Syllabus of SAT Exam

SAT Format-What It Comprises and Covers

About the SAT

The SAT test is a standardized test that many students take every year for admission to colleges. The test is conducted seven times a year in the U.S. and six times internationally. The SAT test and the SAT Subject Test are held on the same day, with exceptions; the SAT Subject Tests are held six times a year. For example, you cannot take the SAT Subject Test in March 2012. Therefore, you need to check the SAT test schedule and finalize your dates in advance.

The SAT Reasoning Test

The reasoning syllabus of SAT exam covers three sections, namely Writing, Maths, and Reading Comprehension. There are 171 questions in the test. The following table lists the section-wise breakup of each topic.


Type of Question with number

Total Number of Questions

Reading: 70 minutes

Extended Reasoning: 36-40


Literal Comprehension: 4-6

Vocabulary in Context: 4-6

Sentence Completions: 19

Maths: 70 minutes

Number and Operations: 11-14


Algebra and Functions: 19-22

Geometry and Measurement: 14-16

Data Analysis, Statistics and Probability: 5-8

Writing: 60 minutes

Essay: 1


Improving Sentences: 25

Identifying Sentence Errors: 18

Improving Paragraphs: 6

As is evident, more than two-thirds of the syllabus of SAT exam comprises of English and vocabulary. Thus, it is important that you do not neglect these areas. All sections are equally important and you need to make sure that you pace yourself well during the test in order to complete the paper. Remember that the SAT reasoning test carries negative marking; that is, you lose 1/4th marks for an incorrect response. You do not get points for unanswered questions.

The SAT Subject Test

SAT Subject Tests last for an hour and test a specific area or subject. You can take the SAT Subject Test to highlight your prowess in a particular subject, especially if you intend to opt for it in college. The SAT Subject Test assesses your knowledge in the subject.

There are 20 subjects available and you can appear for the SAT Subject Tests for the following subjects:

  • Biology/EM
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Literature
  • Math Level 1 or Math Level 2
  • U.S. History or World History
  • Languages
    • French or French with Listening
    • German or German with Listening
    • Spanish or Spanish with Listening
    • Chinese with Listening
    • Japanese with Listening
    • Korean with Listening
    • Italian
    • Latin
    • Modern Hebrew

The syllabus of SAT exam is specific to each subject and might include specialized topics. For example, for the Biology test, you can opt for either the ‘E’ paper that includes questions from Ecology and Evolution whereas the ‘M’ paper includes questions on Molecular Biology and Evolution.

The questions of the SAT Subject Test are in the multiple-choice format. The question format may vary according to the subject. For example, some language tests have listening tests; the Biology test has laboratory and experiment based questions. There are variations in the evaluation process for the SAT Subject Tests. For example, unlike the SAT Reasoning Test, you need not get every question correct to receive the highest score (800) for the test.

The duration and syllabus of SAT exam varies depending on the type of test you want to take. The syllabus of SAT exam is designed to test your reasoning aptitude in the areas of English and Maths among other skills. The SAT Reasoning Test lasts for 3 hours and 45 minutes whereas the duration of the SAT Subject Test is 1 hour. Many students opt to take more than one SAT Subject Test on a single test day because the duration is only for 1 hour. However, each subject has its own syllabus of SAT exam and requires in-depth knowledge of the subject and thorough preparation in each subject; therefore, you need to plan carefully if you want to appear for more than one SAT Subject Test.

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