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Studying in the USA: Why are SAT examinations so important?

SAT exam is the key to study in the USA

If your dream is to study in the USA then you have to pass the SAT exam. What is it? How can I revise and prepare for it? How long will it take me to get ready to sit it?

What is the SAT exam?

SAT (the so-called Standardised Aptitude Test) is the basic requirement for evaluating applicants, whether they come from within the USA or from abroad. The first thing admissions boards look at is the number of SAT points a candidate has gained. Once you have passed the SAT you can also use it to apply to a number of European universities (for example, Bocconi in Italy, as well as universities in Finland and  the  UK) .

What does the SAT exam consist of?

From 2016 onwards, the SAT is made up of two parts: Maths and English-based Reading and Writing (critical and logical thinking in reading and grammar) and the answers  are in a multiple-choice format. The highest possible score is 1600 points. In addition, you can also decide to do the optional essay, which is marked individually – but be aware that many universities expect you to do the essay, optional or not!

More than average

If your school results  have normally been average, and you know that you can’t improve them, you can still study in the USA!  In these circumstances, the admissions board  views high SATs scores as a major  advantage. You will therefore have an opportunity to demonstrate that you work hard and are determined to reach your goals – and you will get a place at an American university.

Apart from the SATs, the next important criterion in the admissions process is  for applicants to show that they are actively involved in extracurricular activities. We will come back to this point  in a separate section.

Below, you will find a list of average SAT scores  for a number of well-known American universities. Of course, it is important to realise that the SAT score is not everything, but if you manage to get close to the median scores, this will significantly improve your chances of being accepted.

University                                                                             Median SAT Scores (25th-75th percentile)

Princeton University                                                           1430-1570 

Stanford University#                                                          1420-1570

Harvard University                                                              1470-1570

MIT                                                                                       1500-1570

Columbia University                                                           1450-1560                                  

University of Miami                                                            1250-1430                                        

Washington State University                                           1020-1210                         

University of South Florida                                              1170-1330                           

University of Texas                                                            1230-1480

Arizona State University                                              1130-1360

University of Minnesota                                              1260-1480

Source: The Princeton Review

A better chance of receiving a scholarship

A high SAT score will not only maximise your chances of getting accepted  by a university which takes your financial situation into account (need-based scholarship), but will also help you to gain a merit-based scholarship.

How difficult is the SAT?

The SAT is demanding in terms of  having to concentrate intensively for a number of hours. The examination itself lasts for four hours, but if you include the time between arriving at the centre and the moment you leave , then count six to seven hours.

It is important to note that you can sit the SAT in Poland! If you are 12-18 months away from the January application cycle, now is the time to start revising and sit and pass your SAT.

Revising for the SAT

You need to  work through a great many exercises, and this could even take a few months to complete. You need to master the content which is tested in the examination, and to learn techniques which will help you to find answers quickly and efficiently, so that you do not end up running out of time.

The sooner you start preparing for the SAT, the better your final score will be! A high score will mean that  you can apply to a broader selection of universities, and are more likely to get a scholarship!

When should I sit the SAT?

If you want to start studying in the USA  in 2021 ( which means that you are currently in the penultimate year at school) start getting ready right now! By the time you put in your application – namely October-December 2020 – you need to have already passed the SAT.

College Board, which administers SATs all across the world, only organises examinations in Poland a few times a year, namely in the spring and autumn. The first series of tests is not far away now – in March, May and June. You can re-sit the SAT, so give yourself the best possible chance of getting a really high score!

The SAT exam – Elab’s help – What can you count on from our side?

We will ensure that you are provided with  appropriate educational materials and classes led by an experienced SAT tutor. We also offer SATelite workshops as well as one-to-one tuition.

The SATelite workshops start in March!

These comprise of 96 hours of tuition, overseen by an expert. Examples of the subjects which will be covered include: Maths Skills: Geometry/Trigonometry or SAT Reading Recap : Comprehension, text analysis and grammar, Vocabulary in context and section review.

You can sign up for the Warsaw-based SATelite  workshops today. This year the  friendly workshops start in March. Check the course details here.

Individual SAT tuition

A private tutor will design a study plan based on the needs of the individual student. This is an ideal option for people who want to work intensively on specific topics, or who prefer working with a tutor on a 1:1 basis, rather than being part of a class.

Our  Elab alumni are currently studying at universities such as Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, NYU, Boston University and HULT International Business School.