Three Misconceptions about the SAT
By: Jennifer Karan, Executive Director of SAT Program at the College Board®
Though the comments below may seem light-hearted, in truth there is so much misinformation about the SAT that I thought I might take the opportunity to clear the air about a few myths.
1. The SAT Is Administered Entirely in Aramaic
Actually, the test is administered in English, even for international students. However, for those students who have been studying a foreign language and who are ready to demonstrate their mastery, there are twelve Subject Tests covering nine different languages including Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Modern Hebrew, Latin and Korean.
To minimize anxiety and achieve their best results, students should familiarize themselves with test content, format and question types. The College Board® offers a wide array of free and low-cost resources, none of which are in Aramaic.
2. There Is a Minimum Grade Point Average Requirement
Not true. The College Board® is committed to making the SAT available to anyone who wants to take it, regardless of educational -- or economic -- status. We regularly hear from lower-performing students who did not think they were “college material,” then found themselves inspired to go to college after taking the SAT.
In fact, the SAT is administered seven times a year (the subject tests are administered six times a year) and is made available in more than 7,000 test centers in 180 countries. Additionally, the College Board® now offers states and districts the option of hosting the SAT during a school day to make it easier for students who may not have access to transportation on a weekend or who may have work or family commitments.
And, through the Fee Waiver program, low-income students for whom exam fees present an undue burden are able to take the exam. More than 20% of SAT takers in the class of 2012 took the test at no charge. More than 1.66 million students from the 2012 graduating class took the SAT, representing the most diverse class of SAT takers in history.
3. The Math Section Is Optional
The math section is not optional. Each of the three sections on the SAT, critical reading, mathematical reasoning and writing skills, test the information students learn in a rigorous high school curriculum and how well they apply that knowledge. The reading section, among other things, assesses students’ ability to draw inferences and synthesize information. The writing section – which other organizations might consider writing optional, but given its critical importance to student success, the College Board® does not – tests students’ ability to communicate ideas effectively as well as their knowledge of sentence structure and grammar. And the math section requires students to apply mathematical concepts, solve problems and use data literacy skills in interpreting tables, charts and graphs. In addition to this portion of the SAT, there are two SAT Subject Tests in mathematics available to students interested in that field.
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You asked about strange ideas I've heard about the SAT? Back when the College Board first introduced the essay component, I heard the scoring was entirely subjective, the topics were inappropriate and/or invasive of student privacy, the essays would be subject to psychological scrutiny and a psych profile of the student would be distributed to anyone who wanted to know, and that Christian-themed essays would be scored low. Talk about paranoid!