Sat October 2012 Essay

In this article, I'll tell you where to find all official, printable SAT practice tests and answer keys. This comprehensive guide gives you access to more SAT practice tests than any other online guide. In addition, you'll learn key strategies that'll help you make big improvements on SAT practice tests you can print out.


Free Printable SAT Tests (New 1600 Format)

Currently, there are eight available practice tests for the redesigned SAT, all of which have been provided by the maker of the SAT itself, the College Board. These tests are the absolute best ones to use for your SAT studies since they're the most similar to the test.


Practice Test 1: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay

Practice Test 2: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay

Practice Test 3: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay 

Practice Test 4: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay

Practice Test 5: Questions | Answers |Answer Explanations | Essay

Practice Test 6: Questions | Answers |Answer Explanations | Essay

Practice Test 7: Questions | Answers |Answer Explanations | Essay

Practice Test 8: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay


Don't forget to fill in your answers with the SAT answer sheet.


Disappointed with your scores? Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We've written a guide about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:


Free Printable SAT Tests (Old 2400 Format, 2005-2016)

These next tests follow the old 2400 format of the SAT, with separate Reading, Math, and Writing sections. (By contrast, on the current SAT, your Reading and Writing scores are combined for a total Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score.)

Despite their somewhat out-of-date structure, these tests can be useful for your studying. Just keep in mind all of the major differences between the old and current SAT. I recommend using these tests more as training sessions than as full-on practice for the SAT.


Official SAT Printable Practice Test 2013-14: Questions | Answers

Official SAT Printable Practice Test 2012-13: Questions | Answers

Official SAT Printable Practice Test 2007-08: Questions | Answers

Official SAT Printable Practice Test 2004-05: Questions | Answers


It might look as though I've skipped a few years here, but I actually haven't: all of the tests for the years not listed are repeats of those above, including the 2011-12, 2010-11, 2009-10, 2008-09, 2006-07, and 2005-06 practice tests. So if you find these tests on other forums or websites, don't waste your time taking them since they're the exact same as the ones already listed.


We're going way back into the past for this next set of SAT tests.


Free Printable SAT Tests (Very Old 1600 Format, Pre-2005)

Before the SAT underwent a redesign in 2016, the last time it had changed was in 2005, back when it jumped from a 1600-point scale to a 2400-point scale.

Despite this massive shift in scoring, only a few major differences could be found between the very old 1600 SAT and the old 2400 SAT. Other than those, most of the test remained the same.

As a result, these very old SAT practice tests are a hidden gold mine that few students know of. By taking these tests, then, you'll have that much more of an edge over other test takers.

Before I give you the links, though, note a few important caveats:

  • You can skip the analogies questions on Reading. These are the questions that look like "CAR : ENGINE ::." Since they're no longer on the SAT, there's no point in studying them.
  • You can skip the comparison questions on Math. This question type presents two boxes and asks you to decide whether A or B is greater. Again, these won't be on the new SAT, so you don't need to worry about these.
  • There is no Writing section on these tests, so make sure you use supplementary prep materials to study the grammar and question types you'll need to know for the new SAT's Writing and Language section.

Be grateful you don't need to answer some of these old-format questions—analogies were the primary reason that the SAT had a bad reputation for forcing students to memorize vocab!


Official SAT Test 2004-05: Questions | Answers

Official SAT Test 2003-04: Questions | Answers

Official SAT Test 2002: Questions + Answers

Official SAT Test 2001: Questions + Answers



6 Tips for Getting the Most Out Of SAT Practice Tests

Each SAT practice test requires around four hours of intense focus, so it's important you try to get the most out of them. Below are six critical strategies to follow each time you take a practice test.


#1: Print Out the Test and Take It on Paper

Because the SAT is a paper test (as opposed to a computer test), it's best to take the practice tests on paper.

Also, make sure you do your scratch work directly on the test. Don't get out separate pieces of scratch paper to use since on the actual test you won't get any scratch paper (but will be allowed to take notes directly in your test booklet).

Finally, if you're taking the optional Essay section, practice writing your essay using the lined paper included with your practice test.


#2: Use Strict Timing on Each Section

Although time pressure can be intimidating, it's important to follow official SAT time limits as closely as possible on practice tests.

Why? If, for example, you spend just two extra minutes on a section, this could raise your score by hundreds of points, as the extra time allowed you to answer more questions than you would've been able to within the official time limit. As a result, your practice SAT score becomes inflated and doesn't give you an accurate indicator of your actual scoring ability.

Here's an overview of the official time limits for each SAT section as well as how long you should spend (roughly) per question:

SAT SectionTime per SectionTime per Question
Reading65 minutes75 seconds
Writing and Language35 minutes48 seconds
Math No Calculator25 minutes75 seconds
Math Calculator55 minutes77 seconds


Make sure to give yourself breaks, too!


#3: Take the Test in One Sitting

The SAT is a marathon of a test, lasing around four hours on an early Saturday morning. Many of my students have told me how difficult it was to stay focused the entire time and keep themselves from making careless mistakes at the end.

Preparing for the SAT is like training for a marathon: you need to ensure you have enough stamina to make it through the test. And the best way to do this is to take each practice test in one sitting, as if you were taking the actual SAT.

If it's too difficult for you to find the time to take a practice test in one sitting, go ahead and split it up over several days—just make sure you adhere to the time limits for each section. Ultimately, it's better to do some SAT practice than none at all!



#4: Review Your Mistakes (and Your Correct Answers, Too)

Practice tests aren't just good for getting to know the SAT format and sections—they're also great for learning from your mistakes.

For every practice SAT test you take, spend time reviewing both questions you got wrong and questions you got right. If you don't know why you missed a question, don't just skip it and move on; doing this means you won't learn what kind of mistake you made, raising your risk of making it over and over again. This habit can hamper your score pretty drastically.

So make sure to approach your SAT prep with this in mind: quality over quantity. I'd rather have you take three practice tests with detailed review than six practice tests with no review.


#5: Take At Least 4 Practice Tests Before the Actual SAT

From my experience with thousands of students, this magic number works best at getting students really comfortable with the SAT in all major respects, including timing and endurance. 

If you want to take more than four tests, go ahead and try it out—just make sure that you balance your prep with some focused studying on your weaknesses so that you can ultimately make faster progress.


#6: Use Supplemental Resources If Necessary

Some students are great at learning the ins and outs of the SAT through practice tests alone—they recognize their mistakes, understand why they made them, and avoid making them in the future.

But most students need additional help to pinpoint their weaknesses and teach them the skills and strategies needed for success on the SAT. If practice tests aren't enough for you, download our free guide to help you figure out which SAT prep method works best for you.


What's Next?

Want to get a perfect SAT score? Take a look at our famous guide to a 1600, written by an expert 2400 SAT scorer.

Aiming high on each SAT section? Then read our individual, in-depth strategy guides to help you reach an 800 on SAT Reading, SAT Math, and SAT Writing.


Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We have the industry's leading SAT prep program. Built by Harvard grads and SAT full scorers, the program learns your strengths and weaknesses through advanced statistics, then customizes your prep program to you so you get the most effective prep possible.

Check out our 5-day free trial today:

Writer’s block? Happens to the best of us. Image credit:

College Board has recently released the SAT essay prompts from the October 2012 administration of the SAT. If you would like to see the full text of the essay prompts, including the “context paragraph,” the assignment question, and the instructions, visit the official College Board page with the prompts. Please note that College Board generally replaces the content of that page with the most recent essay prompts, so in a few weeks the content of that page will contain the essay prompts from the November SAT test. So here’s the gist of those topics for posterity:

  • SAT Essay Prompt #1: A question about caring about people from one’s own country vs. caring about people from other countries.
  • SAT Essay Prompt #2: Do high achievements help all or only the achiever? (This is the prompt that TestMagic students wrote on.)
  • SAT Essay Prompt #3: The value of past vs. that of the present.
  • SAT Essay Prompt #4: The value of creativity.
Discussion of the SAT Essay prompts: Ingroup vs. outgroup

This question is a classic example of the type of question whose response will differ depending on how the question is posed. For example, compare two different ways of asking a similar question:

  • “Are people from your own country more important than people from other countries?”
  • “Should people help people in their own countries before they help people from other countries?”

Depending on how the question is asked, people will probably give different responses. For the SAT, it is important not to get caught in this trap and realize that any reasonable response is acceptable. (To the credit of College Board, the SAT essay prompts are written to reduce the chance that test-takers are led to respond in a certain way.)

There are many ways that a writer could address this essay topic. The writer could easily argue that all people are equal, and those who are in the greatest need should receive help, no matter what country they are from. A good example could be any number of international charities, such as Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, and CARE, that allocate funds according to need, not location. However, the writer could also easily argue that the people in one’s own country should take priority over those from other countries, the argument being that people from one’s own country represent a kind of home, and people have greater responsibility to their “family members” than they do to those outside of their own “family”. Some examples to use could be such natural disasters as earthquakes (the Sichuan, China earthquake of 2008) and floods (e.g., Hurricane Katrina), world hunger, lack of medicine and health care, and the like.

Discussion of the SAT Essay prompts: The effect of high achievers

Again, depending on how this is worded, writers could be pointed in different directions. If test-takers are asked about highly successful people, they might write that almost all success is good. If, however, the prompt mentions “high achievers” (as it did), writers might see some of the negative aspects of people who are extremely successful. As always, writers have multiple (if not countless) ways to interpret the prompt and could write about humanitarians, Nobel laureates, successful businesspeople, politicians, and the like. To score high, should try to dig deep into the topic and discuss whether success is always fair. For example, is it generally true that the best people tend to get ahead? Or do more aggressive  less ethical people tend to have the highest achievements? Writers could also discuss whether the ends justify the means–for example, if someone is very successful at the expense of ethics, is his success still deserving of respect? Possible examples: Bill Gates (a ruthless businessman who donates a huge portion of his wealth charity) and Lance Armstrong (American bicyclist who allegedly used drugs to improve his performance).

Note: This prompt shares some similarities with another common prompt, the one that asks whether public figures and other role models have a greater responsibility to comport themselves morally and ethically.

Discussion of the SAT Essay prompts: Past vs. present

The SAT has asked many times in the past about the importance of the past and of history, so test-takers should be at least a bit familiar with the question of whether it’s important to learn from the past. Be careful not to interpret this particular prompt solely to mean history in the sense of  History with a capital H. This prompt, especially the way it was worded in October (“why waste time dwelling on what has already happened”) could refer to any past event, even something as mundane as burning your morning toast.

We’ve all heard George Santayana’s quote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, which could work well in this essay if you choose to argue that the past is important to learn about or learn from. And if you choose to discuss history, Mark Twain’s lesser known quote “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme” might fit in somewhere as well.

Obviously it is important to study history and learn from the past. So why does this prompt appear? Well, it’s also sometimes important to forget the past. More specifically, it’s important to let go of past grievances and avoid the myopic navel-gazing that can result from fixating on past successes or wrongs committed by others against you or your nation. And as the prompt hints at, yes, the past is not changeable (at least according to the currently-accepted laws of physics).

So, if I were writing on this prompt, I would say that the past is valuable when we can learn from mistakes, but at other times, we should move on, leave the past behind, and not dwell on that which we cannot change. For this particular prompt, I would personally want to write about the U.S.’s current position in world politics and write that many Americans have become complacent about our past successes, but we need to see that the world is changing very quickly and need to adopt more modern policies.

Discussion of the SAT Essay prompts: Creativity

Ah, the “creativity” prompt. Who would ever argue that creativity is not important? Well, it’s conceivable that in some situations or professions, creativity is not important, believe it or not. Soldiers, for example, are trained to follow orders blindly, to walk straight into enemy fire simply because they were told to do so. Some workers are also expected not to think creatively, but rather to strictly adhere to procedures. And many unethical leaders know that it’s easiest to control people when they lack the ability to think independently.

This prompt, however, seems to define creativity rather narrowly (“Political leaders are not usually considered to be very creative”), suggesting that creativity should be interpreted as breaking with tradition. This interpretation is entirely possible, but again, it would still be difficult (but not impossible) to argue that no one needs to be creative.

What would I write about? I like writing, reading, and most things artistic, so I would wholeheartedly recommend creativity for all people, from the youngest to the oldest, no matter their profession or situation in life. I would further argue that even in professions in which creativity is not generally considered necessary or desirable, it is can still be important sometimes. There are myriad examples of what to write about, but off the top of my head, I’d suggest perhaps writing that leaders today need creative solutions to complex, modern problems (did that sound like an ad? Phew.).

In conclusion…

If this article was helpful, please let me know by commenting, “liking”, etc. We teachers write articles like this to help people, for that once-a-year thank-you from students, and from feedback. (All people love compliments. It’s true.) Even a simple question would be welcome. :)


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