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SAT Exam Preparation Tips: Updated Pattern and Syllabus 2020

Written by  Rachit Agrawal, MBA

Published on Thu, January 18, 2018 1:27 PM   Updated on Sat, February 26, 2022 5:44 AM   8 mins read

SAT is a standardized test taken for admission in colleges of US.  It’s run by the College Board, a non-profit organization that also administers the PSAT and the AP (Advanced Placement) program. SAT was originally adapted from Army IQ tests. SAT exam syllabus consists of topics related to reading, writing, and mathematics.

What is the SAT Exam Pattern?

This test aims to show schools how prepared you are for college by measuring key skills like reading comprehension, computational ability, and clarity of expression and critical thinking.

Check Out: SAT Exam Dates 2020 India

What is the  SAT Exam Syllabus?

SAT has three topic areas to deal with- Critical Reading, Maths, and Writing. Critical Reading and Maths comprise of two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section whereas the writing section comprises three parts- 25-minute essay, 25- minute and 10-minute sections.

SAT Exam Preparation

Scoring of SAT comprises of a total score between 600 and 2400, which is the sum of reading, math, and writing scores between 200 and 800. To prepare for the SAT there are several guidebooks and tutorial classes available. It is no big exam to crack if you have strategized well.

Before we proceed towards the syllabus, let us understand the ways by which one can strategize to study for the exam.

Check Out: SAT Syllabus

How to prepare for the SAT?

SAT as mentioned, is no big deal to get through it at the right time you set your targets and priorities well. Here are some tips that will help you greatly to strategize better-

  1. Firstly, you are required to set a target. Target in terms of score and completion of the syllabus. Once you decide this, start striving to achieve this target.
  2. Once you decide your target score, assess your starting or base score. You know where you stand and accordingly start working. This will give you an idea of the amount of hard work you will have to put in.
  3. Calculate your time efficiently and allocate hours to each section. Stick to this chart strictly.
  4. Once all these aspects are worked on, choose a test date so that you know exactly how much time you will have to prepare and gear up.
  5. Gather study material from different sources beforehand so that no time is wasted searching for materials. Now, let us go through the syllabus to understand the implementation of these tips in a better way.

Check Out: SAT Syllabus

What is the SAT Syllabus and Test Pattern?

  1. SAT exam takes place in two types- General Test and Subject Test. Where on one hand Subject-based test tests your skill on the hold of a specific subject, the general based exam is comparatively common of the two and holds the most relevant position for the students aiming to seek education abroad.
  2. Here, we will discuss the syllabus of the General SAT exam.
    SAT exam tests the reading/writing, mathematics and optional essay section of a student. The organization of the test is as follows-

Check Out: Exams to study abroad after 12th

SAT Exam Syllabus

The Reading Section consists of comprehension type passages which include 10-12 question for every 5 passages. The main concern and focus of this syllabus are to assess the skills of a student, whether or not the implementation and understanding are strong and also tests the proficiency of the language. The candidate is expected to know the meaning of words in context, along with associated variations in implied meanings and impact due to the exact word usage.

The Writing Section involves 4 passages, with each passage similarly consisting of  10-11 questions. A candidate is expected to spot errors, rephrase marked/highlighted sentences with better alternatives, etc. The main focal point revolves around the usage and understanding of grammar and its implementation in a required manner.

To ace this section, a lot of practice and reading habit is required. One who pursues it regularly emerges with flying colors. Also, is advised to improved vocabulary and understand the importance of connecting words.

Check Out: Exams to study abroad after 12th

What is the SAT Exam Syllabus for the Mathematics Section?

The mathematics section consists of  Algebra and functions – 25 mins, Geometry Statistics – 20 mins and Probability and Data analysis – 20 mins. There will be 54 questions at all. 44 of them are multiple-choice. For the remaining ten questions, you will have to find answers on your own.

As it is advised by all, to score best in this section all you are required to do is practice in ample amount. Only regular practice will help you understand your areas of weaknesses which will ultimately help you to score better. There is no formula to score best in this section overnight. It requires a lot of dedication, hard work, and commitment to score in this section. Here is a list of topics you are required to consider to prepare for this section-

  1. Solving linear equations and linear inequalities
  2. Interpreting linear functions
  3. Linear inequality and equation word problems
  4. Graphing linear equations
  5. Linear function word problems
  6. Systems of linear inequalities word problems
  7. Solving systems of linear equations
  8. Solving quadratic equations
  9. Interpreting nonlinear expressions
  10. Quadratic and exponential word problems
  11. Radicals and rational exponents
  12. Operations with rational expressions and polynomials
  13. Polynomial factors and graphs
  14. Nonlinear equation graphs
  15. Linear and quadratic systems
  16. Structure in expressions
  17. Isolating quantities
  18. Functions
  19. Ratios, rates, and proportions
  20. Percents
  21. Units
  22. Table data
  23. Scatterplots
  24. Key features of graphs
  25. Linear and exponential growth
  26. Data inferences
  27. Center, spread, and shape of distributions
  28. Data collection and conclusions
  29. Volume word problems
  30. Right Triangle word problems
  31. Congruence and similarity
  32. Right triangle geometry
  33. Angles, arc lengths, and trig functions
  34. Circle: Equations and theorems
  35. Complex numbers

Check Out: Toughest Exam in the World- Can you crack it?

What is the SAT Exam Syllabus for Essay (Optional)?

The essay section is optional and aims to test the reading, analysis and writing skills. The students are required to produce a written analysis of a provided source text in such a way that it satisfies the question given. A candidate is given 25 minutes to present his stand on the topic given. Therefore, the presentation should be crisp and expressive.

The length of the essay should range from 650-700. Also, a precise language in a logical and consistent manner is expected. Only a good and strong presentation fetch best scores.

Check Out: English for Competitive Exams

What are the tips for the SAT exam?

SAT requires strategy even when you are answering your paper. This is not an exam where you mug up and write down the questions asked. A lot of analysis and strategizing is required while answering. These are some of the tips you should keep in mind to perform better during the exam-

  1. The first step towards better SAT scores is to understand your mistakes and the area of weaknesses. Once you understand this, you can work better on these areas to improve your score.
  2. Mistakes usually fall into four categories- content weakness, time pressure, comprehension question issues and careless error. While in practice session, focus majorly on these aspects.
  3. Connotation and context play an essential role. This is beneficial in solving tough questions. Thus, master these two Cs
  4. Read the comprehension with strategy. Note all the whys and hows and while reading the passage marks the answers to the questions asked.
  5. Learn to find direct evidence in the passage or chart you are referencing to support your answers. This can be possible only through practicing and working on this aspect is essential.
  6. In the maths section, memorize the formulas and try to solve questions in less time by underlining key points. This will save your time and prevent you from re-reading the question again.
  7. Analyze the topic for the essay before you start writing and improve on vocabulary parts. Try to keep the essay structure.
  8. Time yourself accordingly and skip the difficult question if you are facing a shortage of time.
  9. Also, double check the answers and for that time yourself.

What are the Websites for SAT Exam Preparation?

Besides the developer, the College Board, there are several other websites that provide high quality, free of cost materials for preparation of SAT. Listing a few of them below-

  1. Free SAT Resources at PrepScholar
  2. PrepScholar Informational and Strategy SAT Guides
  3. Erica Meltzer’s The Critical Reader
  4. Erik the Red
  5. College Confidential
  6. net
  7. Khan Academy

Thus, these tips will help you to prepare for the SAT and at the same time will be helpful while answering the exam. Besides this, all you are required to have is a lot of mental strength because where there is a will there’s away!

Hence, it is obvious that the SAT exam is extremely crucial towards one’s foreign university aspirations. With ample practice and proper preparation, one could easily pass this exam and move forward towards one’s dreams.

Check Out:

  1. SAT- All you need to know
  2. SAT Syllabus
  3. SAT Registration
  4. SAT Results and Scores
  5. SAT Dates
  6. SAT Test Centres
  7. SAT Practice Papers
  8. SAT Preparation Tips

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About the Author & Expert


Rachit Agrawal

Author • MBA • 20 Years

Rachit believes in the power of education and has studied from the top institutes of IIIT Allahabad, IIM Calcutta, and Francois Rabelias in France. He has worked as Software Developer with Microsoft and Adobe. Post his MBA, he worked with the world's # 1 consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group across multiple geographies US, South-East Asia and Europe.

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