How the SAT Works? Format Breakdown and Function of the SAT

The SAT is a standardized test that is used widely in the college admission process in universities across the United States of America. The SAT scores are extremely critical for colleges when the admissions officials are looking at student applications. The SAT measures a student’s Critical Reading, Writing, and Mathematics skills. The SAT is meant to test what the student has learned in high school, and hence evaluates their readiness for college courses.

Reading, Writing, and Mathematics are the three subjects that make up the SAT along with an optional essay section.

Sectional breakdown of SAT Exam

  1. Reading section:
    The Reading section of the SAT includes passages to test the vocabulary in context, detail, function, inference, analogy, author’s technique, and the main idea. The student is given 65 minutes to answer 52 multiple-choice questions based on five passages.
  2. Writing & Language section:
    The Writing & Language section of the SAT usually has four short passages and the questions asked are based on choosing the options with correct grammar usage, punctuation, and sentence structure. The student is given 35 minutes to answer the 44 multiple-choice questions in this section.
  3. Mathematics section:
    The Mathematics section of the SAT has questions on algebra, problem-solving & data analysis, geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus in roughly increasing the order of difficulty. This 80-minute section is divided into two parts. In the first section, students have to answer 15 multiple choice and 5 grid-in questions in 25-minutes and are not allowed to use a calculator. In the next section, in which use of a calculator is permitted, students must respond to 30 multiple choice questions and 8 grid-in questions which in 55-minutes.
  4. Essay section (Optional):
    The SAT essay gauges the student’s ability to analyze the author’s argument, using evidence and examples from the passage. The student is not expected to take a stand or agree or disagree with what the author is trying to convey. Although this section of the SAT exam is optional, a few colleges require their applicants to write this essay. By attempting this section, the students can highlight their writing skills, and the ability to organize their thoughts and ideas in a cohesive manner.
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