The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) is a standardized test that measures the ability of Bachelor candidates to study at US universities and colleges.

The SAT exists for over 100 years. Originally the abbreviation SAT stood for Scholastic Achievement Test and later for Scholastic Assessment Test. For some years now, the short form has become established in everyday language.

The non-profit organization College Board has been running the SAT since its inception. Today, more than 6,000 U. S. universities and other educational institutions are members of the Examination Board.

Target group of SAT

The SAT is almost always obligatory for local bachelor applicants. However, the ACT is also often accepted. The following guidelines apply in principle:

  • International applicants for Bachelor’s degree courses in the USA do not have to take the SAT. Therefore, it is advisable to carefully examine the application requirements of the desired university.
  • If the university requires SAT from international applicants, this includes applicants from the German-speaking countries. Good grades in the Abitur or Matura cannot replace SAT.
  • Students who are already enrolled as a transfer student and wish to transfer to a higher semester of a Bachelor’s program at a U. S. university do not usually have to take the SAT.

SAT and SAT Subject Tests

The Scholastic Assessment Test examines the three areas of Mathematics, Critical Reading and Creative Writing. In addition to this general SAT exam, there are also SAT Subject Tests with more subject-specific examination modules. These supplement the general part and are also mandatory at some U. S. universities.

The SAT Subject Tests can be taken in up to three examination modules. There are 20 examination modules from five subject areas (English, History, Languages, Mathematics and Science) to choose from.

Before you start to prepare for the SAT, you should check whether the general SAT at the desired university is sufficient or whether additional SAT Subject Tests are necessary.

Test contents and test structure of the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test)

The general SAT lasts 3 hours and 45 minutes, whereas the SAT Subject Tests take one hour.

Structure of the general SAT

The time required for the general SAT is divided into three areas as follows:

  • The critical reading section takes 70 minutes. Here you can answer multiple-choice questions about given text passages and complete sentences.
  • There are also 70 minutes available for the examination in Mathematics. Here, there are mostly multiple-choice questions and some tasks without pre-defined answer options.
  • The writing session is scheduled to last 60 minutes. Here it is important to write an essay, correct mistakes in given sentences and improve sentences in the context of the whole paragraph or text.

SAT Subject Tests

The SAT Subject Tests contain multiple-choice questions on the respective subject area.

Some modules have special features: In the case of the language modules, for example, there is an examination part for listening comprehension. This requires a CD player with earplugs. A (graphical) calculator must be brought along with the math modules. The test participants will of course receive all necessary information in advance about the equipment to be brought along.

SAT rating system

Each of the three areas of the general SAT is rated from 200 (low) to 800 (high) points. The maximum score is the sum of the individual scores.

In the area of writing, two subscores are added: for the multiple-choice part there are 20 to 80 points, for essay 2 to 12.

The SAT Subject Tests also have a rating scale of 200 to 800 points.

Test participants have the opportunity to repeat the SAT and SAT Subject Tests to improve their score.

Preparation for the Scholastic Assessment Test

Since the outcome of the Scholastic Assessment Test has a major impact on the chances of admission to the desired university, many US students start preparing early on. This is often done in private preparatory courses.

In many cases, high school supports students in the preparatory phase. As they spend months working specifically towards the SAT, most students are familiar with the test structure and situation at the examination date.

For applicants from the German-speaking countries, however, standardized tests such as the SAT are often „uncharted territory“. Therefore, it is particularly important for them to prepare themselves intensively and purposefully for the test.

College Board offers various learning aids. The official website of the SAT offers free practice questions and a complete SAT for practice. There are also learning materials that are subject to a fee, such as a study guide on DVD or an online course.

Test centres and examination dates for the SAT

There are numerous test centres around the world offering SAT and SAT Subject Tests.

  • Providers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland: mostly international schools
  • Examination dates: six dates per year; one date each in January, May, June, October, November and December
  • Combination of SAT and SAT Subject Tests: up to three SAT Subject Tests in addition to the general SAT at one examination date possible

The test centres that offer the desired examination date can be found on the official SAT website of College Board. There, students can register online for the SAT up to four weeks before the desired date.

Costs and payment options

The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) generally costs US$ 51 and additional fees apply for examinations outside the USA. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland they are currently US$ 35.

A registration fee of US$ 24.50 is charged for SAT Subject Test, US$ 13 for each SAT Subject Test module and US$ 24 for a language module with a hearing comprehension, and US$ 35 for examinations outside the USA.

The total price is US$ 86 for the SAT and US$ 72.50 to US$ 83.50 for a SAT Subject Test. For each additional Subject Test, US$ 13 or US$ 24 will be added.

Payment of the fees is currently possible by credit card, PayPal, check (only via an account at a US bank) or bank draft.

Official website of the SAT: