SAT Preparation

The SAT is a 3-hour and 50-minute college admissions exam (or 3 hours without the optional essay).

Our SAT Program

Our educational approach to SAT preparation teaches the core concepts in critical reading, writing, grammar, and math required for solving the types of problems that recur on the test. We believe that preparing for standardized tests should not only improve scores but also equip students with the tools for enhanced performance across all their academic work.

Through rigorous, long-term preparation, we emphasize learning the material thoroughly and thinking critically about every question. Weekly meetings, assignments, and full-length, proctored practice tests help our students develop a deeper understanding of concepts and refine their problem-solving techniques.

Contact us to speak to a program consultant to discuss your goals and set up a diagnostic SAT.

Program Length

The precise length of our SAT program is tailored to the individual student based on multiple factors, including:

  • the student's tutoring needs
  • when the student begins working with us
  • the student's goals
  • the number of meetings the student has with the tutor each week
  • the date the student plans to take the official test

We strongly recommend that a student plan to work with a tutor for an academic year or more to cover the material at a reasonable pace.

Reading

Our Reading materials help students learn to extract essential information from a given text. We have developed a series of vocabulary-in-context word lists representing the high-utility academic words and phrases that are specifically tested on the SAT. Students become more attuned to the significance of word choice and more adept at discerning an author's meaning—essential skills that remain useful as students continue their academic and professional careers.

Writing & Language

Students master fundamental principles of grammar while developing a critical eye for spotting errors. They acquire skills that help them improve their accuracy on the SAT Writing & Language Test and also identify and correct errors in their own writing, both on the SAT Essay and in their schoolwork.

Math

Our Math materials identify the mathematical terms and recurring math question types in algebra, problem solving and data analysis, and other math topics. Students will practice these concepts in targeted math worksheets, problem sets, and summary reviews.

Essay

Though the SAT Essay is optional, many competitive colleges require it. In preparing students for the SAT Essay, we teach the fundamental structure, critical reasoning, and fluidity of expression inherent in a strong written composition. Students develop the analytical skills and conceptual framework to effectively describe how an author constructs an argument. Through repeated practice, students gain the confidence to approach this task knowing that they can write an insightful critical essay in a limited amount of time.

Should students take the SAT or the ACT?

All major colleges accept the SAT and the ACT with equal preference. When deciding whether to take the SAT or the ACT, students should not speculate. Diagnostic testing and routine practice will dictate which test is best suited for the individual student.

We generally recommend that students complete a few months of tutoring before selecting to prepare for either the SAT or ACT. During this period, each student should take an SAT and an ACT diagnostic test. The results of the diagnostics in addition the student’s preferences and goals will help us advise an appropriate test regimen.

In the first few months of the program, our tutors focus on imparting the core material—including math concepts, grammar rules, and reading skills—relevant to both the SAT and the ACT. After deciding which test better suits each student’s goals and abilities, our tutors will incorporate materials specific to the student's chosen test and develop a rigorous practice test schedule.

What are the differences between the SAT and the ACT?

The ACT and the SAT are both prominent college admissions tests. Both assess the educational development of high school students and the ability to perform college level work. However, the ACT and the SAT are different educational instruments with different emphases.

 

SAT

ACT

Scoring

400–1600 composite scale

1–36 composite scale

Test Length

3 hours + 50-minute optional essay

2 hours and 55 minutes + 40-minute optional essay

Reading

52 questions in 65 minutes

Passage-based reading comprehension

Informational graphics included

40 questions in 35 minutes

Passage-based reading comprehension

English

44 questions in 35 minutes

Passage-based testing of grammar, usage, syntax, rhetoric, & punctuation

Informational graphics included

75 questions in 45 minutes

Passage-based testing of grammar, usage, syntax, rhetoric, & punctuation

Math

No Calculator Section: 20 questions in 25 minutes (include 5 grid-in questions)

Calculator Section: 38 questions in 55 minutes (including 8 grid-in questions)

Trigonometry, radians, volumes, complex numbers, congruence & similarity, simple rational expressions, higher order equations, circle-related topics

Emphasis on algebra, problem solving and data analysis, and certain advanced math topics

60 questions in 60 minutes

Can used approved calculator

All multiple choice

Arithmetic, algebra I & II, planar and coordinate geometry, trigonometry and precalculus including functions, conic sections, combinations & permutations, logarithms, and matrices

Science

No Science Section

Science questions throughout the Reading, Writing & Language, and Math Tests

40 Questions in 35 Minutes

Interpretation and application of scientific data presented in tables, pie charts, bar graphs, scatter plots, etc.

Essay

50 Minutes

Optional, but many competitive schools require the essay

Students must analyze an authentic text and evaluate how well the author constructs an argument

3 scores:

  • Reading
  • Analysis
  • Writing

40 Minutes

Optional, but many competitive schools require the essay

Writing and composition, analysis and development of an argument

4 scores:

  • Ideas & Analysis
  • Development & Support
  • Organization
  • Language Use & Conventions

Other

No penalty for incorrect answers

No penalty for incorrect answers

 

How do SAT and ACT scores compare?

Concordance tools and tables are provided on the official SAT website.

Section

Number of Questions

Minutes per Section

Content

Reading Test

52 Questions

65 Minutes

Passage-based reading comprehension across a range of subject matter

Writing & Language Test

44 Questions

35 Minutes

Passage-based grammatical and syntactical principles and idiomatic expression

Math Test—No Calculator

20 Questions

  • 15 multiple choice
  • 5 grid-in

25 Minutes

Emphasis on algebra, problem solving and data analysis, and certain advanced math topics

Math Test—Calculator

38 Questions

  • 30 multiple choice
  • 8 grid-in

55 Minutes

Optional Essay Task

1 Prompt 

50 Minutes

Analyze an authentic text and evaluate how well the author constructs an argument 

How is the SAT Scored?

  • One Composite Score, scaled from 400–1600, reflecting the student’s overall performance.
  • Two Area Scores, scaled from 200–800:
    • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (comprising the Reading Test and the Writing & Language Test)
    • Math (comprising the two Math Tests)
  • Three Test Scores, scaled from 10–40:
    • The Reading Test
    • The Writing & Language Test
    • The Math Test
  • Two Cross-Test Scores, scaled from 10–40. Some passages in the Reading and Writing & Language Tests and some problems in the Math Tests are based upon Science, History, and Social Studies. Questions from these passages and problems figure in the following two Cross-Test Scores:
    • Analysis in Science
    • Analysis in History/Social Studies
  • Seven Subscores, scaled from 1–15. 
    • Drawn from questions in the Reading Test and the Writing & Language Test:
      • Words in Context
      • Command of Evidence
    • Drawn from questions in the Writing & Language Test:
      • Expression of Ideas
      • Standard English Conventions
    • Drawn from questions in the Math Tests:
      • Heart of Algebra
      • Problem Solving & Data Analysis
      • Passport to Advanced Math
  • A three-part Essay Score. Not figured into any other score, the essay is scored from 2 to 8 (reflecting the combined 1–4 evaluation scores of two readers) in three categories:
    • Reading
    • Analysis
    • Writing

Note that a single question on the SAT can figure into several distinct scoring categories. For example, a correct answer on vocabulary-based question from a Science passage in the Writing & Language Test would be calculated into the Evidenced-Based Reading & Writing Score, the Writing & Language Test Score, the Analysis in Science Cross-Test Score, and the Words in Context Subscore.

When is the SAT Taken?

Most of our students take the SAT in the spring of their junior year and retake it in the fall of their senior year.

The SAT is offered seven times per academic year, usually in August, October, November, December, March, May, and June. International test dates may vary.

Upcoming SAT Dates and Registration Deadlines

Test Date

Registration Deadline

Late Registration Deadline

Accommodations Request Deadline

March 11, 2017

February 10, 2017

February 28, 2017

January 20, 2017

May 6, 2017

April 7, 2017

April 25, 2017

March 17, 2017

June 3, 2017

May 9, 2017

May 24, 2017

April 14, 2017

August 26, 2017

October 7, 2017

November 4, 2017

December 2, 2017

March 10, 2018

May 5, 2018

June 2, 2018

Tutors in Washington DC

Joshua Kaplan

Joshua Kaplan

Tutor of: SAT, ACT, Math Level 1, Math Level 2, Literature, U.S. History, World History, LSAT, GMAT, GRE, SSAT; and more

J.D. from Yale Law School.
M.F.A. from University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.
B.A./B.S. in English and Film & Television from Boston University.
Mary Pickford Scholar; Phi Beta Kappa; Boston University Trustee Scholar; Florida Keys Emerging Playwright; Kodak Film Scholar.

Belinda M. Lai

Belinda M. Lai

Tutor of: SAT, Math Level 1, Math Level 2, LSAT, GMAT, GRE, MCAT, SSAT

M.B.A. in Marketing and Strategic Planning from Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
B.S. in Applied Mathematics and Economics from Brown University.
Director of Advantage Testing of Washington D.C.

Jordan Schwartz

Jordan Schwartz

Tutor of: SAT, ACT, Math Level 1, Literature, U.S. History, World History, LSAT, GRE, SSAT, ISEE; and more

B.A. in Politics from Brandeis University.
Harvey S. Bodker Outstanding Leadership Award.

See SAT tutors in all locations