Study Abroad

We have encountered few parents who want to send their children abroad to do under graduate study but are clueless about the criteria and entrance tests. This is our attempt to guide them on their quest to find relevant information about SAT, the test for admission into colleges and universities abroad.

SAT is scholastic aptitude test, required for admission in foreign colleges and universities. In recent years, there has been spurt in application for SAT from India and other emerging countries. Few of my students too have shown interest in SAT.

While students in metros are pretty familiar with SAT, it is still unknown in many cities in the country. This is just an attempt to help students about SAT, its eligibility, SAT-1 and SAT-2, and its close counterpart ACT.

SAT – 1 (the original SAT)

SAT – 1 is the original test which tests students’ aptitude. SAT – 1 is known as only SAT. It tests general mathematical ability and reading and writing of English, of course.

The reading part includes comprehension, i.e. reading long paragraphs and answer questions based on the paragraph. The other section is sentence correction which means you have to correct a wrong sentence. The third section includes paragraph reading and answering questions based on the paragraph. While comprehension requires you to read a long paragraph which includes many facets of a topic, the paragraph reading includes a particular message, hypothesis, inference or a proposition.

The writing part includes essay writing, identifying errors in writing, and similar exercises intended to test your writing skills in English language.

Mathematics part includes most of the topics that students study in class 11th and 12th. These topics are Functions, Algebra, Geometry, Probability, Data analysis, and Statistics.

The duration of SAT is 3 hrs and 45 minutes. Hence SAT is not just a test of your knowledge and competence but also your mental strength to sustain for 3 hrs and 45 minutes.

SAT score is valid for almost all the universities across the world. Even in India, colleges which admit NRIs and foreign students do it on the basis of SAT.

SAT – 2 or SAT subject test

SAT – 2 is also known as SAT subject test which tests your competence in a subject. There are about 20 SAT subject tests to choose from. Students who want to go for engineering and science stream can take SAT subject tests for Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics. Similarly, there are tests for other subjects.

SAT – 2 is not necessary as such because most of the universities haven’t made it mandatory. However, taking SAT subject tests may help you in 3 ways.

  1. It separates you from others: The competition for admission into good schools across the world is getting fiercer just like JEE Advanced for admission into IITs here in India. Hence it is important to make yourself different from other applicants. SAT subject tests may give you that extra edge. SAT subject test is a measure of your subject matter competence.
  2. Many colleges now prefer SAT subject test along with SAT: There are many colleges and universities that accept SAT subject tests scores. Many colleges request students to submit their SAT subject score along with SAT. However, students must remember that most of universities, including the top rated ones haven’t made it compulsory. As per their admission guideline SAT – 1 is fine. The problem here is how we interpret the “request” for SAT subject test scores. While it may be true that SAT – 1 is enough but does attaching SAT subject test score make any difference. Even if it makes a little difference, that could be enough to secure admission to your dream college.

As far as US universities are concerned, many of them say in their admission policy that they recommend taking 2-3 subject tests. However this is just to evaluate the right candidate and not taking them will not disqualify anyone with a valid SAT score.

Many colleges put great emphasis on SAT subject test score and it may make or break your chances, assuming other things are equal.

Now the question is should you take SAT subject test?

The answer is not simple because none of the top colleges have made it compulsory. At the same time, many require students to take the subject tests. For example, here is what Harvard mentions in its admission policy,

“While we normally require two SAT Subject Tests, you may apply without them if the cost of the tests represents a financial hardship or if you prefer to have your application considered without them.”

The inference is obvious. SAT subject tests do help. Our view is that students applying for specific subject for their under graduate study program should take subject tests in those areas to make their application stronger. For example, it helps if you take subject tests in Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics if you want to apply for engineering or science courses from American universities.

How to take SAT tests in India

SAT is getting increasingly popular in India. Fortunately India has many centres in almost all the large cities where students can take SAT – 1 and SAT – 2 tests. SAT tests happen every year 5-6 times across the country. The months typically are May, June, Oct, Nov, Dec, and Jan. Here is the schedule for the year 2017-2018.

Date Tests on this day Registration due date
7-Oct-17 Both SAT – 1 and SAT – 2 8-Sep-17
2-Dec-17 Both SAT – 1 and SAT – 2 2-Nov-17
10-Mar-18 SAT – 1 9-Feb-18
5-May-18 Both SAT – 1 and SAT – 2 6-Apr-18
2-Jun-18 SAT – 2 3-May-18


In Bhubaneswar, the test centres are usually at Sai International School and Mother Public School.

Important points to consider for students

Go through the admission policy of your preferred college and see if this test in required. Usually students have four to five colleges of their choice. Go through their admission procedures and requirements. Even when the policy says that the college prefers SAT – 2 but is not mandatory, you should take it to make your application stand apart and increase your chances of admission.

Even though I have ensured that the information given here are correct, you should go to the College Board site to confirm if there is any real time change. When you register for the test, you get all your information regarding date and centre of test.

Last but the least, never take the test lightly. There are many people who will say SAT is easy. It is certainly easy compared to JEE mains and Advanced. But remember, getting 30% in JEE Main and Advanced may guarantee a seat in a good engineering college (or IITs); getting the same percentage will not get you even in the lowest rung colleges in US. Hence while SAT is relatively much easier, scoring marks sufficient enough to get into top schools is not that easy. Avoiding mistakes is the key to score great marks in SAT – 1 and SAT – 2. Usually, getting 1350+ out of 1600 in SAT – 1 is considered good. 1400+ is certainly good enough to apply in top colleges in US and other countries. Similarly, a score of 650+ out of 800 in SAT – 2 will place you in a good position.

So be focused on your goal and study. Keep visiting this page for further information about SAT and SAT subject tests. We will keep it updated.

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