An Accounting Student's Guide to the SAT

by

Updated September 29, 2022

check mark Reviewed by

Our Review Network

Accounting.com is committed to delivering content that is objective and accurate. We have built a network of industry professionals across higher education to review our content and ensure we are providing the best information to our readers.

With their first-hand industry experience, our reviewers provide an extra step in our editing process. These experts:

  • Suggest changes to inaccurate or misleading information.
  • Provide specific, corrective feedback.
  • Identify critical information that writers may have missed.

Our growing Review Network currently consists of professionals in fields like business, nursing, social work, and other subject-specific industries; professionals in higher education areas such as college counseling and financial aid; and anti-bias reviewers.

Reviewers typically work full time in their industry profession and review content for BestColleges as a side project. Our reviewers are members of the Red Ventures Education Freelance Review Network and are paid for their contributions.

See a full list of our Review Network contributors.

This SAT guide for accounting students will walk you through the what, how, and when of the test, plus some helpful tips and resources.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Credit: Perawit Boonchu / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The SAT, or Scholastic Aptitude Test, is a college entrance exam the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) commissioned in 1925. A standardized test, the SAT measures high school students' proficiency in mathematics, language, reading, and writing.

First administered in 1926, the SAT has undergone several revisions, most recently in 2016. There were format changes in 2021, and more planned in 2024.

Many colleges and universities mandate students take this exam when applying for admission. More than 1,000 global test centers administer the SAT to about 2 million high school students each year.

The exam includes three sections: math, writing and language, and reading. While measuring students' general knowledge in these areas, the test also assesses the ability to understand and apply that knowledge.

For many institutions, the SAT is a cornerstone of the admissions process. Read the SAT guide below to learn more.

Is the SAT a Finance or Accounting Exam?

While the SAT is not an accounting or finance exam, it covers skills relevant to the fields. The Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies math and critical thinking as essential accounting competencies.

Besides math, the SAT measures student proficiency in reading, language, and writing. With strong scores, accounting students set themselves up for successful entry into accounting and finance programs.

Standardized Testing

As part of the admissions process, test centers administer standardized tests to assess aptitude. The College Board reports many institutions require SAT test scores as a part of the four-year college admissions process.

Standardized test scores provide a common metric for evaluating academic preparedness. High test scores identify students eligible for scholarships and other financial awards. Educational institutions and accounting programs often require SAT testing to systematize the review process.

Academic studies concluded test scores may predict academic success. Colleges without "Score Use" policies still prefer that students include the scores in the application.

Some accounting programs require SAT testing to ensure applicants can handle the rigors of the curriculum.

ACT and SAT Testing

The Guide to the 2018 ACT®/SAT® Concordance asserts SAT and ACT tests measure similar attributes. Students sometimes complete both exams to emphasize career preparedness and forecast strong academic performance.

How Is the SAT Structured?

The SAT has three sections: Reading, Writing and Language, and Math. The College Board discontinued the optional subject tests and essay requirement in January 2021.

Here is an overview of what you can expect to see on each section of the SAT:

Reading: This section contains 52 questions and has a 65-minute time limit. The test is based on reading passages, followed by completing multiple-choice questions.

Writing and Language: This section has 44 questions and has a 35-minute time limit. The test covers grammar, sentence structure, style, punctuation, and organization of paragraphs.

Math: This section contains 58 questions and has an 80-minute time limit. The test covers: Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Passport to Advanced Math, and Additional Topics in Math.

Completing the SAT takes three hours. People managing disabilities can request additional breaks prior to the test date.

Complete the SAT sections in any order. Unanswered or incorrect questions do not lower the overall test score.

Digital SAT

Beginning in 2024, the College Board will implement the Digital SAT in the U.S. While the test-taker still must take the SAT at a test center, the SAT will be digital. Students may also request authorization to bring a personal laptop. The test is computer-based, and students will receive scores immediately after completing the test.

SAT Exam Structure
Section # of Questions Question Format Time

Reading

52 questions

Multiple choice

65 minutes

Writing and Language

44 questions

Multiple choice

35 minutes

Math

58 questions

Multiple choice

Gridded response

80 minutes

Reading Section

The SAT reading test section directs the test-taker to read several passages before answering questions within a 65-minute time limit. The questions examine the specific text, the main idea of the passage, and the author's purpose.

Mastery of the above skills is key for accountants who regularly review and prepare written reports. This SAT guide describes the types and subtypes of questions covered in the reading section.

Question Types

The SAT reading section requires the test-taker to summarize a passage or pinpoint the author's intended meaning.

  • All the questions on the reading test link to a passage, a pair of passages, or a passage with an informational graphic.
  • Each reading test comprises five passages with 10 to 11 questions each, totaling ‌52 questions.
  • One of the five sets of questions will be about two "paired" shorter passages.

Top Tips

  • Read the question and passage: To improve reading comprehension, try summarizing the passage as you read. In your own words, state the central idea of each paragraph. Take notes while reading to uncover passage themes. For example, if a paragraph is about a new discovery in cancer research, ‌ask yourself questions like: What is the problem this addresses? What are the implications of this new discovery?
  • Summarize passage themes: Identifying the author's purpose can go a long way. For example, if a paragraph describes the outcome of a scientific experiment, ask yourself if those results support or weaken a central point of the passage, or if the author is calling for further research.
  • Reword the test question: Simplify questions by rephrasing them. Try to pose the question using "what", "why", or "how." Once you have a simpler question, head back to the passage to answer the question.

Writing and Language Section

The SAT Writing and Language test evaluates the test-taker's ability to plan and revise responses to various passages. Assessed skills include grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, and syntax.

It measures students' ability to use context clues. Students with these skills are more likely to succeed in college and in the accounting profession. Accountants communicate most effectively with decision-makers when leveraging these essential skills.

Question Types

The SAT presents three writing and language passage types: Argument; Narrative Nonfiction; and Information or Explanatory. Each type differs in purpose and scope. Test-takers have 35 minutes to complete the test. After reading four passages, applicants will complete 11 questions each, a total of ‌44.

Sometimes, there is no question. A number appears next to certain sentences in the passage, and that number corresponds to a set of multiple choice answers. This is called a "stemless question."

Test-takers select the multiple choice answer that reflects the best version of the highlighted passage phrase.

Top Tips

  • Read closely and critically: Highlight important elements and mark test content. Identify errors in grammar, usage, and punctuation. Examine passages and questions to find evidence that support writer claims, improve sentence structure and word choice, and pinpoint errors in grammar, usage, and punctuation.
  • Understand the point of the passage: Comprehend the function of each paragraph and the relevance of the corresponding sentences. Cross out extra words and eliminate wrong word choices. Remove text unrelated to critical information.
  • Understand question format and type:What was the question designed to evaluate? Assess passage vocabulary for expressed concepts. What are the main ideas and concepts of the passage? Which test questions are stemless questions? Remember to assess the entire passage, paragraph, or sentence when considering argumentative, informative/exploratory text, and nonfiction narrative passages.

Math Section

The Math section covers a variety of math skills, including algebra, geometry, and data analysis. This section tests the ability to solve mathematical problems, and understand and apply mathematical concepts.

The Math Test — Calculator and Math Test — No Calculator sections both cover three content areas called the Heart of Algebra; Problem Solving and Data Analysis; and Passport to Advanced Math.

The Math section is divided into two parts: the Math Test — Calculator (70 minutes) and the Math Test — No Calculator (55 minutes).

SAT Math Sections and Accounting

Knowledge of common mathematical concepts is key to scoring well on the SAT. Finance and accounting proficiency requires critical thinking, problem-solving, and data interpretation skills.

Accountants must understand and analyze financial information to make sound decisions about resource allocation. They also identify trends and relationships in data to forecast future financial performance.

Question Types

The SAT Math Test assesses arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis/probability aptitude.

Arithmetic includes work with fractions, decimals, and percentages, as well as operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Algebra includes solving equations and graphing linear equations, while also understanding and applying algebraic terms like slope, y-intercept, and x- and y-coordinates.

Geometry involves working with basic shapes like circles, triangles, and rectangles. Test-takers need to know basic terms like perimeter, area, and circumference.

Data analysis/probability questions calculate probabilities and statistical data, including mean, median, mode, and range.

The section includes two main types of questions: multiple choice and gridded response. Multiple choice questions have four answer choices, and students must select one. These questions are followed by four answer choices, with each choice corresponding to a letter (A, B, C, or D).

Gridded response questions require students to enter the answer into a grid on the answer sheet, rather than selecting from a list of choices.

Top Tips

  • Review Math section's reference information: Get a headstart on the SAT math section by familiarizing yourself with the reference information provided. Take time to understand it before the test. Review any math topics you feel unsure of. Focus on the questions you are weakest at.
  • Memorize different question formats: Classify and review the different question types. Understand how to approach each type of question, and practice calculating sample questions. Remember to practice completing both the calculator and non-calculator test sections. Practice as many problems as possible using math cards.
  • Avoid careless mistakes: Earn a high score on the SAT Math Test by knowing what to expect. Eliminate opportunities for mistakes by managing test time. Correctly answer as many questions as possible. Complete the questions you know and double-check each answer.

How Is the SAT Scored?

An SAT score report includes a student's total score on the SAT, as well as each score for the individual sections. A good SAT score is high enough to get the student into the college of choice.

Calculate scores by adding the number of correct answers in each test section. Factors affecting the final score include the number of questions answered correctly and the student's ability to complete each test within the time frame.

The SAT is scored on a scale of 400-1600, with subscores for the Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing sections on a scale of 1-15. There are also cross-test scores rated on a scale of 10-40 with percentiles for each section.

To calculate the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score, multiply your score for each section by 10, then add them together. To calculate the Math section score, multiply your math score by 20.

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) administers each test on behalf of the College Board by scanning each answer sheet to calculate the number of questions answered correctly. ETS scores and releases the traditionally formatted SAT ten days after the test date.

SAT Exam Scoring
Section Subsections Score Range Mean Score

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

Reading

Writing and Language

200-800

533

Math

Math only

200-800

528

NCES

SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Scoring
Test Score Range

Evidence-Based Reading Test

*Multiply test scores (ranging anywhere from 10-40) by 10

Evidence-Based Writing Test

*Multiply test scores (ranging anywhere from 10-40) by 10

CollegeBoard

*After calculating each Reading and Writing test score, add the two numbers together.

SAT Cross-Test Scores
Tests Raw Score Scaled Score

Analysis in Science

1-35

10-40

Analysis in History/Social Science

1-35

10-40

CollegeBoard

SAT 7 Subscores

Subscore

Raw Score

Scaled Score

Command of Evidence

1-15

10-40

Words in Context

1-15

10-40

Expression of Ideas

1-15

10-40

Standard English Conventions

1-15

10-40

Heart of Algebra

1-15

10-40

Problem Solving and Data Analysis

1-15

10-40

Passport to Advanced Math

1-15

10-40

CollegeBoard

What Are SAT Guides to Help Prepare?

Test-takers apply many methods when preparing for the SAT. Some students choose to take an SAT prep course, while others study on their own or with a paid tutor. There are many free online resources that prepare students for the SAT, such as practice tests and tips from previous test-takers.

SAT finance sections do not exist, so accounting students should leverage resources that improve math and reading comprehension. Practicing test-taking strategies, such as time management and identifying key information in questions, can be helpful.

Study Methods

  • Take a full-length SAT practice test: A practice test completed under timed conditions can help you figure out your improvement areas. You can purchase a prep book that includes full-length tests, like The Official SAT Study Guide. Or locate full-length tests online, either through an SAT prep course or by searching for free resources.
  • Study with a tutor: A tutor can help with specific topics you are having trouble with. You can often find tutors through school or online. Some people prefer to learn in a group setting, while others learn better one-on-one. You can even automate the tutoring process with online resources, like Khan Academy.
  • Start SAT prep early: First, take a practice test to pinpoint the areas you need help with. Consider investing in a tutor, prep course, or other available resource found in bookstores or online. For instance, Khan Academy can assist with math and science. Establish and maintain a study schedule to ensure you are ready on test day.

Resources

  • Tomato Timer: The Pomodoro Technique can maximize SAT study time. Set a timer for 25 minutes, work efficiently during that period, and then take a five-minute break. To monitor time, locate a traditional timer, set up a smartphone app, or try out the Tomato Timer, a free timer available online.
  • Kahn Academy Practice Test: Prepare for the SAT using the Official SAT Practice, a completely free resource offered by Khan Academy. Research shows students who use Official SAT Practice for six or more hours and follow at least one best practice score 39 points higher than those who do not.
  • Brainscape study flash cards: Brainscape flashcards are effective because students can create custom card decks to help recall SAT test content. Students can even share decks with other users. The tool organizes study materials based on personal objectives. For instance, accounting students can create flashcards to further develop math skills.

How Do You Register for the SAT?

In order to register for the SAT exam, students must create an account on the College Board website and provide their personal information, including name, address, email, phone number, and date of birth. They must also select a test date and location.

The cost to take the SAT is $60, and the late registration fee is $30. Your first four weekend SAT tests are free. After that, sending scores cost $12 per school. This free service expires nine days after completing the exam.

Visit the College Board's website to learn how much to reschedule or cancel a previously scheduled exam. Fee waivers are available to students living in the United States and U.S. territories. U.S. citizens living abroad may also apply.

Testing centers administer the SAT examination domestically and internationally. Students can register and find a testing center near them by visiting the College Board website.

To request disability accommodations to take the SAT, contact the College Board's Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at ssd@info.collegeboard.org or (609) 771-7137.

Register to complete the SAT exam no later than 29 days before your desired test date. After you take the exam and receive your score, apply to schools of choice.

FAQ on What to Bring to the SAT and Expect After


What should you bring (and not bring) to the SAT?

Monitor test center closures the days and hours leading up to the test. Check directly with the test center, including the website, the morning of the test date. If unsure how to get to the assigned test center, visit Google Maps to prepare directions beforehand.

When preparing to take the SAT exam, remember to print out the most recent admission ticket. Consider packing:

  • an acceptable photo ID
  • two No. 2 pencils with erasers
  • an approved calculator ( use it only during the " calculator" portion of the Math test)
  • face covering
  • a personal beverage
  • snacks
  • extra batteries
  • a backpack or bag to carry these items.

How many times can you take the SAT?

You can take the SAT as many times as you would like based upon testing center availability. There is no waiting period to retake the SAT.

How do you submit SAT scores to schools?

Most colleges and universities require SAT scores as part of the application process. If you are considering taking the SAT, research the prospective colleges' admission requirements. Make sure you know what scores these schools require.

How long are your SAT scores valid?

A year after completing the SAT exam, the College Board archives old SAT test scores and responses. You (or the colleges, universities, and scholarship programs of your choice) can request older scores. Official score reports sent to colleges five or more years after a test date will include a message explaining dated scores may not accurately predict college academic performance. Students can cancel scores by logging into the College Board account.

Reviewed by:

Lonnie Woods III is a student affairs administrator, professor, and professional development consultant whose work and research examine the career competencies of students interested in pursuing artistic careers or those studying arts-related majors in college. He has 10-plus years of experience working in education with professional experience spanning various institutions, including Pratt Institute, Maryland Institute College of Art, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York University, The George Washington University, and The Whitney Museum of American Art. Woods holds a bachelor of science in fine art photography from Towson University and a master of arts in higher education and student affairs from New York University. Woods currently serves as a professor within the arts administration master's program at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Lonnie Woods III is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.
Page last reviewed July 5, 2022

Recommended Reading

Search top-tier programs curated by your interests.

Let us know what type of degree you're looking into, and we'll find a list of the best programs to get you there.