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Breaking Down the SATs

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Oct 10, 2016

The SATs are primarily for schools based in the US . In March 2016, the SAT underwent its biggest changes in 30 years. Taking the SATs was one of the biggest obstacles for myself as well as for a lot of the people I knew who applied abroad. A lot of our free time in the senior year went to SAT prep and you’d even find SAT books in our gym and school bags. This article will explain to you what the three SATs are all about PSAT, SAT Reasoning, and the SAT Subject Tests.

A bunch of the SAT books I used for preparation

PSATNMSQ/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test

The PSAT(Pre-SAT) is in a way a primer for the SAT Reasoning. The PSAT is a great way to prepare for the SAT proper, and you can use your scores on the PSAT to gauge what you need to improve on most before taking the SATs. There’s a PSAT 8/9, which is taken in grades 8 or 9 and the PSAT 10 which is taken in grade 10. Both serve to measure the competencies that you will need for the SAT proper, the difference being the PSAT 8/9 being more basic and the PSAT 10 being more complex.
Things to know:

This test does not affect your college admissions. You DO NOT send your PSAT scores to the colleges you will be applying to.
This is also a test used to determine who will qualify for the National Merit Scholarship program amongst US Citizens.
To register, need to go to the school that administers the test. There is a list online available on the college board. (For more information search here)
SAT 1/ SAT Reasoning

This test is for colleges can see how prepared you are to enter tertiary education. It is accepted by all US colleges, as well as several colleges in other parts of the world like Asia.

Things you need to know:

The SAT 1 tests aptitude, meaning foundational skills in reading, writing, and math. It does NOT test your knowledge on specific subjects
Filipinos have to take the test at schools that administer the test (Some examples include BSM, ISM, Reedley, and Brent). Registration is done at the College Board website. There’s a deadline for registration for each testing day, so make sure to register at least a month beforehand.
It costs roughly 100$ to register for international students for each test, fee waivers available if you live in the US/US territory or are a US citizen living outside the USA.
When you send scores to schools, there’s a fee per school about 11 dollars
Some schools allow you to send your highest scores only (a.k.a. “score choice”) if you took the test twice or more. However, some schools do not allow a practicing of score choice. Make sure to look up the requirements for each school.

SAT 2/ SAT Subject Tests

This test is for colleges to determine your level in specific subjects such as math or history. You can take the SAT 2 subject tests at any time in your high school, and don’t need to take them in any order. I recommend you plan your SAT subject tests in an order that makes the most sense for you. For example, a lot of the material covered on the SAT 2 Biology test was covered in my IB Biology program, so it made sense for me to wait until senior year to take it.

Things that you need to know:

Registration policy is the same as that of the SAT reasoning. On test day, you can choose to add tests (you will be billed later) or take a test that is different from the one you registered for.
With that being said, studying for my other subject tests took a lot of time that could have gone to other things, so try not to cram your tests. In senior year, I had to take a subject test every month from September to December because I ended up taking some tests (Math) twice.Try not to do that. While you can take the subject tests as many times as you want to, preparing for them takes a lot of time. If you crammed them like I did then you might end up getting unsatisfactory scores or take too few tests. It’s perfectly fine to take some subject tests as early as second or third (sometimes even first) year.
Some colleges require SAT 2 test scores. Most of the schools that I applied to in the US recommended that we take at least 2. Look up the testing requirements of each school that you are interested in applying to make sure you take sufficiently many scores.

On a final note, do bear in mind that your SAT scores don’t define you or your intelligence. At the end of the day, your SAT score is still just a score. With hard work, you can improve it. The first time I took the Math 2C I got a 610. A month later I manage to bring that up to a 740(which is still eh but substantially better). Don’t let a low score discourage you from pursuing your goals.

 

 

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