An Overview of the SAT Structure

SAT Structure


An Overview of the SAT Structure:

The SAT is a standardized test that is needed to apply to undergrad programs abroad. The SAT exam pattern serves as both a measure of students’ college readiness and as a valid and reliable predictor of college outcomes. It is a college entrance exam having four tests, Reading, Writing & Language, Math and the Essay (which is optional but some colleges may ask for an Essay score also).

Let’s have a better understanding of the pattern of the test. The composite SAT score ranges from 400 – 1600 and is a sum of the Evidence-based Reading & Writing score (200-800) and the Math score (200-800). The total duration of the test if you choose to attempt the Essay section is 4 hours, 5 minutes (with breaks).

SAT Structure:

Section Questions Duration Score Range
SAT Reading 52 multiple-choice questions 65 minutes Evidence-based Reading & Writing score

200 to 800

Break 10 minutes
SAT Writing & Language 44 multiple-choice questions 35 minutes
No Calculator – Math 20 (15 multiple-choice and 5 Grid in questions) 25 minutes Math score

200 to 800

Break 5 minutes
Yes Calculator – Math 38 (30 multiple-choice and 8 Grid in questions) 55 minutes
Break 2 minutes
SAT Essay (Optional) 1 prompt 50 minutes Reading 2 to 8

Analysis 2 to 8

Writing 2 to 8

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Order of the Sections:

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section:

  • The Evidence-Based SAT Reading and SAT Writing section has 96 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 is calculated from the reading test and the writing test scores. The EBRW section score ranges from 200 to 800.

    SAT Reading Test:

    • SAT reading 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 the reading test is to measure a student’s ability to understand words in context and find and analyze evidence.

    SAT Writing and Language Test:

    • SAT Writing and Language Test is the second test in the SAT – 44 questions in 35 minutes.
    • This test has 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 having 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.


SAT Math Section:

  • SAT Math section has 58 questions to be answered in 80 minutes which is divided into two parts – Math No-Calculator and Math Yes-Calculator.
  • Math section score is calculated from these two tests and the score ranges from 200 to 800.
  • While most of the questions in the math section are multiple-choice questions, there is also a handful of Grid In questions where students need to enter their own answers.
  • The four main areas tested in the 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:

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

    Math with Calculator Section:

    • The test-taker is allowed to use a calculator to answer the 38 questions in this 55 minute section.
    • Of the 38 questions, 30 questions are multiple-choice and the remaining 8 are Grid-in questions.
    • The student has to bring a calculator; scientific calculators and some graphing calculators are allowed for this section; a calculator in the mobile is not allowed.
    • Though a calculator is allowed, not all the questions in this section need a calculator.


SAT Essay Section:

  • SAT essay section is optional and students have 50-minutes to write the essay.
  • 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 score will be presented as three area scores for Reading, Writing, and Analysis, each ranging from 2 to 8.

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What is the mode of SAT examination?

The SAT is a paper-pencil test. The students are supposed to bubble in their answers in a Scantron sheet provided by the Centre. The Test booklet can be used as a worksheet for solving questions.

What is the exam pattern for SAT 2021?

The SAT 2021 exam comprises 4 sections in all. The total time for this test is 3 hours excluding the breaks.

The first section is the Reading. This section asks 52 questions in all from 5 passages, each passage with roughly 10-11 questions under it. The total time to answer these is 65 minutes. There is a break of 10 minutes after this section.

The second section is the Writing and Language section. This contains 4 passages and a total of 44 questions, 11 in each, to be answered in 35 minutes.

The Math section is divided into the No Calculator section, which lasts 25 minutes and comprises 20 questions, and the Calculator-based questions, which contain 38 questions to be answered in 55 minutes.

There is a break of 5 minutes after the No calculator section.

What are the total marks of the SAT exam?

The total mark of the SAT is in a range of 400 to 1600.

The Verbal score ranges from 200-800 and vice versa the Math score.

These scores come from a raw score range between 10-40 each on Reading, Writing & Language, and Math.

What is the duration of the SAT examination?

The SAT exam lasts 3 hours and 15 minutes including the breaks.

Who is eligible for the SAT exam?

According to College Board, there are no eligibility criteria for writing the SAT. But usually, students between the 10th grade and 12th grade take the SAT to prepare for their undergraduate studies abroad.

What is the medium of instruction for SAT Test?

The medium of instruction for the SAT is English and only English.

How many sections are there in the SAT examination?

There are 4 sections on the SAT exam.

The SAT Reading, SAT Writing & Language, No calculator section of Math, and Calculator section of the Math.

What is the time allotted for each section in SAT 2021?

The SAT Reading section is 65 minutes

The SAT Writing & Language section is 35 minutes

The No Calculator section is 25 minutes

The Calculator section is 55 minutes

Is negative marking there in the SAT?

There is no negative marking for the SAT. So it is a must to answer every question. The SAT scores come from the number of questions you have answered correctly and the average difficulty level of the questions answered on the whole.

Can I take the SAT online?

No. The SAT is a paper-pencil test and has not yet come on the online mode.

How many questions are there in each section of the SAT question paper?

The SAT Reading section contains 52 questions. The SAT Writing & Language section has 44 questions. The total number of questions in SAT Math is 20 in the No Calculator section and 38 in the Calculator section.

Are calculators allowed in the SAT exam?

Yes, calculators are allowed. But there are specifications according to College Board.

Only Scientific or Graphical calculators can be used. Go through the SAT Calculator policy here: