The SAT may refer to the SAT Reasoning Test, which covers critical reading, mathematics, and writing, or the SAT Subject Tests, offered in a variety of fields. This article will review what you need to prepare for the various SAT exams.

The Various SAT Tests

The SAT Reasoning Test is a college admissions test with three sections:

  • Critical Reading
  • Mathematics
  • Writing

The SAT Subject Tests is a set of 20 tests (in early 2009) in five areas, as follows:

  • Englishâ€"Literature
  • Historyâ€"U.S. History; World History
  • Mathematicsâ€"Mathematics Level 1; Mathematics Level 2
  • Scienceâ€"Biology (Ecological or Molecular); Chemistry; Physics
  • Languagesâ€"Chinese (Listening); French; French (Listening); German; German (Listening); Spanish; Spanish (Listening); Modern Hebrew; Italian; Latin; Japanese (Listening); Korean (Listening)

Steps to Prepare for SAT Reasoning

There are a variety of steps you can take to prepare for any SAT tests you plan to take.

1. Do a careful job on your school work.

Critical reading, mathematics, and writing underlie much of what goes on in school. By doing your school work, you bolster your skills in these areas.

2. Study for and take the PSAT/NMSQT. The PSAT/NMSQT is a standardized test that was designed to provide firsthand practice for the SAT Reasoning Test. The name PSAT/NMSQT is an abbreviation for Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Taking the test enters you in the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) scholarship programs.

Many tests in school have a looser approach than that of standardized tests. This test will give you some experience with what the SAT is going to be like, in terms of format, types of questions, etc. You can use your experience with it to make good decisions for yourself about how to behave for the SAT.

3. Go to and read about the test.

You may as well know as much as you can, right?

4. Get your own copy of the sign-up bulletin, and take advantage of any practice materials provided. Registering early may be important for you to be able to take the test at the test center of your choice, so don't put it off. Also, choose which colleges to send your test scores to (you can do this later, if you like).

5. Take advantage of the daily free question on the website. It is called “The Official SAT Question of the Day.

6. Take advantage of the free Official SAT Practice Test on the website. It is called Official SAT Practice Test.

7. Don't miss out on other practice questions provided by The section is called “Official SAT Practice Questions” and covers each of the three sections of the SAT Reasoning exam.

8. Consider purchasing SAT preparation books either from the College Board or other publishers.

9. Consider any SAT course preparation offered by your high school. Ask your guidance counselor for more information.

10. Consider an SAT online course, available through It is called “The Official SAT Online Course.”

11. Consider Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions offerings at, Barron's Test-Prep at  or other test preparation training. Kaplan offers an SAT QuizBank that is Free with a sign up at

12. Tutoring is another possibility for test preparation. Kaplan and others offer tutoring courses.

Steps to Prepare for SAT Subject Tests

Subject test preparation is more specific and differentiated, so you will do well to look at the SAT Subject Test Preparation Center and use the drop-down menu to choose the specific test(s) you are planning to take. After choosing a test, you will receive general hints and tips, and an opportunity to view the test format and sample questions. Some subject tests have Web Resources available as well.

As with the SAT Reasoning Tests, there are preparation materials available for the SAT Subject Tests, both through the College Board, as well as through other organizations, like Barron's and Kaplan.

N.B. As of early 2009, the College Board has made a policy change about students being able to pick and choose which test scores to send, and a number of colleges have objected. Check carefully to see what options you have at the time that you sign up for the SAT tests.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

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