Now that more and more outstanding Australian students have begun to study at elite universities in the US or UK, more and more people have become conscious and accepting in an option to study abroad. Hence, for the students and parents who just started to do their research, we wrote this article to briefly answer 10 most common questions they asked about the SAT exam, a standardized test widely used for college admissions in the United States.
1. What is the purpose of taking the SAT?
As an objective basis for measuring applicants’ academic ability and academic level, the SAT is accepted by all prestigious universities in the United States. For Australian high school students, if you want to apply for a prestigious American university, then the SAT is a must take exam. This requirement has nothing to do with your study of VCE or IB as those are formed only as a basis from your high school performance.
2. When is SAT test held every year?
For students outside the United States, the SAT has four exams per year: March, May, October, and December. The exams for these months are held on the first or second Saturday.
3. How many times can I take the SAT and how long is an SAT score valid for?
The SAT’s governing body College Board places no restrictions on how often and how many times students can take the SAT. Generally speaking, the more you take the exam, the lower the quality of your grades. The SAT scores are valid over a period of 5 years. Most students take the SAT after Year 9 and ensure their scores are valid.
4. What does the SAT test?
The SAT tests three main items: reading, grammar, and mathematics, with a total score of 1600. But there is also a special SAT test called Subject Tests, which is a separate test to examine the academic ability of students in mathematics, physics, chemistry, literature and other subjects.
5. Where can I take the SAT in Australia?
Every state in Australia has at least one SAT test centre. For Melbourne students, unfortunately, Victoria has relatively fewer test sites. The usual test sites are Geelong College, Melbourne Grammar, Haileybury, etc., depending on each exam. Generally, the test sites in Melbourne will be full very quickly. As a result, each exam must be registered in advance. Keep your eye on the information on College Board.
6. How important is the SAT for US undergraduate applications?
SAT is used to measure academic competency of applicants coming from diverse education background, making it a critical component in admission process. However, there is no certain score requirement in every school. That is to say, there is no guarantee that an applicant will be admitted if he or she has a certain SAT score. However, in today’s highly competitive admissions process, a solid SAT score is a necessity for most applicants. It is best to reach a satisfactory score as soon as possible and then focus on other aspects of the application.
7. So what is a solid SAT score?
Similar to the answer to the above question, there is no clear-cut line to evaluate SAT score. For students applying to different universities, what score you need is completely different. As of this year, the SAT curve is becoming steeper. Reaching a high score of 1500 and above is getting harder. Generally speaking, a score is deemed high if it is 1500 or above, but 1550 or above is very ideal. It must be repeated that a high score itself does not guarantee that you will get admission to any prestigious school.
8. How hard is the SAT?
The SAT is challenging and intense. According to our experience, for high school students studying in Australia, grammar is a common difficulty that everyone has encountered at the beginning. This is because grammar is not that systematically taught and tested in Australia, regardless the educational curriculum you are studying.
Along the way, the differences in students’ English foundation will be more obvious. Especially for non-native English speakers, the biggest challenge of SAT is reading, because the intensity of reading are far beyond the requirement of IB or local curriculums like VCE or HSC.
9. When should you take the SAT
We recommend that students take the SAT as soon as possible when you are equipped with adequate English proficiency. Preparing the SAT takes time, and there is often conflict with the busy schoolwork in the Year 11 and Year 12. Through our long-term systematic study and the short-term intensive course during the holidays, you can strive to achieve your target score. There are also school holidays before the SAT test dates in March, May and October, so these three exam opportunities should be taken advantage of.
10. How should Australian high school students prepare?
It depends on your English and quantitative proficiency. If your goal is to achieve a high score on the SAT, then you will need to spend extra time building a solid grammar foundation. In addition, you should read more to expand your knowledge. Mathematical part needs practice. Before you officially start preparing for the SAT, you may want to find your own gap through a mock test. Using the free resources on College Board and Khan Academy can give you a jump start.