Expert Guide : How Long Is The SAT?

Sep 8, 2022 | Turito Team USA

For every student thinking about taking the SAT, here is the whole SAT time breakdown to help you prepare for the exam.

The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is a crucial exam for every student seeking college entrance. From planning to practising, a student has to consider numerous variables to be fully prepared for the exam. Passage reading and practising math problems are just the two variables of it. The fact that it lasts for a long time (3-4 hours) makes it vital for you to also know about timing and pacing. Exam time can mentally drain you out. You have to attempt and answer several questions in the same time window, which can be a challenging task.

So, to help you pace yourself, we have cultivated this expert and definite guide that covers the length of the SAT exam, times for individual sections, and section order. It will equip you with everything you need to know to power through the test.

Breaking Down the SAT Test with Time Management:

SAT is a multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper exam that the College Board administers in collaboration with the Educational Testing Service. The majority of colleges and institutions use it to evaluate admissions decisions.

How long is the SAT?

The SAT lasts 3 hours (180 minutes), omitting the optional essay and breaks. The overall exam length climbs to 4 hours and 50-minutes, including the optional essay.

What is on the SAT?

In the exam, student’s abilities are assessed in three areas: mathematics, reading, and writing. Students often take the test in their junior or senior year. The SAT is divided into three portions. Each academic area is further broken into timed sections for pupils. Here’s a quick overview of the various SAT exam components.

  • Reading: The reading section of the SAT has a time limit of 65 minutes to answer 52 questions. It provides you with 1 minute 15 seconds (75  seconds) to read and attempt each question.
  • Writing and Language: The Writing and Language section of the SAT has a time limit of 35 minutes to answer 44 questions. It provides you with 47 seconds to read and attempt each question.
  • Math (No Calculator): The math section of the SAT has a time limit of 20 minutes to answer 20 questions. It provides you with 1 minute and 15 seconds (75 seconds) to read and attempt each question.
  • Math (Calculator): The math section of the SAT has a time limit of 50 minutes to answer 38 questions. It provides you with 1 minute 26 seconds (86 seconds) to read and attempt each question.

Math Section of SAT:

The math section has 58 questions with multiple-choice or grid-in response options. Grid-in responses require you to solve for an answer before writing it into a grid and filling out the answer bubbles. An MCQ-type question contains the right key amongst other plausible but incorrect answers. You must respond to MCQs by selecting the option that best answers or completes the stem.

The math section is separated into two parts: with and without a calculator. There are 15 multiple-choice questions and five grid-in questions in the no-calculator part. The calculator section has 30 multiple-choice questions and eight grid-in questions.

  • Heart of Algebra: The math section has 19 questions on algebra’s essential components, which include inequalities, formulas, and equations.
  • Advanced Math: The part has 16 problems dependent on advanced mathematics, such as quadratic equations and polynomials.
  • Data Analysis and Problem Solving: The section has 17 data analysis and problem-solving questions that widely include percentages, graphing relationships, and ratios.
  • Additional Topics: The section also has six additional mathematics questions, including trigonometry and geometry.

Reading Section of SAT:

Students must read five passages to answer questions on the reading test. The texts are usually 500 to 750 words long, and the questions assess students’ ability to read and assimilate information. Text is interspersed with graphs, charts, and tables to provide context. These sections often incorporate information about literature, history, and science.

  • Command of Evidence: The section includes ten questions that ask students to determine how the text employs or does not use evidence to back up their statements.
  • Words in Context: The section includes ten questions that focus on the proper and improper use of vocabulary.
  • Analysis: The section includes 32 questions on assessing students’ ability to identify the passage’s purpose or ability to conclude.

Writing Section of SAT:

The writing section features 44 multiple-choice questions. It has four passages between 400 and 500 words. They can cover anything from social studies to science topics.

  • Expression of Ideas: The section includes 24 questions solely based on proper word choice and development and the organisation of arguments.
  • Standard English Conventions: There are 20 questions in this section about proper sentence structure and grammar usage.

How to Prepare for the SAT Exam Length?

Take Full-Length Practice Tests

Taking full-length, carefully timed practice exams is the most efficient way to prepare for the SAT’s pace and timing. It will help you adjust to the SAT’s format and time demands. Ensure you’re using College Board-prepared practice tests. Don’t rely on outdated practice examinations because they differ significantly from the current SAT structure. Time yourself as though you were taking the SAT.

Practice Tests on Weekends

The optimum time to take authentic SAT practice exams is on a Saturday or Sunday morning to solidify your energy level on test day. It may be simpler to schedule a practice exam late on a Sunday night, but the real test will be in the morning, so plan accordingly.

Individual Practice Sections: Time Yourself

Make sure you are practising a particular section with the time allotted on the exam while you study for the various SAT sections. For instance, following a week of SAT Reading preparation, take one or two practice exams with a 65-minute time limit to simulate the time allotted for that portion of the real exam. This can help you become used to the SAT’s scheduling and strengthen your test-taking stamina.

Final Takeaways,

While taking an SAT, staying focused throughout the test can be challenging while ensuring that you attempt every question. It’s a rather lengthy test that can be exhausting. That is why it is critical to be well-informed beforehand.

It is critical to becoming familiar with the length and pace of each portion. Take full-length practice tests and spend time on each section as you prepare. Staying focused is very important, so develop calming strategies. It will help you power through the test.


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