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Document Deep Dive: What Was on the First SAT?

Explore the exam that has been stressing out college-bound high school students since 1926

Taking the SAT is a rite of passage and has been ever since the first exam was offered in 1926 as a way to eliminate the prep school bias of the college admissions process.

The very first SAT, excerpted below, looks quite different from today’s three-hour-45-minute version. Students who took the original SAT on June 23, 1926, tackled nine sub-tests totaling 315 questions in just 97 minutes.

I recently spoke with Brian O’Reilly, a 31-year veteran of the College Board, about the 1926 exam. How well would you fare? Quiz yourself, and as you do, click on the yellow tabs, within the document, to learn more about the various types of questions.

UPDATE: On March 5, 2014, the College Board announced that it would change the SAT for the second time in nine years, removing the essay component and introducing other changes to make the test more accessible to students of all backgrounds.

(Homepage billboard photo by Alberto G.)

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