Since the age of four, your parents, teachers, siblings, and the creepy lady across the street have all been telling you the same thing: you need to do your homework and get good grades, or you'll never get into a decent college. Well we have the perfect retort for you: "it doesn't matter how I do in school; all I need to do is ace the SAT. So pass over the remote and the Cheetos!"

Well, it's not quite that simple, but the SAT does hold tremendous power in determining where you'll go to college. To go to virtually any college or university in the United States, you need to have taken the Scholastic Aptitude Test, a standardized exam that assigns you a score that ranks your verbal and math abilities.

Look, you have to take the SAT. You have no choice. Some people will claim that the ACT (another standardized test) is easier, so you should take that instead. You think that colleges aren't already onto that little trick? You can take the ACT if you like, but you should still take the SAT too, or college admission committees will wonder why you didn't take it. Fortunately, we at know tons of little tricks that'll boost up your SAT score.


Only by knowing your enemy can you defeat it, young samurai. And trust us, many of you will consider the SAT your enemy.

The first thing you must do is sit down and look at a sample SAT, just so that you know what we're talking about. You can get a free copy of a practice test from your high school college counselor, or you can go to the SAT website and go through some practice questions there. Don't worry we'll wait.

Back? Good. First thing's first: the SAT is not an intelligence test. Rather, it's considered to be a predictor of college success. Many people are extremely intelligent, but 1) they are bad test-takers, 2) their intelligences can't be examined in the way that the SAT tries to measure them, or 3) they are extremely intelligent, but just not in the way that top-notch colleges require.

In spite of this, college admissions committees use the SAT to get a general idea of your scholastic aptitude-it means that the admissions committee does less work. It's much easier and much less costly for the committee to look at a score than to analyze all of your recommendations, interview you, and talk to your first grade teacher to find out what a sweet little boy or girl you are. So since committees place such importance on the test, you should as well.

Here are some important tidbits about the SAT:

  • The SAT is written by the Educational Testing Service. They are also responsible for writing the GRE, GMAT, and AP Tests. The SAT I is the general SAT that we're writing about. There are also SATs about specific subjects (called SAT II tests), but this SYW won't help you with those. And frankly, they're not nearly as important as the SAT I.

  • The test is about three and a half hours long, and it consists of two major sections: math skills and verbal skills.

  • Schools that receive a larger amount of applications (generally bigger state schools) will place even more importance upon your SAT scores because they have so many more applications to weed through.

  • The SAT is given 7 times during the year, and you can find out those exact dates by clicking here. You can even register online. Ah, the wonders of modern technology.

  • If you already have a school or two that you're interested in, you can either speak to your counselor or pick up a book that surveys different schools, and you will be able to find out what the average SAT scores of their students are. That can give you a goal to work towards.

  • Each section of the SAT is graded on a scale of 200 - 800 (that is, you will receive one score for the math section and one for the verbal section). A score of 500 on each means that you scored right about average for each test. These scores change by units of 10, meaning that you can get a 590, 600, or 610 on a section, but you can't get a 596 or 605.