Which stream should you opt-in Indian schools (CBSE, international) when you are in high school?
When should you start preparing for the SAT exam?
How do extracurricular activities fit into clearing the SAT agenda?
How should you write an application or college essay?
How are you going to pay for your college fees?
Since the time you have thought of taking college admission overseas, are these questions popping in your head?
Great! We are here to help you out.
College plays an integral role in shaping the career of school students be it in India or abroad. The twelfth students who seek admission in colleges or universities in the U.S. for undergrad courses need to clear the SAT exam and get the appropriate set of scores in it. The SAT evaluates skills, which you are learning in school and need them in college and beyond. It is not an IQ test; its purpose is to measure your college readiness.
SAT abbreviates as Scholastic Aptitude Test and determines the college readiness of school students.
What are the points to emphasise once you plan to aspire for the SAT exam?
Focus on your academic grades: Your high school grade (grade point average or GPA) or report card can play a crucial role in your college application as it can distinguish you from many others.
Participate in extracurricular and leadership activities: List out the activities that you like and start devoting your time in them. For example, if you mention in the college application that you have played basketball on a state level, it will add value.
Find an internship or volunteer activities to do during summer break: Many times, schools run a charity program where students can volunteer and collect money for charity work. Schools provide certificates for these activities. In India, you can’t also apply for an internship opportunity before graduation until and unless someone could refer you for it.
Discuss your career aspirations and passion with your school teachers to find out which field may work better for you in college. You can also create a career roadmap for free based on your interest if you have any confusion.
Discuss with your parents: If this whole idea of giving SAT doesn’t come from your parents, then discuss your aspiration and find out whether your parents can afford the exam fees and other expenses or not. In case they can’t afford the exam fee, the College Board (the U.S,-based organisation) is providing a fee waiver to the students whose family income is less than INR 8 Lakh. To read more about the eligibility criteria and apply, click here. If you are a top scorer in the SAT, you can apply for scholarships in college tuition fee as well.
Develop a list of target colleges: Sign up on the College Board and create your application. Don’t try to do it swiftly as this application will be forwarded to the colleges if you have opt-in for student search service. Now search for the universities in the U.S. or Canada wherever you are interested in applying. Prepare a list of colleges that aligns with your career aspirations and as per financial aspect too. This site also sends your SAT score report to the colleges and scholarship programs.
Prepare a financial plan with your parents: Determine the total amount that you need and outline the sources from where you can arrange money, such as savings, scholarship programs, student loan, etc.
Start saving: Open a savings account and start saving money for studying abroad.
Connect with the college representatives: Set appointments in your target colleges throughout your junior and senior year to find out about ‘fly-in’ programs that cover travel costs and render other financial assistance. You can also try to build rapport with the teachers in target colleges and ask for a letter of recommendation.
Identify potential teachers (in subjects such as Maths, Science, History, English, Foreign language) in your school for the letter of recommendation.
Prepare for the college interviews with the help of teachers and school friends.
What is the full process to apply for the SAT exam for an Indian student?
Start with finding the dates and deadlines of the SAT exam and admission in your targeted colleges to prepare a plan of action.
Ideally, you can start preparing for the SAT exam from the eighth class. In India, some international schools allow Cambridge board students to choose a wise combination of subjects from the ninth grade that can assist you in preparation. Hence, you can look at the timeline that involves a list of activities to finish since the time you start navigating for the college admission process. For example, if you are in eighth and planning to give PSAT(a junior level exam) in the fall (September to November), you can start preparing from January as you need a minimum of six months of consistent preparation.
It is advisable to give PSAT 8/9 as a junior to practice for SAT. If that is not possible, then try to appear for PSAT 10 or PSAT/NMSQT (they are the same test but offered at different times in a year )in tenth or eleventh class. As per a College Board survey, students who appear for PSAT/ NMSQT in tenth or eleventh get higher SAT scores as compared to students who don’t. The PSAT/NMSQT is also the route to the National Merit Scholarship Program.
In case you are studying in CBSE board, it is offering nine subjects to study in 9th and 11th class. Along with the compulsory five (English, Hindi, Maths, Science and Social Science), you can choose four more subjects. The sixth subject will be skill-based, such as Marketing & Sales, Artificial Intelligence, Introduction to Financial markets, Retail, Healthcare, etc. (in ninth grade) and Marketing, Financial Markets (Advanced), Agriculture, Insurance, Taxation, Technology, Food Production, etc. (in XI class). The seventh subject will be the third language of your choice, and you can choose eight and ninth from the following: Art Education, Health & Physical Education, Work Experience.
For the ease of students, schools clubbed these subjects in groups so that they can opt for a group of their choice.
Please note that you only need to choose groups in ninth and eleventh class. Thus, if you realise your dream of studying abroad at an early stage, you can select the subjects accordingly. The prominent focus should be on English, Maths, Science, History and World Languages.
Types of SAT exam
SAT subject test: Colleges use this test to gain insight into your academic background and accomplishments in specific areas. They utilise this information in combination with other components, such as high academic scores, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation from teachers and mentors, application essay, etc. These tests are one-hour lengthy assessments and demonstrate your knowledge in particular subjects and your ability to apply it further.
How are SAT subject tests scored?
This test helps in indicating interest in specific majors or programs of study, such as engineering, medical science, cultural studies, etc. You can take a maximum of three tests in one sitting.
The total score for each test is determined on a scale of 200-800 in 10 point intervals. However, each test is scored differently based on the answer choices. The correct answer receives 1 point, where else an incorrect answer has a negative marking in the following way:
- 1/4 point deduction from each 5-choice question
- 1/3 point deduction from each 4-choice question
- 1/2 point from the 3-choice question.
SAT: This test is more focused on skills that you learn in high school, and you need to excel in college life. The SAT exam mainly tests the knowledge of reading, writing and language, maths — subjects which are taught every day in high school.
How to prepare for the SAT exam online?
- Choose challenging subjects in ninth or eleventh. A selection with science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology), Earth Science, Economics, Sociology, Psychology and other Social Science subjects will help.
- Keep doing your school homework
- Sign up on Khan Academy and enrol in their SAT practising course.
- Sign up on Skillioma for practising reading, writing and language, and essay tests. Skillioma focuses on strengthening reading, vocabulary, communication and analytical skills of the reader via its uniquely designed content, which entails the required topics and categories. Thus, enrolling on this website and frequently visiting on it, can help you in preparing for the SAT.
- Keep practising the mock tests and previous papers.
- Keep analysing and asking a lot of questions whenever you have any doubts.
One of the best ways to practice for reading comprehension is to inculcate reading in your daily tasks.
Here are the following points to note:
- The reading test includes multiple-choice questions based on the passage.
- Some passages are paired with other passages as well.
- Some passages include charts, infographics, graphs, but the calculation isn’t required. All you have to do is find the relation between these graphs and passage.
- This test is a part of the evidence-based reading and writing section, which means find the best evidence in the passage that best supports the answer to a previous question. Along with that, you also need to identify how authors use evidence to support their claims.
- Some questions may ask you to locate a piece of information directly, as stated in the passage, whereas, in some questions, you need to read between the lines. Here, you have to pique context clues to identify the meaning of a word or phrase used. It would help if you also have the ability to decide how the author’s choice of words shaped the tone, meaning of the passage.
- The reading test includes a passage in the field of history, social studies and science where you need to analyse the given data and imply your interpretation.
Further, as you are applying for admission in the U.S., focus on this part too –
The reading test also includes one passage from classic/modern work of the U.S. or world literature.
A passage related to the U.S. founding, constitution or a text in the Great Global Conversation they inspired – for example, Nelson Mandela speech.
Pro-tip to prepare for this section:
Apply your reading skills across all the subjects and as you encounter unfamiliar words or phrases, try to find their meaning using context clues rather than searching on the internet.
The ability to read, comprehend and analyse a passage comes from repeated practice. Hence, keep reading and practising comprehension tests.
Writing and Language Test
The objective of this test is to analyse your role as an editor where you improve passages that have errors. Here are the three prominent things that you need to do while performing this test:
- Read the passages
- Find out the mistakes and fix them
- Make the passage concise and improve its tone and syntax.
Like the reading test, it also follows the same pattern of multiple-choice questions, passages paired with graphics and tables, and evidence-based.
The passages that you are going to improve will entail an array of arguments to non-fiction narratives about career, humanities, history, social studies and science.
Some questions may also ask you about the words and structure of the passage, which need changes or modifications.
Pro-tips to prepare for this section:
- Keep proofreading your English subject grammar work and essays with a friend.
- Learn the skills to spot a problem and correct it.
- Focus on the building blocks of writing – Punctuation, subject-verb agreement, sentence structure, tenses, parallel construction, clauses, robust vocabulary, and styles.
It is a chance to show that you can carry out procedures strategically and solve problems by utilising the most efficient approaches. Here you have to demonstrate your grasp on maths concepts, well-learned techniques, and number sense.
This test focuses on three major areas:
- Heart of Algebra – create, manipulate and solve algebraic equations
- Problem-solving and data analysis – use ratio, proportional reasoning, percentages to solve problems in real-world situations (career, job), science and social science along with interpreting graphs
- Passport to advanced math – to demonstrate your familiarity with more complex equations or functions (exponential functions, polynomial expressions, nonlinear relationship between two variables, etc.) and the required manipulations.
- Additional topics – Area and volume, coordinate geometry, and basic trigonometry
These skills you need to master if you are pursuing a career in technology, science, engineering or maths. In most questions, you will be given a real-life scenario where you have to analyse the situation and solve the problem mathematically.
Pro tips to prepare for this section:
- Focus on this subject in your school.
- Having a specific mentor is essential to help you in all kinds of problem-solving.
- Keep practising via old test papers and other tests present on Khan academy.
This section is a lot like college writing assignments. It is optional, so contact your targeted colleges to know about their essay requirement before registering for the exam. If they need it from your side, then you should give this exam.
Here are the four things that you have to focus on in this section:
- Read the passage thoroughly.
- Explain how the author has built an argument to persuade the audience.
- Support your explanation through evidence from the passage.
- No personal opinion is required.
Sections and allotted timings in the SAT exam
- Reading test – 52 questions, 65 minutes
- Writing and language test – 44 questions, 35 minutes
- Optional essay – 50 minutes
The structure of the mathematics test :
- 38 questions to be solved in 35 minutes (calculator is allowed)
- 20 questions, 25 minutes ( no calculator allowed)
- 78-80% of questions will be multiple choice
- 20-22% will be grid-in (students need to come up with an answer rather than selecting it)
Here are some of the examples of grid-in:
SAT exam scoring
You will receive the SAT score on a scale of 400-1600. Sub scores are also provided in each test. The scores above 1500 are considered in the top range.
In SAT, there are no negative points deducted for wrong answers.
The final rank comes in the form of percentile, which ranges from 1 to 99. SAT reports the percentile ranks based on the whole group of SAT test-takers.
Length of SAT exam
The duration is 3 hours (extra 50 minutes if you choose to write an optional essay). It doesn’t include short breaks.
SAT exam fees
SAT without essay – 52$ + Non-U.S. Regional Fee (49$)
SAT with essay – 68$ + NON-U.S. Regional Fee (49$)
The fee may vary in the upcoming years. Click here to know the exact amount.
While you plan everything for the time when you succeed in getting admissions, do prepare a plan of failure as well. This kind of thinking is called a growth mindset. Hard work and determination indeed pay off, but what if things don’t go as planned? Hence, learning from a challenging experience and growing is the right step to follow in that scenario. Also remember, if you are not failing, that means you aren’t learning anything new.
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