SAT Experimental Section

As a fanatic, I know that the SAT did not achieve eminence by accident. One reason that stands out for it to enjoy such enduring dominance in college entrance exams for almost a century must be its Experimental Section. It’s such a shame though that even in the US, it is perhaps the least valued, nor understood, feature of the test. In faraway Penang SAT Experimental Section is just plain obscure.


Intrinsically, the SAT Experimental Section is a background item. It is there but to test new questions for ETS (Educational Testing Service) before being included in upcoming SAT’s and does not count toward the score. Gurus say there’s no way to identify the Experimental because it smells just like a normal section and can show up anywhere on the exam. As such, we should treat every section as if it counts, score-wise.

I have my own take on that, a Guru I’m not, notwithstanding. Yes, it could be Reading, Writing or Math but no, it would never be Section 1, 8, 9, or 10. As I see it, the Experimental is always a 25-minute section. Although Section 1 is indeed 25-minute long, it is uniquely Essay, confirmed! Sections 8 and 9 are fixed 20-minute Reading and Math sections albeit possibly in either order, and Section 10 is definitively a 10-minute Writing Sentence Improvement session.

Okay, we still can’t tell within Section 2 through 7 which is the Experimental and here I concede to the Gurus to treat every one of the sections as if it is scored. But then again, I would attend it just as earnestly even if I knew which was the Experimental, and with a smile on my face too, for the sake of SAT. We benefit from folks before us; we reciprocate for those on the path behind.

Heck, I’m not even sure if the SAT Experimental Section is existentially legal. After all, folks sign up to take a test, not to provide field information as inputs to design a test. But I don’t care – it’s a good thing.

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