SAT Preparation


We have all heard about taking SAT exams to apply for Higher Education institutes, but why is it that there are two different versions for the SAT exams? Does that mean you have to take them both or either one of them? What is the purpose of each of the exams? And which one is right for you? Here, you have answers all these questions.

SAT Exams

The Scholastic Assessment Tests (SAT) are set up by the College Board. College Board also caters for the applications and course search for Higher Education in the USA. SAT exams can be a requirement for courses you wish to apply to in the US. This means applying to universities in other countries like UK, Australia and Malaysia might not require you to take the SAT exam. So, before you decide which exam to pick, make sure your course requires you to take it.

The SAT exam allows the universities to make fair judgments for selecting candidates from different schooling systems and assess the students on key skills like numeracy and literacy. Having taken the SAT exams, you will be more likely to be accepted for your desired course as a good score reflects a high level of competence.

Structure and preparation of the exam: SAT 1

Taking SAT 1 will usually be a requirement when applying to a school in the US. This will allow the universities you have applied to judge your application on fair grounds. The SAT 1 exam only contains Literacy and Numeracy assessment areas, divided into three sections of Critical Reading, Writing and Mathematics.

The Mathematics section lasts 70 minutes and contains numbers and operations, algebra, geometry, statistics, probability and data analysis. The Critical Reading section lasts 70 minutes and includes sentence completion and comprehension. Lastly, the Writing section lasts 60 minutes and includes grammar usage and word choice questions. All the sections appear in a random order in your exam. There is a total of 2400 score that you attempt in one sitting.

You can prepare for SAT exams through resources provided online. These resources include sample papers, book resources and exercises. Some of the resources are free while others can be purchased through the website. Some people also find it beneficial to take classes and crash courses with local tutorial services.

Structure and preparation of the exam: SAT 2

The SAT 2 exam is also known as the Subject SATs. SAT 2 is available for 20 different subjects across five areas of history, mathematics, science, English and foreign languages. You can take as many tests as you wish, based on your personal interests and requirement of the course you are applying for. The courses will not usually ask you to take SAT 2 exams but it helps signal a higher level of specialized competence in your field of interest.

Each of the tests is structured differently and is based on the college level content from that specific subject. You can find out about the test structures and content on the College Board’s website and order resources for preparation. You can find sample questions and limited resources available on the website for free, while extensive resources including books can be bought in local book stores or online from the College Board’s website.

There are currently 20 different Subject Tests, and you can sign up for up to three per test date.

Humanities Math and Science Languages More Languages
Literature Math Level 1 French French with Listening
U.S. History Math Level 2 German German with Listening
World History Biology/EM Spanish Spanish with Listening
Chemistry Modern Hebrew Chinese with Listening
Physics Italian Japanese with Listening
Latin Korean with Listening



  • What are the different names for SAT I and SAT II

In a sequence of changes, the SAT has also been referred  to as the Scholastic Aptitude Test or Scholastic Assessment Test, in the past, then revised to SAT I: Reasoning Test or simply and commonly now known as the SAT or SAT I. Similarly, the SAT II formerly known as Achievement Tests are synonyms for SAT Subject Tests or SAT II.


  • How long does each Test take ?

The SAT I takes 3 hour 45 minutes while SAT II takes one hour for each subject covered. Some colleges may require the applicant to take one, two or three Subject Tests.


  • When are the tests given ?

The SAT II is given six times a year, usually in October, November, December, January, May and June. You can’t take both exams on the same administration date.

The SAT I is given seven times a year, usually in October, November, December, January, March, May and June.



Although College Board doesn’t seem to use the term “SAT 1” anymore, SAT 1 refers to the test that most high schoolers take and use on their college applications. It has undergone a major overhaul in the last year, so if you plan to take it, make sure you know what these changes are. This SAT covers general Reading, Writing, and Math topics and includes an optional Essay section. Almost all colleges accept scores from this test, and a high score on it helps you prove to admission officers that you are a capable, well-rounded student who would do well at their school.


The SAT Subject Tests are different tests altogether. They focus on only one subject at a time, and allow you to show your competency in that particular subject. There are 20 subject tests available under the categories of Mathematics, History, English, Languages, and Science, and you are free to take as many (or as few) as you like. Each test is one hour long and is entirely multiple choice. Scores range from 200 to 800, just like the main sections of the SAT. These tests have not undergone any format changes recently, so if you’ve already taken some, there is no need to retake them.

Visualizing the differences

SAT SAT Subject Tests
Other Names SAT 1, SAT I, SAT Reasoning Test SAT 2, SAT II, SAT Achievement Tests
Format 3 hr, 45 min multiple-choice test (with one essay question) 1 hr multiple-choice test
Subject Matter Reading, Writing, Math 20 different topics (listed above)
Which Schools Require It? Almost all colleges Some very selective colleges

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