SAT is a standardized test administered by the College Board and is required to be taken by students seeking admission to undergraduate schools. The full form of SAT is the Scholastic Assessment Test, which was earlier known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test. SATs has been developed to evaluate the written, verbal and mathematical skills of the candidates. SAT is a pencil-paper test taken by those who aspire to pursue undergraduate courses, particularly in the US and Canada are required to take the SAT exam. Earlier, students looking to get admission to a particular course needed to take the SAT subject test but now SAT Subjects are discontinued by the College Board from June 2021. UG aspirants should know when they should start studying for the SAT.

Why SAT?

Students looking to enroll in undergraduate programs in the US appear for their SAT. Most of the colleges in the US require SAT for admission to undergraduate courses. Apart from this, many schools also offer SAT scholarships money to students based on their SAT result.

Types of SAT

Conducted by the College Board, SAT 1 or more commonly referred to as the Scholastic Assessment Test is required to be taken by students seeking admission to undergraduate schools. SAT 1 is a general test that has been developed to evaluate the written, verbal and mathematical skills of candidates. SAT 2, on the other hand, is a more subject-focused test. Students looking to get admission to a particular course are required to take the SAT Subject Test to demonstrate their knowledge of that particular subject. SAT Subjects are discontinued by the College Board from June 2021. Now aspirants just need to take the SAT 2022 for getting admission to their desired UG course.

SAT exam pattern comprises of two major sections – Evidence-based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and Math and an optional essay. Both sections, EBRW and Math, are scored on a range of 200-800.  Even though optional, SAT essay score is required by a number of colleges during the application process. The score range for SAT Essay section is 2 to 8.

  • Both sections of EBRW questions are multiple-choice questions
  • Math is divided into two sets of questions – one to be attempted without using a calculator and one with a calculator
  • Most of the Mathematics questions are MCQs; some questions are grid-ins i.e. students must solve and fill in the answer on the bubble sheet
  • The exam is 3 hours long. SAT with Essay is 3 hours and 50 minutes long.
  • There is a time limit of 100 minutes to attempt EBRW and 80 minutes for Math.


The below table provides an idea about the SAT test pattern. Candidates will get to know about the duration, number of questions, score range, and more.

Number of sections 4 (2 EBRW; 2 Math)
Duration of exam 180 minutes (without Essay)
Number of questions 154
Score Range 400-1600
Language of paper English
Mode of examination Pencil-paper
Negative marking None

Note: The score is valid for 5 years. SAT is administered 5 times a year.


The SAT question paper pattern is based on two main sections – evidence-based reading and writing, and mathematics. There is an optional essay section which is opted by candidates sometimes.

Section Sub-section Number of Questions Time Limit (min.) Score Range
Evidence-based Reading and Writing Reading Test 52 65 200-800
Writing and Language Test 44 35
Mathematics Math without a Calculator 20 25 200-800
Math with Calculator 38 55
Essay(optional) - 1 50 2 to 8
Total - 154(155 with Essay) 180 (230 with essay) 400-1600


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.

 SAT Essay Section:

  • SAT 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.