SAT, stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test, now simply the SAT®, is an internationally acclaimed entrance exam administered for selecting candidates for undergraduate courses in the US and other countries. The test is intended to assess students' readiness for college. The SAT is designed to be aligned with high school curricula, as the questions reflect more closely what students learn in high school.

The SAT is comprised of two sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math. The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing is comprised of two tests, one focused on Reading and one focused on Writing and Language. The Math section is comprised of a single test with two components - a no-calculator portion and a calculator-allowed portion. The SAT also includes an optional Essay. Some schools may require the Essay, so be sure to ask before you take the SAT.


SAT is a pencil-paper based test that assesses a candidate’s skills and knowledge of the education received in high school. The exam consists of two major section – Evidence based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and Math. They are further divided into two sections each.

SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

Reading Test

  • 52 multiple choice questions in 5 passages to be attempted in 65 minutes
  • One literary passage from American or International work of fiction like short stories or novels
  • One passage or a pair of passages from U.S. founding documents or Great Global Conversation on topics like freedom, justice and human dignity
  • A selection of passages on economics, psychology, sociology, etc.
  • Two passages from work of science
  • Students are required to read the passage and answer the question by telling a story or making an argument or explaining a study or experiment

Types of Questions

Questions of this section are divided into three categories:

  • Information and Ideas - Questions focusing on the main idea of the passage, directly or indirectly
  •  Rhetoric - Questions asking about the meaning , style or tone conveyed by the author
  • Synthesis - Questions asking to draw conclusions and make connections between two passages or between passages and informational graphs like tables, graphs, and charts, accompany some passages

Writing and Language Test

  • 44 multiple choice questions in 4 passages to be attempted in 35 minutes
  • Requires students to revise and edit passages
  • Topics explored are career, science, humanities, history and social science
  • Passage writing modes are narrative, argumentative and informative/explanatory
  • At least one passage on each of the above writing modes is present

Types of Questions

Questions asked are from the following two categories:

  • Expression of Idea - Improve the structure, organization and how the idea is being articulated in the passage as well as the overall effectiveness of language  
  • Standard English Conventions - Reorganize and fix errors in sentence structure, grammar, usage and punctuation

SAT Mathematics
  • Comprised of two sub parts - math with calculator and math without calculator
  • 58 questions to be attempted in 80 minutes
  • 80% questions are multiple choice while 20% are grid ins
  • Math with calculator has 30 multiple choice questions and 8 grid in questions
  • Grid in questions require students to enter the derived answers in the grids provided in the bubble sheet as shown below:

SAT Grid-in questions

  • Math without calculator has 15 multiple choice questions and 5 grid in questions
  • A set of formula and references are provided at the beginning of the test
  • The section is given specific attention for students going for science, technology, engineering or math
  • Questions are framed in real life settings on topics from science, social science, and career contexts.

Type of Questions

Math sections comprise of questions categories into three different areas of math:

  • Heart of Algebra - create, manipulate and solve algebraic equations like linear equations and systems
  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis - interpret graphs and table and solve problems in real world situations using ratios, percentages and proportional reasoning 
  • Passport to Advance Math - Work on, manipulate and solve complex mathematics equations and function

Majorly comprised of questions from the above topics, the sections also have questions from additional topics in math which includes –

  • Area and Volume
  • Coordinate Geometry
  • Basic Trigonometry

SAT Essay
  • Essay is optional but is required by most colleges to get a deeper insight into a student’s personality and his/her thought process
  • You must pay charges additional to basic SAT registration fee to take the Essay section
  • Students are required to write an essay on the topic given based on a passage within 50 minutes
  • Students must consider and explain how the author evidence, reasoning and styling elements to make the passage convincing in their essays
  • Three separate scores on a range of 2-8 is given
  • The essay sections helps students assess their skills in –
    • Reading - how well a student could comprehend the passage
    • Analysis - how well a student analyzed the author’s argument in the passage
    • Writing - how well a student could structure his/her response

Types of Questions

The passage for essay in every SAT may vary, however, all the passages consist of the following points:

  • Written for a broad audience
  • Argue a point
  • Express subtle views on complex subjects
  • Use logical reasoning and evidence to support claims
  • Examine ideas, debates, or trends in the arts and sciences, or civic, cultural, or political life
  • Always taken from published works

The SAT has four sections, as well an optional essay. The first section will be Reading, followed by Writing and Language, then the no calculator section of Math, followed by the Math section you're allowed a calculator on. If you decide to take the SAT essay, it'll be the final section of the exam. Most SAT questions are multiple choice, but five questions on Math No Calculator and eight questions on Math Calculator will be grid-ins.
When you take the SAT, you’ll get a 5-minute break after about every hour of testing. That means you’ll get a break after the Reading section and a second one after the Math No Calculator. If you’re taking the Essay section, you’ll also get a break before starting. The total time of the SAT is 3 hours if you don't take the essay, and 3 hours and 50 minutes if you do take the essay.
The following chart breaks down the format of the test.

Order Section Time in Minutes # of Questions Time per question
1 Reading 65 52 75 seconds
2 Writing and Language 35 44 48 seconds
3 Math No Calculator 25 20 75 seconds
4 Math Calculator 55 38 77 seconds
5 Essay (optional) 50 1  
  Total: 3 hours, 50 minutes (3 hours without essay) 154 (+1 essay prompt)  

When you take the SAT, you'll be given a total score between 400 and 1600. The SAT has two major sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (combined from Reading + Writing and Language), and Math. You can earn a scaled score of between 200 and 800 points on each section. But where does the scoring scale come from?
You start with a raw score for each topic area. Your raw score is simply the number of questions you answered correctly; skipped or wrong questions do not add or subtract from your raw score.That number is then converted into a scaled score through a process called equating — the College Board is a bit cagey about how exactly this works, but it's based on years worth of data rather than how people do on a specific test date.
The average SAT score is 1068, with some variation from year to year, but what counts as a good score for you will really depend on where you’re looking to apply. To get into a top-tier school you'll likely need to score about 1500 or higher, but for the local branch of the state university you might be just fine with a 1050.

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