SAT Reasoning Test I

The SAT Reasoning Test (formerly the SAT I: Reasoning Test and commonly referred to as the SAT I) consists of three sections: math, critical reading, and writing, which includes an essay. Beginning with the March 12, 2005, administration of the exam, the SAT Reasoning Test was modified and lengthened. Changes included the removal of analogy questions from the reading (formerly verbal) section and quantitative comparisons from the mathematics section. A writing section (with an essay) based largely on the former SAT II Writing Subject Test was added to the exam, and the mathematics section was expanded to cover three years of high school mathematics. Scores on each section range from 200 to 800, with scores always being a multiple of 10.

The new SAT contains ten sections and a total length of 3 hours 45 minutes; with the additional writing section, a "perfect" score on the new SAT will be 2400 (On the March 12, 2005 SAT, 107 students scored 2400; scores are calculated by the addition of the score on each section). The ten sections are divided up as follows: three math, three reading, and three writing, with one equating section which may be any one of the three types. The equating section does not count in any way towards a student's score; it is used to test questions for future exams and to compare the difficulty level of each exam. During the test, takers do not know which section is the equating section (however, it is never the essay or Section 10, which is always a 10 minute writing section). Each of the ten sections is ordered by difficulty (the test is commonly said to be "powered"), with the exception of the critical reading sections, which are organized chronologically. Each question now has five answer choices. Ten of the questions in one of the math sections are not multiple-choice. They instead require the test taker to input the result of their calculations in a four-column grid. For each correct answer, one raw point is added; for each incorrect answer one-fourth of a point is deducted. However, for the ten student-produced answers in the math section, no points are deducted for a wrong answer. The final score is derived from the raw score; the precise conversion chart varies between test administrations due to minor variations in test difficulty.

What scores on the new test qualify as "excellent", "average", or "poor" are yet to be determined. One of the reasons for the new test was to broaden the range of scores by adding another section; however, this tends to make judging new scores difficult. Many American colleges will require the new test, but will continue to only consider the reading and math score combination in the criteria of their admissions process. Some colleges will now accept the writing section in lieu of the SAT II: Writing Subject Test, which has been discontinued. Most universities and colleges plan to study the results from the new tests for several years before setting expectations and requirements.

In the early 1990s, the SAT consisted of six sections: two math sections (scored together on a 200-800 scale), two verbal sections (scored together on a 200-800 scale), the Test of Standard Written English (scored on a 20-60+ scale), and an equating section. In 1994, the exam was modified, removing antonym questions, and adding math questions that were not multiple choice. The average score on the 1994 modification of the SAT I was, in theory, 1000 (500 on the verbal, 500 on the math), though the most recent national average was 508 for math and 518 for verbal. The most selective schools in the United States (for example, those in the Ivy League athletic conference) typically had SAT averages exceeding 1400.