The focus of our discussion on foreign education is 'graduate' studies, which means studies after you acquire a bachelor's degree. As mentioned earlier, what we call postgraduate studies in India is known as graduate studies in many foreign universities. What we call graduate studies here is known as undergraduate studies there. It is desirable that our students go abroad after securing a bachelor's degree here.
However, there are several parents who desire to send their children for undergraduate studies abroad. They should keep in mind that this is an expensive proposition. Further, if the student should continue studies in an overseas school soon after the plus two course in India, early preparation should have been made for appearing in 'SAT' (Scholastic Aptitude Test). The higher secondary certificate from an Indian school may not be accepted as adequate qualification for admission to undergraduate programs overseas. Also, evidence for proficiency in English language may have to be furnished through scores in TOEFL or IELTS.
Almost all American Universities, as also Universities in many other countries, accept the SAT scores as a
part of their undergraduate admission process. The proper combination of high school grades and SAT scores is taken as a reliable predictor of your academic success in undergraduate studies. Further, SAT helps admission officers to make fair and informed decisions.
SAT provides a path to opportunities, financial support, and scholarships. We can register for the test online and take the test held at different centres in India, six times a year. Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Dehra Dun, Hyderabad, Indore, Kochi, Kodaikanal, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Pune are among the usual test centres. Online registration requires Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express. The website: www.collegeboard.com. First you have to create a collegeboard.com account online by signing up. This enables you to
1. Register for SAT
2. Check your test centre assignment
3. Get and send SAT scores
4. Apply online to colleges
5. Print admission ticket for the test
6. View your scores as soon as they are available
7. Add schools to college list
8. Complete CSS Profile (College Scholarship Service Profile)
9. Get email reminders
For filling the registration form online, you have to find out the test center codes. This can be found out by choosing a test date and the country (India) in the website and clicking 'Search'. All the available Indian centres along with their codes will be displayed. If you want to send the money by draft/cheque, you will have to register by mail, and not online.
The tests are of two styles: (1) SAT Reasoning Test, and (2) SAT Subject Tests. (SAT Reasoning Test is often referred to as SAT). Only certain colleges require the Subject Test scores. The details of fees payable are given on the website. The main elements for students in India are shown below:
a) SAT Reasoning Test—$99
b) SAT Subject Tests: Basic registration fee
—$73 Language Tests with Listening
—add $21 All other Subject Tests
c) International processing fee—$28
d) Additional surcharge for testing in India—$24
e) Each additional score report request- $10 (Score reports will be sent to four institutions without additional fee. But if you want the reports to be sent to more than four institutions, an additional fee has to be paid.)
f) Rush reporting, for sending your score reports by first-class mail or by email- $29 These rates are subject to revision. So you need to check the rates prevailing you a rough at e-mail—$29 the time of your registration. However, the figures shown here offer estimate of the cost involved.
SAT REASONING TEST
The SAT Reasoning Test evaluates students' knowledge of subjects that are necessary for college success—reading, writing, and mathematics. The test assesses the skills of critical thinking, problem solving and communication necessary for academic success in the college. These are the skills that students have learned in high school. The SAT scores help to predict how well students would perform in college.
If you prepare well the test will not be tough for you. History shows that most students complete at least 75 percent of the questions. They answer 50 to 60 percent questions correctly.
Each section of the SAT is scored on a scale of 200 — 800. The average score is usually around 500. Admission in top universities may need more than 2100 out of the total 2400.
The SAT includes essay and multiple-choice questions. These are divided among
• Critical Reading
Let us look at these three parts one by one.
This comprises two sections of 25 minutes each and a third section of 20 minutes, totaling 70 minutes. This section will tell you how well you understand what you read. There are questions involving critical reading and sentence-level reading to check skills of comprehension, sentence completion, and 'paragraph' length critical reading'. Sentence completion measures your knowledge of the meaning of words, and your ability to understand ho different parts of a sentence blend logically together.
There would be 19 questions for sentence completion, and 48 questions for passage-based reading. You may attempt the sentence completion questions first, since they take less time than the passage-based questions.
Example for sentence completion:
Although his outnumbered troops fought bravely, the general felt he had no choice but to defeat and a retreat. (A) oversee — reject (B) acknowledge — order (C) hasten — suggest (D) seek — try (E) overcome — request
Correct answer: (B)
Wise strategies are essential for completing the sentences quickly. You may focus on the first blank in the given sentence, and try the options that appear first in the five answer pairs. If any answer choice is not in tune with logic, you can eliminate that pair. When a suitable option is found for the first blank, you may check whether the second in the same answer pair would fit in. Finally, read the sentence in full with your choices inserted appropriately, and confirm correctness.
This aims at measuring your ability to read and analyse passages ranging from 100 to 850 words. The subject may be humanities, natural science, literary fiction, etc. You may find passages that are narrative, argumentative, or expository. You may have to compare or contrast two related passages.
Questions based on a passage may touch the following aspects.
1. Finding the meaning of a word from the context
2. Understanding significant information stated directly in the passage
3. Synthesising and analysing information, evaluating the assumptions made and the techniques used by the author, identifying cause and effect, making inferences, recognizing the main idea, following the logic of an analogy or argument
Example for passage-based reading:
Study the passage given below and answer the questions:
Line 1 "The rock was still wet. The animal was glistening, like it was still swimming," recalls Hou Xianguang. Hou discovered the
Line 5 unusual fossil while surveying rocks as a paleontology graduate student in 1984, near the Chinese town of Chengjiang. My teachers always talked about the Burgess Shale.
Line 10 animals. It looked like one( •them. My hands began to shake," Hou had indeed found a Naraoia like those from Canada. However, Hou's animal was 15 million years
Line 15 older than its Canadian relatives.
In line 5, "surveying" most nearly means
(A) calculating the value of
(B) examining comprehensively
(C) determining the boundaries of
(D) polling randomly
(E) conducting a statistical study of
Correct answer: (B)
It can be inferred that Hou Xianguang's "hands began to shake" (line 11) because he was
(A) afraid that he might lose the fossil.
(B) worried about the implications of his finding.
(C) concerned that he might not get credit for his work.
(D) uncertain about the authenticity of the fossil.
(E) excited about the magnitude of his discovery.
Correct answer: (E)
The information required to answer the questions is certainly in the passage. The key factor is reading with care and concentration. You are not to answer any question based on your logic or prior knowledge. Follow faithfully what is given in the passage.
Complete a passage in full before jumping to the next. Otherwise you may waste your valuable time by re-reading passages, with the result that you leave some questions unanswered for want of time. As you proceed, mark the questions you have answered. This will eliminate the need for searching the questions you have not attempted.
FEATURES OF THE SAT REASONING TEST
Total duration — 3 hours and 45 minutes
For multiple-choice questions, you get one point for each correct answer. One-quarter point is subtracted for each wrong answer. No reduction in points for answers left blank.
A pencil is to be used for darkening the answer circles (not a pen).
All questions count the same (Answer first those questions that are easy for you. Skip those which appear to be tough. Do not spend too much time on any question. You can come back later on your second round, if you have time.)
The test booklet may be used for rough work.
If you feel that your scores do not reflect your knowledge and skills, you can take the test again.
This comprises two sections of 25 minutes each and a third section of 20 minutes, totaling 70 minutes. There are questions involving number and operations, algebra and functions, geometry, statistics, probability, and data analysis. There would be multiple-choice questions with five options, and 'student-produced responses (grid-in)'. The test includes such topics as exponential growth, absolute value, and functional notation. It also places emphasis on such topics as linear functions, manipulations with exponents, and properties of tangent lines.
This section will have 44 multiple-choice questions and ten student-produced response questions that provide no answer choices.
The distribution of questions would be as shown below.
Number and operations: 20 — 25%
Algebra and functions: 35 — 40%
Geometry and Measurements: 25 — 30%
Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability : 10 — 15%
The details of topics would be as shown below.
Number and operations (About 25 — 30%)
• Arithmetic word problems (including percent, ratio, and proportion)
• Properties of integers (even, odd, prime numbers, divisibility, and so forth)
• Rational numbers
• Sets (union, intersection, elements)
• Counting techniques )
• Sequences and series (including exponential growth)
• Elementary number theory
Algebra and functions (30 — 35%)
• Substitution and simplifying of algebraic expressions
• Properties of exponents
• Algebraic word problems
• Solutions of linear equations and inequalities
• Systems of equations and inequalities
• Quadratic equations
• Rational and radical equations
• Equations of lines
• Absolute value
• Direct and inverse variation
• Concepts of algebraic functions
• Newly defined symbols based on commonly used operations
Geometry and measurement (25 — 30%)
• Area and perimeter of a polygon
• Area and circumference of a circle
• Volume of a box, cube, and cylinder
• Pythagorean theorem and special properties of isosceles, equilateral, and right triangles
• Properties of parallel and perpendicular lines
• Coordinate geometry
• Geometric visualization
Data analysis, statistics, and probability (About 10%)
• Data interpretation (tables and graphs)
• Descriptive statistics (mean, median, and mode)
You can use a four-function, scientific, or graphing calculator. Your preparation can be on this basis. You will not be allowed to share calculators with other candidates. Do remember that many questions could be solved faster by using y your mind and logic than with the assistance of the calculator.
Certain calculators like those with QWERTY type keyboard, touch-screen, Bluetooth, paper tape, talk mode, internet access, cell phone, audio-camera, etc. will not be permitted.
Questions of this type have no answer choices provided. Instead, you must solve the problems and fill in your answers on a special grid. The mode of answering by entering them in the grid is similar to the filling of the machine-readable OMR sheet colums in our entrance examinations. You may go to the SAT link www.collegeboard.com for further details.
Although it is not essential to memorise formulae/identities for answering the Lose who know these by heart may solve some of the questions faster. Several formulae would be provided in the beginning of the question paper. Wherever possible, try to draw a quick sketch that would ease your logic.
The test lasts for 60 minutes. Your grammar, usage, and word choice are tested choice questions (35 min) and student-written essay (25 min). The short essay measures your ability to (1) organize and express ideas clearly, support the main idea, and (3) use appropriate word choice and structure. You may have to develop a point based on your personal experience, reading or observation.
Multiple Choice Questions
The multiple choice writing questions measure your ability to (1) improve sentences and paragraphs, and (2) identify errors (such as diction, grammar, sentence construction, subject-verb agreement, proper word usage, and wordiness). Identifying sentence errors involves recognising faults in usage as well as recognising sentences that follow the conventions of standard written English
The division of multiple choice questions is as follows:
Improving sentences: 25
Identifying sentence errors: 18
Improving paragraphs: 6
Improving sentences A part of each sentence given for improvement, or e sentence, is underlined. Under each sentence, five different ways of paraphrasing the underlined part are furnished. The first choice A repeats the original phrasing. The other four choices are different. If you feel that the the original phrasing is the best, needing no improvement, mark the answer as A'. Otherwise you choose the best option from the remaining four.
Identifying sentence errors There are mainly type of questions: (1) to measure your ability to identify two objectives for this to assess your skill in recognising effective sentences theartroarres in usage, and (2) to assess your skill in recognising effective sentences that are in the mould of standard written English. A sentence will he given with four underlined parts. There may be an error in one of the underlined parts. Sometimes, the sentence may have no error at all. No sentence will have more than one error.
Improving paragraphs The test will assess your ability (1) to edit/revise sentences in the given context, (2) to organise and develop paragraphs logicially, and (3) to follow the accepted conventions of standard written English.
Writing the essay
The general principles of essay-writing are relevant in SAT as well. But you have to pay attention to certain other features also to secure high scores in the test, since its approach is unique. For writing the essay effectively, you have to apply your mind to the following characteristics.
- Logical expression of ideas
- Clarity and precision
- Following conventions
- Recognising effective writing
You will be given an open-minded essay prompt, like the one given below. You will have to state a viewpoint and support it.
SAT Subject Tests (formerly known as SAT II)
Although some colleges only ask for scores obtained in the SAT (reasoning test), some others require scores in one or more SAT subject tests for admission and course placement. These scores give a recognised, accurate measure of college readiness. Even if scores in the subject tests are not essential as an entry requirement in the colleges of your choice, they may review your SAT subject tests scores, which can tell more about your academic competence. These tests are designed to measure your knowledge and skills in English, history, mathematics, science, and languages. Your ability to apply that knowledge will also be measured. The tests are independent of any particular textbook.
There are further parts I divisions in the subjects.
English - Literature
History - US history, World history
Mathematics - Level I., Level 2
Science - Biology E/M, Languages - Chemistry, Physics
Languages - Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Modern Hebrew, Spanish
All Subject Tests are, in general, one-hour, multiple-choice tests. But some of them may have unique features and formats. The types of questions may change little from year to year. The tests are offered six times a year. You can take one, two, or three tests on a single test date. The papers are machine-scored.
In Subject Tests in languages, there are two formats. Example: German, and German with Listening. For language tests 'with Listening' (Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish), you should take an 'acceptable CD player with earphones' to the test centre.
You may decide the subject tests you intend to take only after you fix the colleges where you seek admission. You can find out their admission requirements from the college websites or handbooks. The date for the test may be chosen to suit your personal requirement, keeping in mind your level of achievement (rained through systematic preparation.
Brief notes on various subject tests are given below.
About 60 multiple-choice questions to check how well you understand the following literary concepts:
(1) Meaning, including theme, argument and specific connotations of words
(2) Form, including genre, structure and organisation
(3) Tone, including diction, syntax and emphasis
(4) Figurative language, including imagery
(5) Narrative voice
There is no reading list. But you can develop the necessary skill through close critical reading of English and American literature of different periods. Try to analyse literary texts.
You have to be familiar with historical concepts, cause-and-effect relationships, and geography. You should be able to use historical knowledge in interpreting data in maps, graphs, charts, or cartoons. Your study should cover US history that focuses on pre-Columbian times to the present. Here are 90-95 multiple-choice questions, covering political, economic, social, intellectual, and cultural history.
You should know the key developments in global history. You should be able to use 'historical techniques', including application and weighing of evidence.
You may have to show your skill to interpret and generalise. Knowledge of facts and terms, geography, cause and effect relationships, understanding of major historical developments, and concepts for historical analysis would be tested. All this is covered in 95 multiple-choice questions.
MATHEMATICS LEVEL 1 AND LEVEL 2
You should expect questions from the following areas:
• Number and Operations
• Algebra and Functions
• Geometry and Measurement (plane Euclidean, coordinate, three-dimensional geometry, and trigonometry)
• Data Analysis, Statistics and Probability
• Calculator Use
You can use a scientific or graphing calculator for solving the problems. But use it judiciously, since its use may prove to be a disadvantage in some cases. 50 multiple-choice questions.
In Level 2, the number of questions from areas such as algebra and functions, co-ordinate geometry, and trigonometry would be more than in Level I. Further, topics like logarithmic/inverse trigonometric functions, ellipses, hyperbolas, polar co-ordinates, 3-D co-ordinates, and certain topics in Statistics would be rested only in Level 2.
BIOLOGY E / M
Biology E focuses on biological communities, populations, and energy flow. The focus of Biology M is on biochemistry, cellular structure and processes, such as respiration and photosynthesis. Choose E or M, depending on how comfortable you are with each area of study. You can indicate your choice of Biology E or Biology M on your answer sheet on the to day.
It is a one-hour test consisting of 80 multiple-choice questions. Out of these 55 to 60 questions would be common to E and M. The remaining questions would be either for Biology E or Biology M. The questions would touch the following areas of syllabus.
Basics: Cellular and molecular biology, cell structure and function, mitosis, photosynthesis, enzymes, molecular genetics, biological chemistry
Ecology: Energy flow, cycles, populations, communities, ecosystems, bioms Classical Genetics: Meiosis, Mendelian inheritance
Organismal biology: Structure, function, and development of plants and animals, animal behaviour. (A large proportion of the questions will be from this part.)
Evolution and diversity: Origin of life, evidence of evolution, natural selection, patterns of evolution, classification.
Biology E or M: Knowledge of fundamental concepts (factual information and terminology), Application (understanding concepts, evaluating information, applying knowledge, solving problems using mathematics), Interpretation (using data to form conclusion, identifying unstated relationships.) There may be questions that ask you to arrive at conclusions from data furnished in the form of graphs or tables. Basic knowledge of algebra and arithmetic (ratios and direct/inverse proportions, etc.) would also be required for answering certain questions. You should be able to understand such mathematical concepts, and apply them for solving word problems. The ability to organise and interpret results obtained from observation and experiments, and to draw inferences from experimental data will also be tested. You have to be familiar with the metric system of units. Since calculations would be simple, the use of calculators is not allowed in the test.
The skills tested would cover
(1) Understanding of major concepts of chemistry and the ability to apply principles to solve specific problems
(2) Ability to organise and interpret results obtained from observation and experiments, and to draw inferences from experimental data
(3) Laboratory experience and familiarity with the metric system of units
(4) Ability to handle simple algebraic relationships and to apply these to solving word problems
(5) Familiarity with the concepts of ratio and direct and inverse proportions, exponents and scientific notations.
If you go strictly by the school syllabus, you may find some questions on unfamiliar topics.
The skills tested would cover
(1) Ability to recall and understand major concepts of physics and to apply physical principles to solve specific problems
(2) Understanding of simple algebraic, trigonometric, and graphical relationships and the concepts of ratio and proportion, and how to apply these to physics problems.
(3) Familiarity with the metric system of units
If you go strictly by the school syllabus, you may find some questions on unfamiliar topics.
There are two French Subject 'Tests: French, and French with Listening. Both tests evaluate your reading ability and wide ranging knowledge in French. The French test usually includes reading Only—you read in French and answer 85 multiple-choice questions The French Test with Listening has an added dimension, as the name suggests. You listen for 20 minutes and read for 40 minutes. There are 85-90 multiple-choice questions. This test gives a more comprehensive picture of your ability and is more useful for placement purposes. The listening test is offered less frequently as compared to the other test. You should pay attention to precision of vocabulary, structure, and reading comprehension during preparation.
There are similar formats for the tests in Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Modern Hebrew, and Spanish.
STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS
Success in any test depends on how well you have prepared for that particular test, keeping in mind its style. A candidate who knows most does not necessarily secure the highest score. There are other factors, such as careful management of time, following directions in full, avoiding silly errors, total concentration. and most importantly, self confidence in the examination hail. Selection of easy questions is important. In tests with multiple-choice questions, do not spend time for questions that appear to be tough. Skip them and proceed to the questions that follow; they might be easier for you. If you hang on to a tough question and never skip it with the fond hope of answering all questions correctly, you are likely to end up in a bad situation where you may not find time even for reading some of the easy questions that follow. This should not happen to you. Plan well and work your plan in the examination hall.
You should start the preparation for SAT well in advance. The Official SAT Study Guide published by the College Board is of great help. It contains directions on approaches to test taking, eight practice tests, and sample essays and prompts. Also, there are official publications, such as The Official Study Guide for all Subject Tests, College Handbook, The College Board Book of Majors, and Getting Financial Aid. These can be ordered by filling the appropriate columns in the registration form. The SAT Online Course that offers practice tests, interactive instructions, and explanation of answers is another option. There are books and guides published by private agencies as well.
You may make full use of the material available in the 'Subject Tests Preparation Center'. Official SAT Practice Test of the College Board is available on its website, www.collegeboard.com. You can learn the nuances of the test format for each subject, reinforce your test-taking skills, and focus on areas where you need additional study. You can download the SAT Subject Tests Preparation Booklet free of cost from the website, and gather further details about the tests.
For securing high scores in reading and writing, you should have good proficiency in the English language. Reading English language newspapers, magazines, and books of quality will help you in this area. Listening to news and good discussions on television has its own advantages. Make a habit of referring to the dictionary when you are in doubt about the meaning of any word. No individual can substitute a good dictionary.
You should try to quickly write passages or summaries of stories in your own words. Studying carefully a couple of books on correction of common errors, and attempting deliberately to use correct expressions will make your speech and writing free from such errors.
Try to gain speed in using a calculator for solving mathematical problems.