Format Of The SAT

SAT Test Format- Everything You Need to Know about it!

SAT, which is developed by College Board, is an internationally acknowledged test for getting admission in U.S educational institutions. College Board, a not-for-profit organization, guides and directs students towards higher education by means of this exam. It basically assesses the reading, writing and mathematical skills of the candidates. Score is one of the main factors considered for college admissions and hence aspirants must understand the examination format thoroughly to achieve a high score in the exam.

Different Sections in SAT

The test consists of the following sections:

  • Critical reading
  • Writing
  • Mathematics

The total exam duration is 3 hours and 45 minutes. Critical reading has two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section. The writing part has two 25-minute sections and one 10-minute section. The math part, like the reading segment, is also of two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section. Also present is a 25-minute variable section which is not considered towards the score. It is offered seven times a year in the United States and six times at other countries. With this briefly given format, let us now discuss each of these sections in detail.

Critical Reading

The format of the critical reading section is nothing other than reading passages and sentence completion questions.

  • Reading Passages

    The reading passages segment evaluates the ability of the candidates to figure out a given concept, grasp its context and analyze the inferences. This segment forms the major portion of the critical reading section. The passages are short and are mostly on natural sciences, humanities, social sciences, and literary fiction etc.

  • Sentence Completion

    Sentence completion questions examine the language proficiency and the candidate's skills to frame a sentence aptly. The number of sentence completion questions is between 5 and 8 and these are multiple choice questions.


This division of the test contains essay-writing, error identification and questions on improving sentences and paragraphs with the structure of the last two being multiple-choice pattern.

  • Error-identification

    Error identification questions check the ability of the candidates to identify the presence of errors in sentences and indicate how to eliminate them.

  • Sentence improvement

    As the name states, sentence improvement questions assess how well a candidate can correct errors in sentence structure.

  • Paragraph Improvement

    This segment identifies the candidate's potential to understand the context of a paragraph, articulate and arrange sentences in a coherent manner.

  • Essay-writing

    Given a particular topic, the candidates will be asked to write an essay on it. Essay-writing is of 25 minutes duration within which the students should frame ideas on the topic and produce them in an orderly manner.


The candidates are tested on the following areas of mathematics:

  • Numbers and arithmetic operations
  • Algebra and functions
  • Geometry and measurement
  • Data analysis, statistics, and probability

The math section includes multiple choice and grid-in types of questions. As known, in the multiple-choice segment, the students should single out the correct answer from few given choices. The math part has two 25 minute sections and one 20 minute section, as stated earlier. One of the 25 minute sections has 20 multiple choice questions and the other one has 8 multiple choice questions and 10 grid-in questions. The grid-in questions have no choices and the candidates have to solve the problem and grid-in the answers. The 20 minute section has 16 questions and is fully of multiple choice type. There are no minus points for incorrect responses in that section.

More details on structure are at the official SAT website. SAT Reasoning - About Sections is also a good source of information for understanding that. Having gathered complete information on exam sections and question types, candidates are ready to start with the preparation.