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This wasn’t always the case: when the College Board introduced the SAT in 1926, the exam was called the Scholastic Aptitude Test.  Since then, it has been through changes both in name and content. In 1990, it was renamed the Scholastic Assessment Test.  Soon, the College Board settled for SAT as an empty acronym and changed the name of the test to SAT I: Reasoning Test. Finally, the Roman numeral was dropped. Now the test is known as the SAT Reasoning Test, popularly called the SAT.

The changes make for a fascinating story; one that is rooted in the history of the exam. The exam was originally devised as a sort of an ‘intelligence test’. It was supposed to measure ‘aptitude’, which was considered an innate quality almost akin to a person’s height or hair color. The test makers asserted that students could not ‘prepare’ for the SAT.  Test-takers and The Princeton Review (TPR) did not agree! If the test results were important, they were going to prepare for the test and do as well as they could. It soon became clear that smart work and diligent preparation helped get great SAT scores.


Most colleges in the USA require an undergraduate applicant to submit the SAT score. In many other countries, several colleges either accept or require SAT scores for undergraduate admissions. While admissions committees do consider other factors: including grades, transcripts, essays, extra-curricular activities, and contribution to the community, the SAT score is a critical criterion to get into a competitive undergrad school.

The New SAT

In 2016 we got big changes in the SAT. The content and the test structure of the New SAT are very different from those of the SAT administered till January 2016. So at least for a while, we can expect everybody to call the test the ‘New SAT.

Section Test Duration Number of Question
Verbal Section Evidence-based Reading 65 Minutes 52
Writing and Language 35 Minutes 44
Math Calculator not allowed 25 Minutes 20
Calculator allowed 55 Minutes 38
Essay Total 230 Minutes 154
Optional 50 Minutes 1 Task
SAT Score

SAT scores are reported on a scale from 200-800, with additional sub – scores reported for the ESSAY (ranging from 2-12). Each scorer award 1–4 points for each dimension: READING, ANALYSIS, and WRITING.

Score Validity

SAT scores are valid for a period five years.