SATs: Pathway to Study in the USA

SATs: Pathway to Study in the USA

Many students at Ellesmere College begin considering their pathways to further education as soon as they enter Lower Sixth and the College offers all pupils a broad range of opportunities to choose from during that time. Some may choose universities within the UK or further afield, but for those who wish to pursue a route to universities in the United States or some other countries including Canada, Australia, Italy and Singapore - the SAT study option demanded by the American College Board will be required.

Studying SATs At Ellesmere

The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) is a globally recognised standardised University Admission Test used for student applications. It tests the candidate's knowledge of reading, writing and maths - subjects that are taught every day in school classrooms. Ellesmere enables students the opportunity to prepare for this SAT Assessment through a Third-Party provider.

SAT/ACT Support for US University Applications
Students applying to US (and some European) universities are usually required or recommended to sit standardised entrance tests, the SAT or ACT.

These tests are very different in nature to any students will have previously taken, and require a great deal of practice over several months. Success on either test is heavily dependent on technique as well as familiarity with the content.

Ellesmere has agreed a discount of £300 for students on SAT/ACT courses delivered by UES Education, the leading organisation for US college application support in the UK. Students may register for one of UES's online courses, which are 20 hours in length held over 4 or 5 days, or on a weekly basis for a total cost of £695.

Courses are taught by expert tutors who specialise in these tests, and include course books posted to your house, online progress tools and 5-7 practice tests. The course covers all the content and technique necessary to continue practising effectively before the real test.

Which Test?
Although the SAT is more commonly known, the ACT is taken by a similar number of students, and both tests are viewed equally by all institutions. It is therefore important that students prepare for the test they are most likely to score best on. To that end, students should take a free SAT/ACT Diagnostic Test, here:

About UES Education
UES Education is the leading provider of US college application support in the UK. They work with around 200 UK schools and help over 700 students a years through their US university applications. UES covers all aspects of the process, from choosing colleges and sourcing funding, to writing essays and getting accepted, as well as expert tuition and courses for the entrance tests: the SAT and ACT. Their tutors have passed the tests with full marks, and their consultants speak at the governing bodies for international admissions, and train teachers across the UK on US admissions.

The success also relies on families doing research themselves to ensure students are clear about the individual institution they are making an application to as each will have its own requirements, and specific conditions if applying for a scholarship.

Taking the SAT is the first step in finding the right college for the next stage of the student's academic career, but SAT scores are just one of many factors that Universities consider when making their admission decisions. School grades are also very important. In fact, the combination of School grades and SAT scores is the best predictor of your academic success.

An Independent Approach

There is a clear need for commitment from the student once they have enrolled on the course to:

Attend a weekly session where their progress through the on-line course will be reviewed by the online tutor. The on-line course follows a set schedule that allows students to attend class from any on-line computer or even their mobile and provides additional flexibility as students can access the lessons and the resources at any time, and any location.

Register on-line to sit the test. The SAT online tutor will explain this in the webinar but you are advised to become familiar with the requirements by looking at the registration site: SAT Register

Students can sit the test on any one of the three dates available in the year: December, March and May.

Once registered for the test, students will need to arrange to travel to the test centre. They must take with them to the test a printed copy of their registration ticket, which will have been emailed to them once they register, a photo ID, and if entitled to exam arrangements, such as extra time they will need to take a letter from us to verify that.

US Sports Scholarship Routes

The College ideology is always about preparation for the next steps and with the sports scholarship route, this is no different. In all areas of Ellesmere, the opportunities to further progress and take the talent of everyone to the next level is paramount in the thinking, design and delivery of the curriculum and the wider opportunities and networks around them. Each year several our talented sports pupils explore US routes and below is a summary of some of the processes and pathways that exist.

Football Academy

Ellesmere Football Academy works closely with "Soccer Assist" and namely, Tyrelle McLeod-Bentley to enable those ambitious and talented players to explore the opportunities available to them with the US Scholarship system. Students will work on creating their online profile and will be supported on their journey with SAT online programmes and tuition. The players will then take part in a fully professional assessment day and this helps to inform the coaches of the levels and potential of the payers. Soccer Assist then work closely with the players of the Ellesmere Academy to establish excellent offers into US College programmes.

Read Saranga's US story here

To find out more about Soccer-Assist, please click here

Tennis Academy

The Tennis Academy has a developed relationship with American universities through our relationship with Tennis Smart. Sarah Borwell, a former player on the WTA circuit, is the College's key point of contact. Sarah has delivered several presentations for pupils and families, one in the College and one at Shrewsbury Club in the past few years. Sarah has sent many tennis players over from the UK including some of the coaching teams' previous students.

To find out more about Tennis Smart, please click here


The coaches of the Titans will initially help the swimmers input details into the NCAA swimming site and from here, the students then work through places they'd like to attend and discover how to then start making contact and the require application proves. As many of the Titans are already national level swimmers, it is often a case to see what type of scholarship are available to them and then to match up the courses they are after. This has proved a very positive process in recent years, with the following pupils having recently continued along this pathway.

Olivia Gardner - Ohio Akron

Ellinor Southward - Missouri Bears

Joel Thompson - LSU

Stephen Taylor - Long Island University

Phoebe Griffiths - Florida State University

Pia Murray - Florida State University

Content Detail and Structure of the SAT Exam

The SAT test takes three hours to finish, plus 50 minutes for the SAT with essay, and scores range from 400 to 1600, combining test results from two 200-to-800-point sections: Mathematics, and Critical Reading & Writing.

The SAT has four sections:

  1. Reading
  2. Writing & Language
  3. Math (no calculator)
  4. Math (calculator allowed).

The test taker may optionally write an essay which, in that case, is the fifth test section. The total time for the scored portion of the SAT is three hours (or three hours and fifty minutes if the optional essay section is taken).

Two section scores result from taking the SAT: Evidence-Based Reading & Writing and Math. Section scores are reported on a scale of 200 to 800, and each section score is a multiple of ten. A total score for the SAT is calculated by adding the two section scores, resulting in total scores that range from 400 to 1600.

There is no penalty for guessing on the SAT: scores are based on the number of questions answered correctly. In addition to the two section scores, three "test" scores on a scale of 10 to 40 are reported, one for each of Reading, Writing and Language, and Math, with increment of 1 for Reading / Writing and Language, and 0.5 for Math. The essay, if taken, is scored separately from the two section scores.

Reading Test

The Reading Test of the SAT contains one section of 52 questions and a time limit of 65 minutes. All questions are multiple-choice and based on reading passages. Tables, graphs, and charts may accompany some passages, but no math is required to correctly answer the corresponding questions. There are five passages (up to two of which may be a pair of smaller passages) on the Reading Test and 10-11 questions per passage or passage pair.

SAT Reading passages draw from three main fields: history, social studies, and science. Each SAT Reading Test always includes: one passage from U.S. or world literature; one passage from either a U.S. founding document or a related text; one passage about economics, psychology, sociology, or another social science; and, two science passages. Answers to all the questions are based only on the content stated in or implied by the passage or passage pair.

Writing and Language Test

The Writing and Language Test of the SAT is made up of one section with 44 multiple-choice questions and a time limit of 35 minutes. As with the Reading Test, all questions are based on reading passages which may be accompanied by tables, graphs, and charts. The test taker will be asked to read the passages, suggest corrections or improvements for the contents underlined. Reading passages on this test range in content from topic arguments to nonfiction narratives in a variety of subjects. The skills being evaluated include: increasing the clarity of argument; improving word choice; improving analysis of topics in social studies and science; changing sentence or word structure to increase organizational quality and impact of writing; and, fixing or improving sentence structure, word usage, and punctuation.


The mathematics portion of the SAT is divided into two sections:

Math Test - Calculator

Math Test - No Calculator

In total, the SAT math test is 80 minutes long and includes 58 questions: 45 multiple choice questions and 13 grid-in questions. The multiple-choice questions have four possible answers; the grid-in questions are free response and require the test taker to provide an answer.

The Math Test - No Calculator section has 20 questions (15 multiple choice and 5 grid-in) and lasts 25 minutes.

The Math Test - Calculator section has 38 questions (30 multiple choice and 8 grid-in) and lasts 55 minutes.

Several scores are provided to the test taker for the math test. A sub score (on a scale of 1 to 15) is reported for each of three categories of math content: "Heart of Algebra" (linear equations, systems of linear equations, and linear functions), "Problem Solving and Data Analysis" (statistics, modelling, and problem-solving skills), and "Passport to Advanced Math" (non-linear expressions, radicals, exponentials and other topics that form the basis of more advanced math). A test score for the math test is reported on a scale of 10 to 40, with an increment of 0.5, and a section score (equal to the test score multiplied by 20) is reported on a scale of 200 to 800.

For more information please visit: SAT: American College Board

To find out more about the SAT pathway please contact Head of Sixth FormDr Tom Gareh