, grant writer, program director, and higher education instructor. She is a freelance writer specializing in education, and education related content. She writes for We Are Teachers, School Leaders Now, Classroom, Pocket Sense, local parenting magazines, and other professional academic outlets. Additionally, she has co-authored book chapters specializing in providing services for students with disabilities.