SAT expert tips:
In March 2016, College Board, the conducting authority of SAT, launched the redesigned SAT which brought some major changes in the test as well as in the scoring pattern of the exam. One of the most important elements that has changed in the test is that unlike earlier, SAT is now scored on a total of 1600 while the Evidence-Based Reading/Writing and Math sections are each scored on a 200 to 800 point scale.

Another interesting feature is that SAT test takers will no longer lose points for incorrect answers and blank responses will have no impact on the test. According to Ajay Koul, Executive Director, USA UnivQuest, the new element is bound to inflate SAT scores of students and also trigger higher cut-offs for students.

ajay_koulIn this interview with Careers360, Mr. Koul shares some of his expert insights on Sat preparation and how to get the maximum out of the redesigned SAT.


Q. Would the redesigned SAT test have any impact on the test takers? If so, how?

A. In India, from May 2016 the SAT will undergo a change in format, content and scoring. The new SAT will focus on the knowledge, skills and understanding of concepts, instead of just general reasoning skills. No easy points will be available for vocabulary. Since the guessing penalty has been removed, overall scores are bound to inflate. Including the essay section the new SAT is longer that the old one. The Essay has been moved to the end of the test, which though optional, will be required for applying to competitive universities. Overall, USA UnivQuest assesses that students will have to work harder and practice more. Scoring will be easier, reflecting in higher cut-offs for applications.   

Q. Could you give pointers on SAT1 preparation as against SAT 2? 

A. It is like asking for a comparison between chalk and cheese! The SAT – 1 lays focus on the knowledge, skills and general reasoning – skills identified as most important for college and career readiness. The SAT 2 tests student’s knowledge in a particular subject like Physics, Chemistry, Maths, etc. Unlike others who focus on “gaming” the test, USA UnivQuest lays emphasis on building the knowledge level of students, leading to better results. USA UnivQuest regularly score full 800 is SAT – 2. A lot of our students appear for SAT – 1 while in Grade 10, and score in excess of 2300 out of 2400, which itself is also amazing.


Q. Many universities do not mention the requirement of any SAT subject test. But it is still recommended that aspirants take the test. How does a student decide which SAT subject tests to take besides SAT1?

A. SAT Subject scores tend to add weight to a student's application. It demonstrates the academic strength of a student. As far as test scores are concerned, the more the better. We recommend that students appear in 3 SAT Subject tests. SAT Subject tests are divided into five broad areas: Mathematics, History, Science, Foreign Language and English. To present a well-rounded academic profile, students are encouraged to appear for at least one paper in each of Mathematics, Science and English. For those looking to major in Humanities and Arts, appearing in History and Foreign Language is recommended.

Q. What about mock test? How helpful are simulation tests in SAT (both SAT 1 and 2 preparation)?

A: Practice makes perfect. Students are encouraged to appear in sectional and full length mock tests. Only through an intelligent analysis of mock test performance can a student ensure an improved performance in the actual test.

Q. Which are the core areas of focus for USA UnivQuest?
A. The main focus of USA UnivQuest is to mentor undergraduate students to achieve excellence in their desired fields of study. In India, due to shortage of seats at best quality institutions, students learn to compromise either on the quality of the institution or on the stream that they would like to study. USA UnivQuest offers academic solutions that assist students in living their dreams. We focus our energies in mentoring students for admission in the Top 200 universities across the world, with special emphasis on US universities. These universities are all better than the best available option in India for the student. Our students are admitted at the best institutions across the world, including MIT, University of California, Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, etc.   

Q. What are the factors that a student should keep in mind before planning for a degree abroad?

A. Studying abroad is not for everyone. A student must be independent, emotionally stable and focused. The parents of such students need to manage the funds required for studying abroad. The minimum total budget for studying in USA will be around Rs 60 lakhs. Scholarships are available, but should not be depended on.  


Q. Which elements in the application package should an aspirant focus on to enhance his/her admission possibilities?

A. The primary requirement at elite institutions like MIT, CalTech, Harvard, Stanford, etc. is excellent performance in Grades 9,10, 11 and 12. Great results in Board Exams are not enough. Progression and performance in school, reflected through the Term Exams are also crucial. That apart, performance in SAT – 1 and SAT -2 are critical in the admission process. Increasingly, in order to demonstrate college level thinking and learning skills, students are appearing for Advanced Placement tests, that are also used to determine scholarships at many universities. Equal focus should be there on each of the aforementioned tests.


Q. Majority of the Indian students in USA are enrolled in Postgraduate studies. Do you think it is helpful for Indian students to pursue their UG abroad?

A. Let me answer this question through an example. At MIT, currently 18 students from India are enrolled in Bachelor’s degree programs, whereas around 301 Indians are enrolled for studying Master’s degree and above. Lesser interest among Indian students for bachelor’s degree programs means that admission is less competitive. There is another aspect, which is critical for a student’s career. Due to the higher competition for admission in Master’s level programs, only students from the IITs and other elite institutions in India gain admission. Those not admitted to elite Indian institutions have to compromise once again at the master’s level. We say stop the compromise. Instead invest in college education at bachelor’s level; it pays the best return. The Chinese have recognized this anomaly – the number of Chinese students studying bachelor’s degree is USA is almost equal to those studying master’s level programs. We are hoping that a similar realization dawns early on the Indian parent and student. It is better to study bachelor’s degree programs in USA than to be condemned to a lifetime of compromises and mediocrity.

Also read:

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SAT Preparation Tips

Know free resources to crack SAT


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Questions related to SAT

Showing 72 out of 72 Questions

I am 12th student and want to go to MIT .After going through the procedure I get to know I have to clear SAT first but its cost is high so I want to know the fee waiver process kindly tell

Vagisha Aggarwal 6th Apr, 2020

Hello Aspirant

There are various scholarships available , you can check them at the website of MIT. You will need to apply for them and then they will shortlist you on the basis of your application and interviews.

Also sometimes, some universities first accept you I.e. give you admission and then ask for your family's financial statements . if they feel and you can can't afford to pay the college fees they grant  you that much scholarship on their own.


can a pcb student write sat exam to get admission in priceto university

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 6th Apr, 2020

Princeton is an Ivy League Institution with a varied Academic outreach. The list of courses taught at Princeton have been listed at: . You haven't mentioned the course you want to study in Princeton. The eligibility criteria depend on the course you want to pursue. For admission to a particular course, you can take the SAT subject test to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of that subject. Subject tests are offered in Literature, History, Mathematics, Sciences and Foreign languages. So if you are a PCB student, you can take science subjects and appear for SAT. Though there is no specific requirement for Princeton, you will need to score more than 1440 to be even considered for Princeton.


my sat score is 1520 and my ielts score is 7 but my 12 boards percentage is around 60. Can i study abroad despite of my 12 boards result?MY jee main percentile is also 97.*Due to some health issues i was unable to study for my boards exams*

sathwika 3rd Apr, 2020

Hello Aspirant,

As you wanted to study in abroad and your sat score is 1520 and your ilets score is 7 and your jee mean to say joint entrance exam percentile is 97 and your plus  2 percentage is 60 and by this there is nothing which makes mandatory ti study abroad as you should attempt entrance examination to do you ug in abroad and you should just have 50 percent of aggregate marks in all the certificates and you should score good marks in that exam on that marks you should apply for the universities in abroad so study well and work hard to get good marks in the good colleges or universities All the best for your future and i think my suggestions and knowledge may be helpful to u.


syllabus of ntse stage 1 sat,mat, LCT

Akram Khan 22nd Mar, 2020

Hello aspirant,

National talent search exam (NTSE) syllabus is divided into two parts: SAT and MAT. NTSE SAT syllabus consist of:


Social Science

and Science subjects

whereas NTSE MAT syllabus consists of :

verbal and non-verbal reasoning.

The detailed syllabus you can get from the following link.

Hope this helps.


if i want to get myself admitted in the universities of US then do i need ielts or gre or sat certificates?

Ankita yadav 21st Mar, 2020
Hi aspirant
To study in foreign countries i.e. where English is an official language, all these countries ask for IELTS and they have different different scores for different countries. IELTS score lie between the scale of 0-9. And SAT is for graduation courses and GRE for master courses . And both of them have scholarships.

Hope this is helpful
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