The SAT (/ˌɛsˌˈt/ ess-ay-TEE) is a standardized test widely used for college admissions in the United States. Since its debut in 1926, its name and scoring have changed several times; originally called the Scholastic Aptitude Test, it was later called the Scholastic Assessment Test, then the SAT I: Reasoning Test, then the SAT Reasoning Test, then simply the SAT.

TypePaper-based standardized test
Developer / administratorCollege Board, Educational Testing Service
Knowledge / skills testedWriting, critical reading, mathematics
PurposeAdmission to undergraduate programs of universities or colleges
Year started1926; 95 years ago (1926)
Duration3 hours (without the essay) or 3 hours 50 minutes (with the essay until June 2021)
Score / grade rangeTest scored on scale of 200–800, (in 10-point increments), on each of two sections (total 400–1600).
Essay scored on scale of 2–8, in 1-point increments, on each of three criteria
Offered7 times annually[lower-alpha 1]
Countries / regionsWorldwide
Annual number of test takers Over 2.19 million high school graduates in the class of 2020[2]
Prerequisites / eligibility criteriaNo official prerequisite. Intended for high school students. Fluency in English assumed.
FeeUS$55.00 to US$108.00, depending on country.[3]
Scores / grades used byMost universities and colleges offering undergraduate programs in the U.S.
2013 logo

The SAT is wholly owned, developed, and published by the College Board, a private, not-for-profit organization in the United States. It is administered on behalf of the College Board by the Educational Testing Service,[4] which until recently developed the SAT as well.[5] The test is intended to assess students' readiness for college. The SAT was originally designed not to be aligned with high school curricula,[6] but several adjustments were made for the version of the SAT introduced in 2016, and College Board president, David Coleman, has said that he also wanted to make the test reflect more closely what students learn in high school with the new Common Core standards.[7]

The SAT takes three hours to finish and as of 2021 costs US$55.00, excluding late fees, with additional processing fees if the SAT is taken outside the United States.[8] Scores on the SAT range from 400 to 1600, combining test results from two 200-to-800-point sections: the Mathematics section and the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section. Although taking the SAT, or its competitor the ACT, is required for freshman entry to many colleges and universities in the United States,[9] during the 2010s, many institutions made these entrance exams optional,[10][11][12] but this did not stop the students from attempting to achieve high scores[13] as they and their parents are skeptical of what "optional" means in this context.[14][15] In fact, the test-taking population was increasing steadily.[16] And while this may have resulted in a long-term decline in scores,[16][17][18] experts cautioned against using this to gauge the scholastic levels of the entire U.S. population.[18]

Starting with the 2015–16 school year, the College Board began working with Khan Academy to provide free SAT preparation.[19] On January 19, 2021, the College Board announced the discontinuation of the optional essay section, as well as its SAT Subject Tests, after June 2021.[20][21]

While a considerable amount of research has been done on the SAT, many questions and misconceptions remain.[22][23] Outside of college admissions, the SAT is also used by researchers studying human intelligence in general and intellectual precociousness in particular,[24][25][26] and by some employers in the recruitment process.[27][28][29]