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Scolastic Aptitude Test (SAT)

Key To Success

The SAT I is a three-hour exam, divided into seven sections, although the SAT I consists of seven sections, your scores are based on only six of them. They are four 30-minute sections (two math and two verbal) and two 15-minute sections (one math and one verbal).

The seventh section is either a third 30-minute math section or a third 30-minute verbal section. It is what the ETS calls an "equating" section, but is commonly referred to as the "experimental" section. It is used to test out new questions for use on future exams.

However, because this extra section is identical in format to one of the other sections, there is no way for you to know which section is the experimental one, and so you must do your best on every section.

The Verbal Sections

There are three types of questions on the verbal portion of the SAT I:

  • sentence completion questions,

  • analogy questions, and

  • critical reading questions.

There are 78 questions in all, divided into three sections, each of which has its own for- mat. You should expect to see, although not necessarily in this order:

35-Question Verbal Section

Questions 1-10 sentence completion questions Questions 11-23 analogy questions

Questions 24-35 critical reading questions

30-Question Verbal Section

Questions 1-9 sentence completion questions Questions 10-15: analogy questions

Questions 16-30 critical reading questions

13-Question Verbal Section

Questions 1-13 critical reading questions on paired passages

As you see, the three verbal sections typically contain a total of 19 sentence completion questions, 19 analogies, and 40 critical reading questions. More than half the verbal questions on the SAT I directly test your reading.

Pay particular attention to how the first two of these sections are organized. These sections contain groups of sentence completion questions followed by groups of analogy questions. The groups of questions are arranged roughly in order of difficulty: They start out with easy warm-up questions and get more and more difficult as they go along. The critical reading questions, however, are not arranged in order of difficulty. Instead, they are arranged to follow the passage's organization: Questions about material found early in the passage come before questions about material occurring later. This information will be helpful to you in pacing yourself during the test.

NOTE: If the 30-minute experimental section on your SAT I is a verbal section, it will follow exactly the same format as one of the two 30-minute sections described above. Since, however, there will be no way for you to know which one of the 30-minute verbal sections on your test is experimental, you must do your best on each one.

Sometimes sentence completion questions contain two blanks rather than one. In answering these double-blank sentences, you must be sure that both words in your answer choice make sense in the original sentence.

Analogies

An analogy is a likeness. Your job is to figure out the relationship between a pair of words and then find the pair of words whose relationship is most like the one linking the original pair.

Critical Reading

Typically, a 30-question verbal section has two reading pas- sages; a 35-question verbal section usually has only one. Each of these passages is followed by from 5 to 13 critical reading questions. They ask about passage's main idea or specific details, the author's attitude' to the subject, the author's logic and techniques, the implications of the discussion, or the meaning of specific words.

The Mathematics Sections

There are three types of questions on the mathematics portion of the SAT I:

  • multiple-choice questions,

  • quantitative comparison questions, and

  • grid-in questions.

There are 60 questions in all, divided into three sections, each of which has its own format. You should expect to see, although not necessarily in this order:

  • 30-minute section with 25multiple-choice questions,

  • 30-minute section wit~f5 quantitative comparisons followed by 10 student-produced-response questions (grid-ins),

  • 15-minute section with 10 multiple-choice questions.

If the 30-minute experimental section on your SAT is a mathematics section, it will follow exactly the same format as one of the two 30-minute sections described above.

Since, however, there will be no way for you to know which section is experimental, you must do your best on each one.

Within each section the questions are arranged in order of increasing difficulty. The first few multiple-choice questions are quite easy; they are followed by several of medium difficulty; and the last few are considered hard. The quantitative comparisons and grid-ins also proceed from easy to difficult. As a result, the amount of time you spend on anyone question will vary greatly.

Multiple-Choice Questions

Of the 60 mathematics questions on the SAT l' 35 are multiple-choice questions. Although you have certainly taken multiple-choice tests before, the SAT I uses a few different types of questions, and you must become familiar with all of them. By far, the most common type of question is one in which you are asked to solve a problem. The straightforward way to answer such a question is to do the necessary work, get the solution, then look at the five choices and choose the one that corresponds to your answer.

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