The SAT is a college admissions test administered by the College Board, a company with its hands in a large chunk of the American education system. The SAT consists of three main sections: Reading, Writing and 'Rithmetic. A good starting place is here. Yes, you can use a calculator on the SAT Math, and I always used a scientific.
When is it offered? How much will it cost?
here for details
When should I take it during my schooling?
The SAT should preferably, if possible, be taken first in the spring of the year you will apply to university, ie, the spring of the year before your planned entrance into university. This way, you can gauge your performance and figure out any way you can make improvements before you re-take it (most likely before December) right as you are making your applications.
Still interested? Want to register?
How do I send my scores to universities?
When you register for the SAT, you will be able to select several universities for free. If you don't know in May or June when you first take the exam, don't bother, all your scores will be sent when you retake (or if you're extremely lucky & don't retake, when you take your SAT IIs). Until a certain period after the test, you can add more universities or change the ones you have already listed. However, after that pre-set time frame, you will have to pay to send the scores. If this is the case, make sure you do it early, as sending your scores rush delivery is needless to say, a cash cow.
The SAT Subject Tests aka the SAT II
What is the SAT II?
The SAT Subject tests are a battery of tests available in subjects either neglected on the SAT Reasoning or not covered in great deal. The SAT comes into play in competitive admissions.
What subjects are offered? When can I take them?
- U.S. History (formerly American History and Social Studies)
- World History**
- Mathematics Level 1 (formerly Mathematics IC)*
- Mathematics Level 2 (formerly Mathematics IIC)
- Biology E/M
- Chinese with Listening**
- French with Listening**
- German with Listening**
- Spanish with Listening**
- Modern Hebrew
- Latin **
- Japanese with Listening**
- Korean with Listening**
*The SAT II Math I is not considered of a high enough level for most universities and is thus not accepted.
**Generally offered less dates.
What SAT IIs should I take if I want to _________?
First off, in the US, the actual concentration is generally not as important, so take what you will do best at, not what you think the department you might want to study in will like.
However, for a basic guide:
Literature, A Language, History, Math IIC, perhaps a science to show variety
Math IIC, Literature, Sciences
Taking something outside your presumed speciality is a GOOD thing. Keep that in mind, especially as US universities favor general education and studying a multitude of subjects, so expressing different interests and skills in SAT IIs is a good thing.
How to prepare?
I for the most part have never studied for SATs besides occasionally looking at tests on Collegeboard's site (linked above), where there are lots of sample questions and practice tests that you can download and use. However, I have used products by Princeton Review and Kaplan for other tests, and have found them extremely helpful.
So, what should my actual plan of action be?
I personally would recommend taking the SAT subjects in May or June, whatever month you are not taking the SAT (but April would be a very good month to take the SAT), and when you won't feel overwhelmed by AS levels or whatever qualification you are pursuing (though, all that revision could be helpful right when you take the SATs, so if you're up for it, I'd consider it). Then, in October, retake the SAT, and in November or December, any additional SAT IIs.
Wait, but what if I'm starting my A2s and still want to take SATs/apply to university in the US, what should I do?
Nope, its not too late. You just might have the slight disadvantage of only being able to take the SAT once, and have to rush to take the SAT IIs. A good plan of action would be to:
-figure out a list of about 20 universities you are at all interested in -cut it down to about 15 that you could actually see yourself attending for 3 to 4 years (you will most likely receive some advanced standing for A level or IB exams) -take a look at the application processes for the universities on your list -cut your list down to a more manageable number, considering the work you'll have to be doing alongside applications/UCAS app/A levels or IB -sign up for the SAT ASAP -take the SAT I in October -take SAT IIs in November -if necessary, retake the SAT I in December