The SAT: A Comprehensive Guide for International Students!

The SAT: A Comprehensive Guide for International Students!

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From Study in the USA partner BridgeU:

The SAT is the main standardised test used by American students to apply to university or college. Although it is not mandatory for international students to take the SAT in order to get into all U.S. universities, a good SAT score can do wonders for the strength of a candidate’s application. As an international student, if you can take the SAT it is almost always a good idea to do so, especially since many universities do not require you to report your scores if you do not do very well.

Furthermore, it is important to do well on the SAT, as the test acts as the main way by which you can be compared—academically, at least—with your U.S. peers, as most likely you will be coming from a different education system. As the SAT is primarily geared toward domestic American students (culturally, and linguistically), it can be a challenge to take it as a student outside the U.S. This article will provide a comprehensive step-by-step description of how to take the SAT as an international student and what to expect if you do decide to take the test:

What you will need to register for the SAT:

A digital passport style photo

A debit or credit card with which to pay to register for the SAT (see cost section for details)

An account with Personal details including information about your school

Step-by-step guide:

1) Register with the College Board – It is a good idea to register with College Board as soon as possible because it is here you that will be able to see where and when you can take the SAT. To register now, click here.

2) Fill out personal information in your College Board profile – This bit is important so make sure you do it as accurately as you can and as early as you can because mistakes in your personal information could lead to you not getting your scores or you not being able to successfully register for the SAT

3) Find Your Nearest Test Centre – There are thousands of test centres around the world. Find out which one is the most convenient for you using this tool: Test centre finder.

4) Pick Your SAT Date – As soon as you can, pick a date and mark it in your calendar so you can plan your study schedule. It’s generally advised to pick a date close to 6 months out, so that you can give yourself adequate time to prepare. This is a list of the upcoming SAT dates: upcoming SAT dates for international students.

5) Book and Pay for Your Test – When you have picked your date and have gathered the relevant materials (see “What you will need” section above), you should book and pay for your test through College Board. To do so you will need to sign into your College Board account and follow their instructions. 

Remember to pick and book your SAT date as soon as possible because test centres get filled up. If you know you only have one test centre nearby, be sure to book your test several months in advance.

6) Start Studying – The SAT is the type of test that can be learned. The rule is simple. There is a positive correlation between time spent studying and results –this means that the more you study for the SAT the better you tend to do (on average). In order to study well, it is recommended you purchase a practice book. Barron’s, Kaplan, and College Board all provide good examples of SAT practice books. Furthermore, there are several places online where you can find and download practice SAT tests for free.

Positive Correlation Studying for SAT & Results

It is also possible to find websites that offer practice tools, some of which are free and others require payment. You might also consider employing an SAT tutor. SAT tutors can be available locally to where you live, but others teach on Skype! For free test preparation & helpful breakdowns about each of the topic areas on the SAT, check out Sparknotes’ comprehensive guide here!

7) Time to Take the SAT!  When you finally end up taking your SAT, there are a few things you should remember: A list of what you should and should not take to the testing centre can be found here. Many countries do not have number two pencils; in this case an HB pencil is a perfectly acceptable substitute. In addition, although Collage Board recommends you bring two pencils, it never hurts to be over prepared and bring more. 

Be sure to review the list of what you do and do not need found on the College Board website the day before your SAT.

The Cost:

The SAT for international students costs a minimum of $85.50 per test depending on where you are taking it. Be warned however, there are a wide range extra costs for things like score reports or booking your test over the phone. Further details on costs and to check the price of your location check the College Board website here.

You’ve got your scores now what? Time to Part-aaay? Not quite…

So now that you’ve received your scores, you have a decision to make. You can either choose to retake the SAT, if you’re not happy with your score. Or, you can choose to send your scores to your universities! Again, the College Board website is the place to go. Just log in and select the Universities you want to send your scores to. You may need to pay College Board if you apply to more than four universities as you only get to send off four free score reports per SAT result.

If you need help selecting which universities to apply to, and if you want help building a unique application strategy, check out BridgeU’s Matching and Strategy tools –perfect for international students as BridgeU’s resources and tools are all available online! BridgeU is the only comprehensive US college application tool for international students. By use of a custom algorithm, BridgeU synthesizes relevant information about a student’s academic profile, individual preferences and pre-career ambitions to produce the best-match list of universities for that specific individual.

The SAT Subject Tests:

Many of the top tier universities require students to take one or even two SAT Subject Tests (SAT IIs) in addition to the regular SAT 1. The SAT Subject Tests are formatted similarly to the SAT 1 in that all the answers are multiple-choice.

Instead of testing for general aptitude, however, the SAT subject tests attempt to gauge your knowledge of a specific subject or area of expertise. SAT Subject Tests areas include languages, English, social and hard sciences. You can determine which ones you are best prepared to take by examining practice questions from each test on the College Board website or in a SAT Subject Test practice book.

Signing up for the Subject Tests is a very similar process to signing up for the regular SAT and can be done through your College Board account, but be aware that finding a test centre that accommodates the Subject Tests can be a little more difficult than finding one that accommodates the regular SAT.

By James, from BridgeU.

Read this post on the BridgeU blog