SAT & Subject Tests


The SAT is the most widely known and taken college entrance examination. We offer the SAT at Troy High in October, November, December, January, May, and June. A student can score between 200 and 800 on a Critical Reading Section, a Writing Skills and on a Math Section. The re-centered national average is 500 on each section or 1500 on all. Generally, colleges will take the highest Verbal score and the highest Math score that a student receives from all of the tests that the student takes. An example, a student takes the SAT in May of their junior year and scores 400 Verbal and 500 Math. The student takes the SAT again in October and scores a 500 Verbal and a 400 Math. The college admissions office will take the 500 Verbal from October and the 500 Math from May and the student will be credited with a 1000 total score. On occasion, one will see “we will only credit a student with their highest sitting” statement. On this rare occasion, a student can only use the total score from May or October not a combination. As a result, it is in the best interest of each student to take the SAT at least two times.


Ways to Improve your SAT Scores

The key to getting a higher SAT score is working early, slowly, and consistently. No student should have to cram for the SAT in the few months before the test; cramming isn’t effective educationally and makes the entire process more stressful than it needs to be. This article lists ten things any high school freshman can do now to start working to get a better SAT score. None of the steps will take up more than an hour, and all the steps together won’t take more time than watching two or three weekly television shows. And each step will help raise your score, even if you do only one.

Read Novels – There will be many questions testing vocabulary and reading comprehension throughout the verbal sections of the SAT. These two skills are also the most difficult to quickly prepare (see #2). To excel on the SAT, a student should plan to work, slowly, surely, and over time, on their reading and vocabulary and one of the best ways to do that is to regularly read novels. Students don’t have to read classic novels, or even good novels, to get a benefit from them for the SAT. Reading modern, grammatical English, as written in virtually all novels published in the last hundred years, will help a middle school student with their vocabulary and their ability to understand sentence structure. For SAT purposes, it doesn’t matter what a student reads, as long as the student reads consistently.

Get to know – Vocabulary is the hardest to cram for in the few months before the test. So, students should do whatever they can to steadily increase their vocabulary (as we saw in #1) and can help here, too. The Web site features a “word of the day”, which they email to you, that is often an SAT word and always a word worth knowing. Students have about a thousand days until the SAT and even if they remember one in ten of the words, that’s a hundred SAT words added from this step alone!

Keep a Journal – The SAT now includes a writing section. Just as reading is the best way to boost a verbal score, practice writing is the best way to boost a writing score. When writing a journal, just as with reading novels, the quality isn’t as important as the consistency; the journal should be used for slow, steady progress in writing over the course of years and not for time-intensive essays (students should get plenty of practice writing essays in school.) For now, try to write for 20-30 minutes a day, 5 or 6 days a week. That should help push to your writing to the next level.

Do Crossword Puzzles – Greater knowledge of words, including connotations, will help students with the verbal section. Students can answer many SAT questions by knowing something, but not everything, about a word. An example would be, knowing what context it usually appears in, or what part of speech a word is. Crossword puzzles use words creatively and playfully, which will help students to see the many ways a word can be understood. Try or your own Dictionary.

Read the Newspaper – The SAT will test lots of reading. Most newspaper articles are about the same length as the SAT passages and experience reading this type of writing will make answering the reading questions on the SAT. For example, students can write new headlines for articles, or substitute new words into the text to help prepare for the questions on the SAT. (Try The New York Times and the Washington Post)

Work Out Logic Puzzles – The SAT has always tested logical thinking and newer SATs test it even more. Students can work on this skill using any of the multitudes of logic puzzle books sold at bookstores, supermarkets, or anywhere. These puzzles will help teach students how to read sentences precisely and notice the difference between what a sentence seems to say and what it actually says (a skill worth having throughout life)

Draw – One of the trickiest parts of the SAT math section is the geometry section, but some drawing skill will help greatly. Some geometry questions will actually not include a diagram of the shape, which is part of what makes the question difficult (many SAT questions are like this in that the content tested is not the hard part of the question, but the way the question is asked.) Being able to quickly and accurately draw the shape(s) described in the question can often make the question much easier to answer. For the geometry questions with accurately drawn shapes (and the shapes on the SAT are accurate unless noted otherwise), a student familiar with shapes can often more effectively estimate angles, distance, lengths, etc.

Answer the SAT Question of the Day – Ninth graders probably are ready to take a practice SAT test and they should try out some questions. publishes a real SAT question on their Web site every day and your student can start there to learn what SAT questions look like and how they work. It’s free and only takes a few minutes a day. Students should look forward to practice tests in tenth grade.

Memorize Fraction/Decimal conversions – What number is greater, 1/8 or .18? Students will have to make comparisons like this in the SAT math sections and any time taken to work out the conversion during the test is, in effect, points not being scored. Memorizing /2 through /12 will give minutes of time during the test to answer other questions (and get more points!)

Don’t Panic! – The SAT is certainly important for college admissions. At most schools the SAT score is second only to high school grades. The good news is your student has plenty of time and there is a ton of good prep material to use over the next several years. So, students shouldn’t panic, but they should get to work.

The SAT has changed to a new format in 2005. Click Short Presentation for a slide show outlining the changes. For a longer version including sample test questions click Long Presentation


SAT (Subject Tests)

The SAT (subject tests) are used by only approximately 15% of the colleges in their admission process. It is used, primarily, by the most Competitive colleges. An example is the Ivy League colleges like Harvard and Yale. These are 1 hour long individual subject tests in areas like Math, Spanish, Chemistry, and Writing. If a college uses the SAT to help make their admission decision, the college usually asks a student to take three SAT (subject tests). A student will need to consult with the college catalog or Web Site to know if a college requires the SAT (subject tests) and which tests they want the student to take. The SAT 2 (subject tests) are given on the same day as the SAT test. A student can take either SAT 1 or SAT on a given Saturday, but not both.

If you would like to link to the Web Site of the SAT and SAT Subject tests go to You will be able to register for the SAT tests, get the tests dates, sample questions, and much more information.