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 test 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
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.


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
SAT Essay  No longer a part of the SAT

Note: The SAT Optional Essay of 50 minutes is no longer a part of the test now.


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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 Evidence Based Reading Section Exam Pattern

Total Passages Total Questions Time
5 Passages (4 single passages and 1 set of paired passages with 500–750 words per passage or passage set) 52 Questions (multiple choice questions with 4 answer choices) 62 minutes


The SAT Evidence-Based Reading Passage Types
U.S. and World Literature 1 passage with 10 questions
History/Social Studies 2 passages or 1 passage and 1 paired-passage set with 10-11 questions each
Science 2 passages or 1 passage and 1 paired-passage set with 10-11 questions each


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.


Total Passages Total Questions Time
4 Passages with 11 Questions each and 400-500 words per passage. 44 Questions (multiple choice questions with 4 answer choices) 35 minutes


The passages range from arguments to nonfiction narratives and will be about careers, history, social studies, the humanities, and science. Some passages and/or questions deal with informational graphics that represent data. 


What’s Tested by Writing & Language Test Questions?
Expression of Ideas 24 Questions on development, organization, and effective language use
Standard English Conventions 20 Questions on Sentence structure, conventions of usage, and conventions of punctuation


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 Math Section Exam Pattern  

Math Sections Number of Questions Time
No calculator 15 multiple choice, 5 grid-ins 25 minutes
With calculator 30 multiple choice, 8 grid-ins (including one Extended Thinking question) 55 minutes
Total 58 questions 80 minutes


SAT Math Content

Content Area Number of Questions Description
Heart of Algebra 19 questions Analyzing and fluently solving equations and systems of equations; creating expressions, equations, and inequalities to represent relationships between quantities and to solve problems; rearranging and interpreting formulas
Problem Solving and Data Analysis 17 questions Creating and analyzing relationships using ratios, proportions, percentages, and units; describing relationships shown graphically; summarizing qualitative and quantitative data
Passport to Advanced Math 16 questions Rewriting expressions using their structure; creating, analyzing, and fluently solving quadratic and higher-order equations; purposefully manipulating polynomials to solve problems
Additional Topics in Math 6 questions Making area and volume calculations in context; investigating lines, angles, triangles, and circles using theorems; and working with trigonometric functions


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.


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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

What Does the SAT Writing and Language Test Measure?

The SAT Writing and Language Test is a multiple-choice test which primarily measures a student’s ability to go through passages and identify grammatical and editing errors.

Some of the key aspect that is measured on the SAT Writing and Language are Standard English Conventions, Command of Evidence, Words in Context, Expression of Ideas, and Analysis in History/Social Studies and in Science.

What Does the SAT Reading Test Measure?

The SAT reading tests the student’s ability to critically analyze a passage and use the information provided in the passage to answer questions in a logical manner. The reading questions test some primary skills in Command of Evidence, Words in Context, Analysis in History/Social Studies and in Science.

What Does the SAT Math Test Measure?

The SAT Math exam comprehensively tests a wide range of math skills, laying a special emphasis on the ability to innovatively solve problems, model, use tools strategically, and manipulate algebraic structure.

The SAT Math Test is designed to measure a range of math proficiencies, with an emphasis on problem solving, modeling, using tools strategically, and using algebraic structure.

The primary areas that are covered in the math section are Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Passport to Advanced Math, geometry and trigonometry. 

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