The basics
THE USA: Applying to University

Choosing between SAT 1 and SAT 2


We have all heard about taking SAT exams to apply for Higher Education institutes, but why is it that there are two different versions for the SAT exams? Does that mean you have to take them both or either one of them? What is the purpose of each of the exams? And which one is right for you? Our Editor answers all these questions.

SAT Exams

The Scholastic Assessment Tests (SAT) are set up by the College Board. College Board also caters for the applications and course search for Higher Education in the USA. SAT exams can be a requirement for courses you wish to apply to in the US. This means applying to universities in other countries like UK, Australia and Malaysia might not require you to take the SAT exam. So, before you decide which exam to pick, make sure your course requires you to take it.

The SAT exam allows the universities to make fair judgments for selecting candidates from different schooling systems and assess the students on key skills like numeracy and literacy. Having taken the SAT exams, you will be more likely to be accepted for your desired course as a good score reflects a high level of competence.

Structure and preparation of the exam: SAT 1

Taking SAT 1 will usually be a requirement when applying to a school in the US. This will allow the universities you have applied to judge your application on fair grounds. The SAT 1 exam only contains Literacy and Numeracy assessment areas, divided into three sections of Critical Reading, Writing and Mathematics.

The Mathematics section lasts 70 minutes and contains numbers and operations, algebra, geometry, statistics, probability and data analysis. The Critical Reading section lasts 70 minutes and includes sentence completion and comprehension. Lastly, the Writing section lasts 60 minutes and includes grammar usage and word choice questions. All the sections appear in a random order in your exam. There is a total of 2400 score that you attempt in one sitting.

You can prepare for SAT exams through resources provided online. These resources include sample papers, book resources and exercises. Some of the resources are free while others can be purchased through the website. Some people also find it beneficial to take classes and crash courses with local tutorial services.

Structure and preparation of the exam: SAT 2

The SAT 2 exam is also known as the Subject SATs. SAT 2 is available for 20 different subjects across five areas of history, mathematics, science, English and foreign languages. You can take as many tests as you wish, based on your personal interests and requirement of the course you are applying for. The courses will not usually ask you to take SAT 2 exams but it helps signal a higher level of specialized competence in your field of interest.

Each of the tests is structured differently and is based on the college level content from that specific subject. You can find out about the test structures and content on the College Board’s website and order resources for preparation. You can find sample questions and limited resources available on the website for free, while extensive resources including books can be bought in local book stores or online from the College Board’s website.

Benefits and purpose of SAT 1 and SAT 2

Applications for universities will usually require you to take SAT 1 exam, while you will have the choice to take SAT 2 exam or not. This is because SAT 1 covers general competencies from literacy and numeracy that are relevant for all fields of study, while SAT 2 focuses on specialized knowledge from different fields. This is why SAT 2 can be a great way of building your credentials for university applications, which will make it more likely for you to secure place at university.

SAT 2 can also be beneficial when applying for scholarship applications, as it shows your exceptional knowledge and interest in a specific field, something that funding schemes are generally looking for. Remember to choose the right subject test that will benefit you throughout your academic path.

You can benefit from SAT 1 and SAT 2 scores, not only for your undergraduate admission but even later, when you apply for jobs and post-graduate applications.


Image Source: Docsity

You might also like to read:

GRE: Graduate Record Examination

Teacher Education Scholarships: Grooming Future Generations

Choosing the Right University

Search for a course

Study level*
About Author

First class business graduate aspiring to gain diverse range of work experience before eventually building a career in Business Development, Human Capital Development and Analytics while alongside pursuing interests in literature, writing, photography and coordination.


'Study in the USA' eBook

Enjoy what you’ve read? We’ve condensed the above popular topics about studying in the USA into one handy digital book.