Belgian and Luxembourgish students wishing to enter an American college or university must arrange to take one of the two basic standardized tests by the last year of their secondary studies. These standardized tests, which are also required of American high school students, include the ACT and the SAT. Your score on these tests will be considered by colleges in the admissions process, along with your secondary school records, your personal statement and letters of recommendation, and numerous other intangible factors.
Since both tests are now universally accepted by universities in the U.S., students usually can choose which test to take.
What is the SAT and what does it test? The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), or SAT General Test, is a multiple choice exam that assesses whether students possess the necessary verbal and quantitative skills to succeed in university-level studies. It assesses the student’s skills in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics. There is also an optional SAT essay for students applying to colleges and universities that want to see a writing score. Students receive a composite score from 400 to 1600 that takes the sum of their two section scores, which are each scored from 200-800.
The SAT Mathematics section of the test consists of 58 questions in the following topics: Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Passport to Advanced Math, and other topics. The SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section of the test includes both a 52-question Reading Test (with passages from US and World Literature, History/Social Studies, and Science) and a 44-question Writing and Language Test (with passages on Careers, History/Social Studies, Humanities, and Science). There is no Science component to the SAT General Test.
Please note that the SAT was recently redesigned. Since May 2016, international students have been taking the new SAT. On the new SAT, scores are based on the number of right answers and there is no penalty for incorrect answers.
What are the SAT Subject Tests? The SAT Subject Tests are more specialized and enable colleges to judge a student’s preparedness for specific courses. Tests are available for the following subjects: Mathematics Level 1 (with a focus on algebra and geometry), Mathematics Level 2 (with an additional focus on precalculus and trigonometry), Biology Ecological, Biology Molecular, Chemistry, Physics, English, U.S. History, World History, Spanish (reading and listening), French (reading and listening), Chinese (listening), Italian (reading), German (reading and listening), Modern Hebrew (reading), Latin (reading), Japanese (listening), Korean (listening).
Because European students tend to perform well in languages and science, we recommend that students take one or several SAT Subject Tests in order to enhance their application. Always check the requirements of each university in order to register for the appropriate SAT test(s).
When should I take the SAT? The SAT is offered six times per year. The dates for the 2016-2017 academic year are 1 October 2016, 5 November 2016, 3 December 2016, 21 January 2017, 6 May 2017, and 3 June 2017. You can see which SAT Subject Tests are available on those dates on the international registration page of the SAT website (collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/international). Online registration closes 1-2 months before the test date. It is important to allow time for the test results to be sent to admissions officers, so the earlier you take the test, the better!
It takes approximately three hours to take the SAT General Test. It takes one hour to take each SAT Subject Test and students can take up to three during a test period. You cannot, however, take the SAT and SAT Subject Test(s) on the same day.
How can I register for the SAT? All students taking the SAT outside of the U.S. must register online by going to http://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/international.
For the most part, admissions tests like the ACT and/or SAT are required of all foreign students. The most important thing to remember is not to worry too much about them! The results of these tests are only one element in your application. Admissions officers realize that foreign students generally have lower verbal scores than American students and will be more interested in your academic results than in the results of these standardized tests.