About The SAT

The Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is a standardized test used for college admissions in the United States. It assesses students’ skills in Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. The questions are of Multiple Choice format and there is an optional 50-minute essay. The total testing time with the essay is 3 hours and 50 minutes.

The purpose of the SAT, or any other standardized test, is to have a common metric that can be used to compare all applicants, regardless of their high school background. The alternative to the SAT is the ACT, and colleges will accept either test score.

Most students take the SAT in either Grade 11 or early Grade 12, and fortunately for you, there is no limit to the number of times you are permitted to take the test. So, do remember to leave adequate time to retake the test if needed. The tests are usually held multiple times a year, however this year’s testing schedule has been disrupted by Covid-19.

SAT Test Format

This test consists of three sections: Evidence-based Reading & Writing, Math and an Optional Essay

Evidence-based Reading and Writing

This section is split into two subsections – evidence based reading & writing and language. The reading section is composed of 52 multiple-choice questions and the time allocated is 65 minutes. You will be required to read five passages, on topics ranging from World Literature to History to Science, and answer questions based on the passages.

Do not be alarmed about the wide genres of passages you will encounter as topic-specific knowledge is never tested. Rather, the purpose of this section is to measure comprehension and reasoning skills.

The writing section is composed of 44 multiple-choice questions and the time allocated is 35 minutes. Similar to the reading section, this is also passage-based and there are four passages in total. You will be required to identify errors in grammar, punctuation and organization and provide suggestions on how to fix them.

The purpose of this section is to assess expression, grammar, usage and punctuation.

Math

This section includes multiple-choice and response questions. The questions are based on the Math college-bound students typically learn during their first three years of high school.

This section is further split into two subsections – a no-calculator section that is composed of 20 questions and is 25 minutes long, and a calculator based section that is composed of 38 questions and is 55 minutes long. The majority of questions on both math sections are Multiple Choice, with a few response questions. You will have access to a list of formulas. The content in both math sections are commonly covered in your high school classes. It includes:

  • Heart of Algebra – linear equations, systems of linear equations, and inequalities
  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis – the application of ratios, percentages, interpreting graphs, linear and exponential growth, basic statistics and proportional reasoning.
  • Passport to Advanced Math – adding, subtracting, and multiplying polynomials, dividing a polynomial by a linear expression, or manipulating expressions involving exponentials, integer and rational powers, radicals, or fractions with a variable in the denominator.
  • Additional topics – Volume, area calculations, right triangle geometry, congruence and similarity, angles, arc lengths, and trigonometry functions, circle theorems, and complex numbers

Essay

For this section, you’ll be asked to read a passage (650-750 words) to determine how the author builds an argument to persuade an audience through the use of evidence, reasoning, or stylistic and persuasive devices. Although optional, many universities either require or recommend completing the essay section and use the essay scores as part of their evaluation. Hence, it is advisable to complete this section. You will have 50 minutes to complete this section.

Summary

SectionSub-sectionTesting TimeNumber of QuestionsContent/Skills Covered
Evidence-Based Reading & WritingEvidence -Based Reading65 Minutes52Reading Comprehension And Vocabulary
Writing and Language35 Minutes44Grammar And Usage
MathNo-Calculator25 Minutes20Heart Of Algebra, Problem Solving & Data Analysis, Passport To Advanced Math, Additional Topics
Calculator allowed55 Minutes38
Essay50 Minutes1Argument Analysis