Important Things to Know About SAT in 2024


Every year nearly 2 million students take the SAT exam, which is used for college admissions in the US universities and other countries abroad. There is no such thing called SAT eligibility criteria. Typically taken by grade 11 and 12 students, the SAT is aimed at assessing the college readiness of the test takers.

Let us first look at how the SAT is structured. The digital SAT has 2 sections, Reading & Writing and Math. The complete duration of the test is 2 hours and 14 minutes. The Reading & Writing section is to be completed in 64 minutes and the Math section is to be completed in 70 minutes.

Each section will be divided into 2 different modules. This means that the Reading and Writing section will have 2 modules and the Math section will have 2 modules. You will be given a 10-minute break after the Reading and Writing section before you move on to attempting the math section.

The first module of each of the Quant and Verbal sections will have a right mix of easy, medium, and difficult questions. Depending on performance in the first module, the questions in the second module will be of a higher order of difficulty or lower order of difficulty. So this makes it very important for all the test takers to make sure that they do the first module of each section well to be able to get a great score.

The table below gives you format and structure of the test.

Component Time Allotted (minutes) Number of Questions
Reading and Writing 64(two 32-minute modules) 54(27 questions in each module)
Math 70(two 35-minute modules) 44(22 questions in each module)
Total 134 98

Most of the questions are multiple-choice questions, but in the math section, there are some questions where the student will have to enter the responses in the spaces provided.

On the SAT, there is no negative marking for wrong answers. Thus it is advised to guess and submit a response rather than leaving a question unanswered. 

The Reading and Writing section

reading and writing in SAT


This section has shorter Reading passages followed by single multiple-choice questions. The questions in the Reading and Writing section will cover the following content domains. Craft and Structure, Information and Ideas, Standard English Conventions, and Expression of Ideas. On the SAT, the questions that test similar skills and knowledge will be grouped and arranged in order of difficulty from easy to hard.

The passages in this section will comprise 25 to 150 words and will cover subjects in the areas of literature, history, social science, and humanities. The 2 modules of the reading and writing section, will cover questions across all four content domains.

 What do the four content domains test?

Information and Ideas:

This domain measures the comprehension skills, analyzing, and reasoning skills of the test taker. It also tests the ability of the test taker to locate, interpret, evaluate, and also integrate ideas from tables and graphs.

Craft and Structure:

This domain checks the vocabulary skills and the ability of the test taker to use high-utility words and phrases in the context of the text given.

Expression of Ideas:

This domain measures the ability of the test taker to be able to modify and rewrite text effectively and address the given specific rhetorical goals

Standard English Convention:

This domain measures the ability of the test taker to be able to edit a given sentence adhering to the Standard English sentence structure, usage, and punctuation. 

Reading and Writing Section Content and distribution of questions:

Content Domain Number of Questions
Craft and Structure 13 – 15
Information and Ideas 12 – 14
Standard English Conventions 11 – 15
Expression of Ideas 8 – 12


The Math section:

This section of the SAT tests the four main topics: Algebra, Advanced math, Problem-solving and Data analysis, and Geometry & Trigonometry Like the reading and writing section, the math section is also divided into two modules and the difficulty level of the second module depends on the responses provided by the test taker in the first module.

About 30% of the math questions would be word problems and cover subjects such as science, social studies, or real-world scenarios.

Questions from all four categories will be distributed across both modules.

The table below gives the approximate number of questions we would get to see across the 4 domains.

Type of Math Number of Questions
Algebra 13 – 15
Advanced Math 13 – 15
Problem-solving and Data Analysis 5 – 7
Geometry and Trigonometry 5 – 7

What would be the type of math tested?

type of math tested in SAT


The following topics would be tested under Algebra:

Linear equations in 1 and 2 variables, linear functions, Systems of 2 linear equations in 2 variables, and linear inequalities in 1 or 2 variables.

 Advanced Math:

The following topics would be tested under Advanced Math:

Equivalent expressions, Non-linear equations in 1 variable,

Systems of equations in 2 variables, and Non-linear functions.

 Problem-solving and Data Analysis:

The following topics would be tested under this domain:

Ratios, rates, proportions, Percentages, distributions and measures of center and spread, scatterplots, Probability, Inference from sample statistics, margin of error, evaluating observational studies and experiments

 Geometry and Trigonometry:

Problems that focus on the following are tested in this section:

Area and volume, lines, angles and triangles, Right triangles and trigonometry and circles

Use of Calculator:

The SAT allows you to use the calculator throughout the Math section of the exam, but it is important to know when and how to use it. There are questions in the math section where you should avoid using the calculator to be able to use your time effectively.

 Student-produced responses:

About 25% of the questions in the math section would require students to give in the responses in the space provided. This assesses the ability to solve the given problem with less support and solve them independently. In some cases, the student-produced responses may have more than one correct answer.

What are the SAT scores and how they are calculated:

The total score on the SAT is 400 to 1600. This would be a sum of the two sections of reading and writing & math.

The reading and writing section scores would be from 200 to 800 and for math it would be from 200 to 800.

The scores on each section are based on the performance across all the modules in the test. If the difficulty level of the questions in module 2 of each section is higher, then the score you would get would be higher. Whereas if you are routed to a lower order of difficulty level of questions then you can expect to get a lower score overall.

The section scores range from 200 to 800 across a 10-point interval and the overall score would also be in a 10-point interval range.

SAT essay:

The essay on the SAT has been discontinued. However, the SAT essay seems to be for certain US school day SATs where that US state school system requires the SAT essay.

Finally, let’s look at the percentile scores. The table below gives the percentile score on the Digital SAT. Students can set themselves a target score depending on the targeted universities.

Percentile Score Total Score RW Score Math Score
99th 1520-1600 760-800 790-800
98th 1510-1490 740-750 780
97th 1480-1460 730 770
96th 1440-1450 720 750-760
95th 1430-1420 710 740
90th 1350 670 690
85th 1240 650 660
80th 1190 630 630
60th 1060 560 550
50th 1010 530 520
40th 960 500 490

According to this table, as long as you score 1520 and above, you are in the top one percent. But like what we saw earlier, the university/college is the decision authority when it comes to deciding whether your score is good enough.

Most of the students tend to score closer to the middle than to the extremes of the scale. For instance, by improving your from 1010 to 1060, your percentile ranking jumps by 10 points. But an increase from 1460 to 1510 would mean just one point improvement on the percentile scale.

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Are calculators allowed in both modules of the SAT Math section?

Yes, the students may bring their own College Board accepted graphing calculator or use the inbuilt Desmos onscreen graphing calculator in the College Board’s Blue Book App through which they’ll have to take the test

What kind of devices are allowed to take the SAT?

Windows Laptop or tablet, Mac laptop or iPad.

Can students request College Board a device to take the SAT?

While registering for the test, students can mention that they would require a device from the College Board. If the student is using his own device, he will have to mention the type of device he intends to use. There will be a set of questions that they need to answer to check eligibility and ensure that the center has the right information to provide the device.

What is the timeline to register for a device?

Students should register at least 30 days in advance if they want to request a device for the test.

How many times in a year SAT is administered in India?

The SAT test is administered 7 times in a calendar year. Namely, March, May, June, August, October, November & December. The SAT exam registration deadline is usually 15 to 16 days before the actual exam date.

What type of tools are available on the Digital SAT?

Mark for Review and Strike through tools are available.

Where can I access SAT sample papers?

The practice tests can be accessed through College Board website.

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