What Do You Know About the SAT?



By: Deborah Beckwin

6 Min Quiz

In what year was the first SAT exam administered?

The SAT exam has been around for close to a century. High school students first took the SAT exam in 1926.


Of the over 8,000 test takers who took the first SAT exam, what percentage of them were men?

In 1926, when the first SAT exam was administered, 60 percent of test takers were men. Out of that percentage, 25 percent were applying to Yale.


The organization which offers the SAT is the College Board. When was it founded?

The College Board was founded in 1900 and is a nonprofit organization. If you've ever taken an AP (Advanced Placement) course, they're responsible for those programs and exams as well.


The SAT exam had its roots in an IQ test administered to which branch of the U.S. military?

Around two million Army recruits were given tests created by Carl Bingham, who would later head up a committee at the College Board to create a test which became the SAT. The IQ test had two purposes, with the first being to identify candidates for officer positions, and the other to bolster the statistical evidence for IQ tests.


In what year did Ivy League colleges use the SAT as a scholarship test?

Harvard University was the first to use the SAT in 1934, as a way to award a scholarship for outstanding public school students. Then, in 1935, Harvard used the test for all its scholarships. By 1939, all Ivy League colleges used the SAT to award scholarships.


The first SAT test had how many sections?

The first SAT test looks wildly different than it does today. There were nine sections or subtests of the test, with 315 questions. The test itself took a little under 100 minutes to take.


In what year did the College Board recalibrate SAT test scores?

Over time, the SAT became increasingly taken by more students, the majority of them being from public school. SAT test scores were lowered as a result. So in 1995, the College Board recentered the scores, which improved the chances for students to score higher on the test.


Which testing service creates the SAT for the College Board?

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) is a nonprofit organization which was created in 1947. In addition to the SAT, ETS also creates and administers exams such as the GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language).


How many SAT tests are given each year?

Every year, the SAT is given seven times throughout the year. There are tests given more frequently during the fall, right before college applications are due in January. And out of those tests, four are made public each year.


It takes about 18 months to create a new SAT exam. Approximately much does it cost to write a new one?

It takes a lot of effort to come up with a new SAT exam. Besides the expense in time, it costs close to $350,000 to create a new one, according to ETS.


So what does the acronym SAT currently stand for?

You may be surprised by this answer, since two of the answers, Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Assessment Test, were true back in the day. Other former names include SAT I: Reasoning Test and SAT Reasoning Test. Now it's just called the SAT.


In which country was the SAT canceled in 2013?

For the first time, in 2013, ETS canceled an SAT testing session for an entire country, South Korea. Government officials in Seoul had raided tutoring companies which had obtained SAT questions and confirmed ETS's allegations.


Who started the first SAT prep company in 1938?

Before there was the Princeton Review or Khan Academy, there was Kaplan. Stanley Kaplan started his tutoring service in the basement of his parents' Brooklyn home. Only in the 1970s did he expand his services outside the New York area, and now Kaplan Test Prep is a household name.


What is the name of the 2004 Off-Broadway play which focuses on SAT tutoring?

None of the Above was written by Jenny Lyn Bader, and it's about an obnoxious teen and her relationship with an SAT tutor. The play went on Broadway with Alison Pill (famous for HBO TV show, "Newsroom") as the lead.


How many total points can you currently score on the SAT?

From 2005 to 2016, the SAT actually had a total of 2400 points because there was an added essay section worth 800 points. Then it went back to 1600 points in 2016.


In 2011, an Emory University college student named Sam Eshaghoff took the SAT test for other people at least how many times?

Each time Eshaghoff fraudulently took the SAT, he earned $2500 and would score in at least the 97th percentile. Ironically, or maybe more poetically, he was sentenced to tutor impoverished students on the SAT.


Until 2016, you were penalized for guessing on the SAT. How many points were taken off for a wrongly guessed answer?

Before 2016, it was better to leave answers blank and get zero points than to try to guess. Testers were penalized one-quarter of a point for wrong guessed answers. As of 2016, the guessing penalty was eliminated.


How many points do you get on the SAT for correctly spelling your name?

Sorry, but this is an old myth! On SAT's FAQ, they state theoretically, if you filled out the test without any answers, you'd get 200, but that's only because SAT does not report scores lower than 200. Snopes.com states that due to scaling, a tester with no answers given would get a little above 200 points for each section, so the lowest a tester could get is at least 400. But an empty test would not be reported by SAT and the score would be canceled – so zero is the right answer.


In what year did submitting a photo become a requirement for registering for the SAT?

In response to cheating scandals which involved students using fake IDs and taking tests for other students, the SAT required submitting a current photo to register for the test. Then at the testing center, a student needed to show a photo admission ticket or acceptable photo ID which matched the picture submitted at registration. Students also had to confirm which high school their scores, and photos, were to be sent.


In 2016, the College Board created a partnership with which organization to provide free online practice questions and instructional videos on the SAT?

This was one of the many changes which came in 2016 for this standardized test. The College Board wanted to combat the notion that SAT prep was only accessible for those who had a lot of money for test prep courses. So in the spring of 2016, they rolled out free online test prep materials through the Khan Academy.


Which of the following foreign languages would be best to study if you wanted to boost your SAT scores?

Latin may be dead, but it can make your SAT scores come alive with more points. Along with Chinese and Korean, studies have shown that taking Latin can give SAT scores at least a 180-point boost. But studying any foreign language in high school will help improve test scores.


Back in the early 1900s, the SAT scoring was a bit unkind if you had lower scores. Which of the following was NOT used?

OK, so at least they didn't use the term "Terrible." But the rest of the words were used. On the more favorable side were "Excellent" and "Good."


Which of the following SAT test sections is optional?

The New SAT added an essay section in 2005, which is why there were an added 800 points to the total possible score. Now that section is optional. The math section is further divided into two tests, one that needs no calculator and one that does need a calculator.


Along with the optional essay section, what is the largest number of SAT test sections that a student could possibly take in one sitting?

Along with the three required test sections, and the optional essay section, sometimes test takers are given an extra section of the SAT but the section will not be counted as a part of the tester's score. This is because it's essentially a fake section given to give test questions a test spin in real life. The College Board and ETS will use that information to edit and improve future test questions for future tests.


Without the essay section, how many hours long is the SAT?

It takes there hours to take the SAT. The Writing and Language test takes 35 minutes, the Math test takes a total of 80 minutes, and the Reading test takes 65 minutes.


How much did it cost to take the SAT when it was first introduced?

Five dollars back in the early 20th century was still a considerable amount of money. As of this writing, the SAT cost $47 to take, with an additional $10 for the essay. Adjusted for inflation, $5 back then would be close to $150 as of 2017.


In what year was the first Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) given?

High school sophomores juniors can take the PSAT, also called the National Merit Scholarship Qualification Test (NMSQT), to familiarize themselves with the SAT. If they score significantly well, students can become eligible for scholarships through the National Merit Scholarship Program.


When were the first SAT Subject Tests given?

Like the SAT itself, the SAT Subject Test has gone through some name changes. In 1937, they were called the Scholarship Tests, but were also known as the Achievement Tests. As of 2005, they were know SAT II: Subject Tests and are occasionally still known by that name.


Which of the following is NOT an SAT Subject Test?

Although Latin is one of the 20 subjects you can take an SAT Subject Test on, Greek is now. Most of the tests are based on languages, with the most popular being French and Chinese being a close second.


Out of the following, which celebrity has the highest SAT score?

Out of the four listed, the women come out on top! Recording artist Ke$ha had a score of 1500 and actress Natalie Portman had a score of at least 1400. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton had a score of 1032 while baseball great Derek Jeter had a score of 1200.


In what year was Score Choice, which allowed test takers to choose which SAT scores to report to schools, made available?

The College Board announced in 2008 that it would make the Score Choice option available to students in the following year, hoping it would ease testing anxiety. When this option became available, some elite schools still required all scores to be submitted, while others let students choose which score they wanted to report and focused on the highest score per section. This is not available for the SAT Subject Tests.


When were antonym questions removed from the SAT?

Antonym questions had been on the SAT since 1926. Their removal in 1994 meant test takers cramming for vocabulary had to change their studying tactics. In its place were more reading passages.


Studying for the SAT tests has long been known for its extensive vocabulary. In what year did the College Board change what kinds of words were used in the verbal parts of the exam?

It's a bit of a running joke, if someone uses a large word, it can be called an "SAT" word. Now instead of using words like "mendacious," test takers have to understand words used in the context of passages. You should look up the January 2016 press release from the College Board (it's tongue-in-cheek) if you want to see all the belabored language that students now don't have to memorize just for this exam.


The SAT Subject Test for writing was originally which part of the SAT when it was introduced in 1974?

The Test of Standard Written English (TSWE) was meant to take the place of a placement exam for college freshmen. It was a 30 minute exam which tested grammar and writing. In 1994, this part of the SAT is dropped and later becomes the SAT Subject Test for writing.


Another mainstay for the SAT were the verbal analogy questions. When were they dropped from the test?

2005 brought some major changes to the SAT, including dropping the verbal analogies which were famous (and infamous) for SAT test takers. Since the first SAT in 1926, analogies had been on the exam. This was a part of a larger revamping the verbal section of the test.


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About This Quiz

So let's warn you about this quiz. You're not going to be encountering sample questions from previous SAT tests. Phew! What you will be quizzed on is the history of this important U.S. college entrance exam. What this quiz is not is the Stanford Achievement Test (which has the same initials), which is a standardized test that students from grades kindergarten into high school took as a way to assess individual and collective scholastic achievement. After the federal law No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was ratified, many states decided to use their own state-created tests. So it's still in use, just not as widely.

This SAT is one of the ways colleges look at college applicants and determine who they should admit. And it gets pretty competitive when it comes to trying to get the highest score. There have been many cheating scandals and subsequent attempts to verify the identity of testers. But some high school students can choose colleges, including top-tier colleges, that make SAT scores optional for admission. There's also the other college admission test, the ACT, which has been competing with the SAT to be the college entrance exam for years. And that stiff competition continues. So are you ready to get to the head of the class and take this quiz? We're sure you're going to ace it. Good luck!

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