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).

Details of SAT General
Duration 3 Hours + 50 Minutes for Essay [Optional]
Questions 154
Language of Paper English
Sections Reading, Math, and Writing
Frequency 5 times a year


Negative Marking


Score Scale 400-1600



Why take the SAT Exam?

Although there are many exams to study abroad, taking the SAT exam has its own benefits. Below are listed the major reasons why one should appear for the SAT exam:

  • A doorway to pursue undergraduate programs in American and Canadian Universities.
  • SAT score not only helps you to get a scholarship but helps you explore different options for paying your college tuition fee.
  • Additionally , SAT scores are taken into consideration for certain job opportunities.


Types of SAT Exams

The SAT Exam is conducted by the College Board and is of two types. The first test is the general test that is taken to evaluate the written, verbal and mathematical skills of the aspirants whereas the second test, SAT 2, is a subject test and is taken to demonstrate your knowledge of a particular subject.


What are SAT II Subject Tests?

Subject Tests are multiple-choice tests that focus on a specific subject and are 1 hour long. These tests are more academic than the SAT I and we recommend students to take them after an AP/IB/Honors course in that respective field. The timing to give this test is often in May or June of that year. We always advise June because by then, students have finished studying for finals and the AP or IB tests and just have to retain the knowledge.

Know more About the SAT II Subject Tests


What is the Right Time to Take the SAT?

After you have completed your class 12th you can take an SAT exam. You must take an SAT exam if you are applying for an undergraduate course at an abroad university. The exam is accepted in the US, Canada, the UK and Australia.


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.


The College Board has recently announced that the SAT will go digital beginning in 2024. The test will be 2 hours as opposed to 3 hours for the current SAT. Given the increased ease of taking the test, we are likely to see a dramatic increase in the number of test takers for the Digital SAT in 2024.

The major changes to the test content declared so far include the following:

  • Shorter reading passages with one question per passage
  • Passages from a broader range of college-level texts
  • Calculators for the entire Math section.


Slot Booking of SAT Exam

Candidates are highly recommended to book their slots timely and in advance to avoid any last moment rush as only a handful of seats are available at the SAT test centers in India.

The SAT exam is held mainly on Saturdays from October to January globally. It is always advised to secure your SAT exam dates early in order to avoid any inconvenience at the last minute.

Know more about How to Register for the SAT?


SAT Exam Fee

LIke other competitive exams, the SAT Exam in India also has a registration fee that is to be paid compulsorily . For all those who are looking forward to appearing for the test, let us understand the breakdown of examination fee for this test:

  • The SAT exam fee is $55 [INR 4,081]. Along with this, Indian candidates will have to pay a non-US regional fee of $49 [INR 3600], which means the total exam fee for Indian nationals is $104 [INR 7700].
  • For the SAT subject test, candidates will have to pay an additional fee of $26 [INR 1,900] per subject.


Cancellation Fees of SAT

We advise you to instead go for a date change instead of cancelling your exam as the cancellation fees for the SAT exam is extremely problematic and you receive no refund after five days before the exam and even if students do receive a refund, the amount is only $10.


SAT Rescheduling Fee

You need to pay extra $30 to avail the service if you wish to reschedule your exam. If students wish to change their SAT exam to SAT Subject Test, they also need to pay $30. Following are the rescheduling fees you should know:

Change Test Center $30
Late Registration Fees $30
Registering by Phone $15
Waitlist Fees $53


Subject Fees of SAT

The subject fees for all the exams are given below:

Registration fees $26
Each SAT Subject Test $22 per test
Language Test with listening $26 per test


Fee Waiver on SAT

If you are a US citizen belonging to Class 11th or Class 12th then you can get an SAT fee waiver. This service is applicable to US citizens who are residing in US territories or outside it. For students from class 9th to 12th SAT subject test waiver is available.


How Test Scores Are Calculated

Your test score is a figure between 10 and 40. Like the section scores, it’s calculated by converting the raw score (number of questions answered correctly) to a scaled score from 10 to 40. Again, scoring accounts for slight differences in difficulty between different versions of the test. Multiply the test scores for Reading and for Writing and Language by 10 to get the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score and then add them together. Multiply the Math Test score by 20 to get the Math section score.

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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 SAT Question Pattern?

The SAT 2022 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: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/taking-the-test/calculator-policy

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