Skills Required for the SAT

Skills Required for the SAT

SAT skillsThe SAT tests what you already know, the skills you have learned in high school. Specifically, the SAT covers three main topics: mathematics, critical reading, and writing.

You don’t need to remember what these areas are. For now, you can just glance over the topics to get an idea of what the test is about.


The topics covered in the mathematics sections of the SAT include the following. You have probably learned mathematics in high school that is not on the SAT. For example, trigonometry is not included on SAT questions, although they do test some knowledge of geometry. You’ll get a chance to see in more detail later what’s on the test and what’s not.

Topic Examples
Numbers and Operations Ratios, fractions, percentages, multiplication, division, use of π
Algebra Using letters as placeholders, solving multistep equations or word problems
Geometry The Pythagorean Theorem, slope of a line, finding volume
Data, Probability, Statistics Including tables and graphs, as well as descriptive statistics such as mean, median, and mode
Problem Solving Including multi-step geometry and algebra problems
Graphs and Figures Reading and interpreting graphs and figures for use in solving problems
Reasoning Skills In order to aid in and speed problem-solving
Connection between Topics Using knowledge/skills/understanding in various areas of math to solve individual problems
Mathematical Communication Including using the terms median and radian, as well as terms such as ‘more than’ and ‘not’


Critical Reading

On the SAT (and in general), “critical reading” refers to skill in reading something and analyzing what you’re reading. It’s “critical” not because you are criticizing what you are reading, but rather because you can understand what you are reading from multiple different angles. Here are some examples of critical reading tested on the SAT:

Topic Examples
Vocabulary Identifying the meaning of words (particularly within a larger context)
Understanding Literary Features Recognizing and understanding such features as character relationships, nuances, etc.
Understanding Organization Following the organization and ideas throughout a passage, including identifying the main and supporting ideas in a passage
Understanding Craft Understanding the author’s craft of a passage, such as his/her purpose, tone, and the literary devices he/she employs


In the writing sections, you will be tested on your ability in the following areas. As you can see, grammar is important to the SAT. In this course, you won’t have to listen to any lengthy lectures about grammar. Rather, you can just dive in and practice with realistic questions. The same grammar patterns show up on SAT questions time and time again, so by practicing writing questions, you can practice the grammar you need to know for the test.


Word Relationships Correctly identifying and employing the relationships between words, such as subject-verb agreement
Grammatical Structure Creating logical and cohesive grammatical structure through a piece of writing
Sentence Management Managing phrases and sentences, in order to avoid fragments, run-ons, and other common errors
Recognition Recognizing sentences that are correct and error-free
Organization Managing the organization of an entire piece (i.e., manage the organization of sentences and paragraphs)

These skills are gained over time, so the best way to prepare for the SAT is by continually challenging yourself in school and by constantly learning as much as you can, both in and out of the classroom.

In the short term, however, practicing SAT questions will help you become comfortable with the question types and general format of the SAT. They may also help you to identify your areas of weakness, so that you can work on these areas before taking the test. There are over 1,100 practice questions in this course, so together we will get you to your highest possible score.

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