An Overview of the 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 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
Reading 52 multiple choice questions 65 minutes Evidence-based Reading & Writing score

200 to 800

Break 10 minutes
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
Essay (Optional) 1 prompt 50 minutes Reading 2 to 8

Analysis 2 to 8

Writing 2 to 8


Order of the sections:

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section:

  • The Evidence-Based Reading and 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.

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

    The Writing and Language Test:

    • The 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.

Math Section:

  • The 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 are also a handful of Grid In questions where students need to enter their own answer.
  • 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 the 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 the 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.

Essay Section: 

  • 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.

Score 1550+ on SAT
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