The SAT is a standardized test that assesses a student’s skills in four core areas: Reading, Writing & Language, Math, and Essay (optional).

Exam Details

Table 1: Content and curriculum coverage of each subject of SAT.

SAT Scoring System

Table 2: Table 2: SAT Scoring System.

SAT Reading Includes

In this section, there will be four individual passages and one passage pair, which means there will be about 10-12 questions for each passage/passage pair. At least one of the passages will have graphics, such as tables, graphs, and charts accompanying it. Each passage, or passage pair set, will be at about 500 to 750 words.

There will be at least one passage from each of the following topics:

  • U.S. or world literature
  • U.S. founding document or a text inspired by one
  • Social science (such as economics, psychology, sociology, etc.)
  • Science (Earth science, biology, chemistry, or physics)

Section 1-Reading: Skills Tested

  • Command of Evidence (10 Questions)
  • Words in Context (10 Questions)
  • Analysis in History/Social Science and Science (32 Questions)

SAT Writing & Language Includes

Like the Reading section, all questions in the SAT Writing and Language are based on passages. This section contains four passages with 11 questions following each passage. Passages will cover either Career, Social Studies, Humanities, or Science:

  • Major professional fields, such as medicine, technology, or business.
  • Topics from history, anthropology, psychology, political science, or sociology.
  • Humanities trends in literature, drama, art, music, or dance.
  • Science passages will focus on Earth science, biology, chemistry, or physics.

Section 2- Writing & Language: Skills Tested

  • Expression of Ideas (24 questions)
  • Standard English Conventions (20 questions)

SAT Math Includes

SAT Math is divided into two sections, depending on whether or not a calculator is allowed. During the first section, when you cannot use a calculator, you’ll have 25 minutes to answer 15 multiple-choice questions and 5 grid-in questions. For the second section, when you can use a calculator, you’ll have 55 minutes to answer 30 multiple-choice questions and 8 grid-ins, including an Extended Thinking problem.

Section 3- Math: Skills Tested

  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis (17 questions)
  • Passport to Advanced Math (16 questions)
  • Additional Topics in Math (6 questions)
  • Heart of Algebra (19 questions)

SAT Essay

The SAT Essay is the only optional section of the exam. You’ll be given a passage by an author who has taken a stance on a particular issue, and you’ll need to analyze how the author builds her argument, what the strengths and weaknesses of the argument are, and how the argument could be improved. You won’t be taking your own stance on the issue.

Section 4- Essay: Skills Tested

  • The major skill you are graded on for the essay is your ability to analyze an argument and;
  • understand how evidence and rhetorical devices contribute to an argument.
  • While you’ll want your essay to be clear and easy to understand, a few minor spelling and grammar errors won’t lose you points, so you don’t have to worry about your essay being technically perfect.

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