SAT Sections – You Need To Know About

Sep 9, 2022 | Turito Team USA

The Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is a standardised entrance exam used by most colleges and universities to make admission decisions in the United States. The SAT test evaluates a high school student’s aptitude for college.

The SAT provides institutions with a single piece of information with which to compare all applicants. Most students take the SAT in their 11th or 12th grade, however, some do so much earlier, in their tenth. Almost all US colleges and universities worldwide use this exam to make admission decisions.

The College Board is a private, non-profit corporation in the United States that devised and published the SAT.

What Does the SAT Intend to Test?

The SAT skills are taught in high school classrooms, which the College Board considers essential for college success and beyond. This includes 

  • Math – Mathematical operations include algebra, arithmetic operations, statistics, geometry, and probability.
  • Reading – It includes reading passages and completing sentences.
  • Writing – Writing includes a short essay and MCQs on identifying errors and improving grammar and usage. 

Exam Structure

The SAT Reasoning Test and the SAT Subject Test are the two sets of tests that make up the SAT exam pattern. Students choosing to pursue higher education overseas typically choose the Reasoning Test as their test. This is one of the most sought-after competitive exams. This score is widely recognised in universities and colleges around the world. 

The SAT Reasoning Test Exam Pattern

The total duration of the test is 3 hours and 50 minutes, including the optional essay section. The SAT essay is optional, and if applicants choose not to take it, the full test will still last three hours.

Some test-takers who opt out of the essay may also have access to a fifth portion, which is at least partially used to pretest questions that could appear on the next SAT administrations. The SAT has two main sections:

  • The Math section
  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW, or the “English” portion of the test)

These two sections are further broken down into four sections:

1. Evidence-based Reading Section

The reading test covers 50 per cent of a candidate’s maximum test scores in the evidence-based reading and writing sections. It comprises 52 multiple-choice questions for which the total time limit allotted will be 65 minutes. All questions are multiple-choice and based on reading passages. The section consists of five passages from topics such as world literature, social science, history, natural science, etc.

Some paragraphs may be accompanied by tables, charts, and graphs, but no math is necessary to correctly respond to the questions that follow.

The questions may demand from the candidate any of the following,

  • Determine the meaning of a word in the context
  • Decide why an author has included a particular detail in the passage
  • Find the main idea of the passage
  • Compare the two given passage pairs
  • Point out the information given on a graph

The Reading Test contributes to two subscores, each of which ranges from 1 to 15 points, together with the Writing and Language Tests:

  • Words in Context
  • Evidence Command

2. Writing and Language Section

The Evidence-based Reading and Writing Section is divided into two halves. The section consists of four passages, and each passage consists of 11 questions. Thus, the section evaluates the writing and language competence of the candidate based on these 44 MCQs. The total time allotted is 35 minutes for the section that tests proficiency in grammar, punctuation, vocabulary in context, and editing skills.

Akin to the Reading Test, all questions are based on reading passages that tables, graphs, and charts may accompany. The applicant will be required to read the texts in this part and offer any modifications or enhancements to the highlighted portions. Argumentative essays on diverse issues, as well as narrative nonfiction pieces, will be among the topics covered.

The section will assess the applicant for several abilities, including enhancing argument clarity, enhancing word choice, and understanding social studies and scientific issues. As well as fixing or refining sentence structure, word use, and grammar, it also includes modifying a phrase or word structure to improve the organization and effect of writing.

Two subscores, each ranging from 1 to 15 points, are reported for the Writing and Language Test.:

  • Conventions of Standard English
  • Expression of Ideas

3. Maths (without a calculator)

The mathematics section test is a total of 80 minutes long. Of the total 58 questions for the mathematics section, 20 questions are the ones in which the use of calculators is not permitted. The 20 questions are further broken down into 15 multiple-choice questions and five grid-in questions. This section, in which the calculator is not allowed, lasts for 25 minutes.

4. Maths (with a calculator)

The other part of the math section consists of 38 questions. The use of a calculator is permitted in this section. The total allotted time to solve this section is 55 minutes. The 38 questions are further broken down into 30 multiple-choice questions and eight grid-in questions.

Any scientific or graphic calculators, including Computer Algebra System calculators, are only permitted in the SAT Math (Calculator) section. Contrarily, smartphone calculators, mobile phones, keyboards resembling typewriters (QWERTY), laptops, calculators with Internet connectivity, and other portable computers are not allowed.

5. Essay (Optional)

The essay section is optional. Yet many candidates choose to write it to demonstrate their writing skills. The section expects an essay of about 700 words or a one-page extended essay. The test takers usually enquire about how the author builds the argument in the essay and require them to have sound knowledge of specific rhetorical devices.

SAT Scores

The total score range for the SAT exam is between 400 and 1600. This consists of the cumulative scores from both the EBRW and Math sections. Each section has a possible score range of 200 to 800. Raw scores are given to each question for every correct answer. The raw scores are then scaled to 800 for each section to know the scaled score.


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