SAT Overview, Structure, and Scoring


The SAT is a standard college entrance exam that measures skills in math, reading, and writing. The first section is always a written essay, which takes 25 minutes, and the last section is always a multiple-choice writing segment, which takes 10 minutes. The other parts of the test - six 25-minute sections and two 20-minute sections - can appear in any order. One of the 25-minute sections (you won't know which) will not count toward your score; it is used to try out questions for future SATs. Total test time is 3 hours and 45 minutes.

The SAT Critical Reading sections present you with reading comprehension questions about full-length and paragraph-length passages. They also include sentence completions.

The SAT Writing sections include multiple-choice questions on grammar, usage, word choice, and organization. The essay section asks you to respond to a prompt by developing a point of view supported by clear, well-organized ideas based on your experience and observations.

The SAT Math sections include multiple-choice questions and grid-in questions, which require you to generate a response. Topics include: numbers and operations; algebra and functions; geometry and measurement; and statistics, probability, and data analysis.

Test Structure

Critical Reading
Question Type Number of Questions
Sentence Completions 19
Passage-Based Reading 48
Time Allotted: Two 25-minute sections; one 20-minute section Total: 70 minutes
Question Type Number of Questions
Identifying Sentence Errors 18
Improving Sentences 25
Improving Paragraphs 6
Essay Writing 1 essay
Time Allotted: Two 25-minute sections; one 10-minute section Total: 60 minutes
Question Type Number of Questions
Multiple-Choice 44
Grid-Ins 10
Time Allotted: Two 25-minute sections; one 20-minute section Total: 70 minutes


Each section (Critical Reading, Writing, and Math) is scored on a scale of 200 to 800. Essays, a sub-section of Writing, are graded on a scale of 2 to 12.

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