Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
  • Stanford University
  • Princeton University

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    International Office Director

The Dreaded SAT Experimental Section

Videos   Strategies   SAT   ePrep
Karl Schellscheidt -

free sat test video Every SAT test includes one 25-minute “experimental” section where the College Board tests new questions and material. It could be a math, reading or verbal section. The trouble is that you will not know which section is “experimental”, so you’re better off treating EVERY question like it counts!

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The Dreaded SAT Experimental Section (transcript)

Officially the dreaded SAT experimental section is called the variable section. The first section is going to have essays that are 25 minutes long. The essay will then be followed by another six 25 minute sections. There are then two 20 minute sections and one 10 minute section.

One of those multiple choice 25 minute sections is going to be an experimental one. The people who administer the SAT need to test questions for future exams. This is to see if enough people get them right and/or wrong. So they use you as guinea pigs!

Since one of those sections is going to be experimental, it does not count toward your grade. It’s very difficult to pick out the experimental section, but I’ll give you a little bit of a tip:

If you get to a section that seems really weird or has questions that you haven’t seen before and it’s somehow different from the rest, it’s probably the experimental one. Don’t panic. Stay positive. Just tell yourself it’s the experimental one and move on.

Now, if you get three 25 minute critical reading sections, one of them will have been the experimental one. If you get three 25 minute math sections, one of them will be the experimental one. And if you get two 25 minute writing sections, you’ll know one of those will be the experimental section.

So it’s kind of hard to tell which one it is until you’re almost finished, but if you get to one that’s weird and totally throws you off, don’t think “Oh my gosh, the whole thing’s going down the tube now!” Tell yourself “You know what, that one was weird, that one was harder than I expected. It’s probably the experimental one”. Stay positive. Keep moving. That’s the way you maximize your SAT score.

Karl Schellscheidt

Copyright 2006 — All Rights Reserved, ePrep, Inc.

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