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An Overview of the SAT Structure

An Overview of the SAT Structure:

The SAT is a standardized test that measures your skills for Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. Many colleges and universities in the United States ask for the SAT score from the students studying in class 11th and 12th. It is a college entrance exam having four sections, Reading, Writing & Language, Math and the Essay (which is now optional but would suggest you to take, as some colleges may ask for it).

Let’s have a better understanding of each section below.

Evidence Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) READING 52 65 minutes 200 to 800
WRITING & LANGUAGE 44 35 minutes

(No Calculator)

20 25 minutes 200 to 800

(Yes Calculator )

38 55 minutes
Essay  Optional 1 50 minutes 2 to 8
Total 4

(5 with Essay)


( 155 with Essay)


( 230 with essay)

400 to 1600

(excluding Essay)

Order of the sections:

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) Section:

  • EBRW section has 109 questions to answer in 100 minutes which is divided into two tests – The Reading test and the Writing & Language test.
  • The section score of Evidence-Based Reading and Writing comprises of the reading test and the writing test and the score ranges from 200 to 800.
  • The score report will also have Reading test score and Writing & Language test score as test scores range from 10 to 40.
  • This section will also have sub-scores for command of Evidence, Words in Context, Expression of ideas and Standard English Conventions each range from 1 to 15.
  • All the questions in Evidence-based reading and writing are passage-based and are multiple-choice questions.

The Reading test:

  • This is the first and longest test in the SAT – 52 questions in 65 minutes.
  • There will be 5 passages and each passage will be followed by a series of multiple-choice questions.
  • A few passages may have a graph or a chart related to the content in the passage.
  • The passages will be from previously published works in the area of world literature, history/social studies, and Science.
  • The main goal of reading test is to measure student’s ability to understand words in context and find and analyze evidence.

The Writing and Language Section:

  • This is the second test in the SAT – 44 questions in 35 minutes.
  • There will have 4 passages and each passage will be followed by 11 multiple-choice questions.
  • Graphs and charts are incorporated in the writing section too with at least two passages including a pictorial representation of the textual content.
  • The questions are formulated in a way that they test the grammar, usage, rhetoric, and style of the English language

 Math Section:

  • This section has 58 questions to answer in 80 minutes which is divided into two sections – Math No-Calculator and Math Yes Calculator.
  • Math section score comprises of these two tests and the score ranges from 200 to 800.
  • There will be a test score for Math section from 10 to 40 and sub-scores for Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis and Passport to Advanced Math each score range from 1 to 15.
  • While most of the questions in math section are multiple-choice questions, there is also a handful of student-produced response questions called as Grid In questions.
  • The four main areas tested in math section are Heart of algebra, Problem Solving, and Data Analysis, Passport to Advanced Math and Additional Topics in Math.
  • Additional math topics included Geometry, Trigonometry, and Complex Numbers.

Math No-Calculator Section: 

  • Apparently, the test-taker is not allowed to use a calculator in this 25-minute long section which embodies a set of 20 questions.
  • Out of 20 questions, 15 are multiple choice questions and 5 are Grid In questions.
  • This section has questions from all the four main areas except the problem solving and data analysis.

Math with Calculator Section:

  • The test-taker is allowed to use the calculator in this section which is much longer than the no-calculator section and spans over 55 minutes.
  • Of the 38 questions, 30 questions are multiple-choice and the remaining 8 are the grid-in types.
  • The student has to bring the calculator; scientific calculators and some graphing calculators are allowed for this section; a calculator in the mobile is not allowed.
  • Though calculator is allowed, not all the questions in this section need a calculator.

Essay Section:

  • A 50-minute long section, the Essay section is optional.
  • The task requires the test-takers to read and understand a commentary or speech and evaluate the language, reasoning, and rhetoric exercised by the author.
  • The response has to be an analytic evaluation of the given text.
  • The Essay will be graded by two readers in three areas: Reading, Writing, and Analysis on a 2 to 8 point scale for each of the three areas.

Scores and Score Cards

You can see a sample scorecard in below link.