SAT Overview

The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is one of the two standardized tests (along with the American College Testing (ACT)) for college admissions in the United States. It measures students’ preparedness for colleges and universities by testing the critical thinking skills that are essential for success after high school. The test is owned, developed and published by the College Board. It is administered and scored by Educational Training Systems. A testing session lasts approximately 4 hours and costs $45 ($71 when taken abroad).

The role an applicant’s SAT score plays in his or her candidacy to a college or university varies between institutions. While it is the preferred standardized test of most colleges on the East and West coasts, the ACT is more widely accepted in the Midwest and South. Some colleges require neither, opting to evaluate candidacy solely on the basis of high school coursework, GPA, extracurricular experiences, writing samples and recommendations. Because of variance across high schools resulting from differences in curriculum, grading and rigor, standardized tests like the SAT and ACT provide admissions boards with a comparable element for the applicant pool.

SAT Section Comparisons

  Section # Of Questions Time Allowed Details Score Range  
  SAT Writing 49 + 1 Essay Two 25 min sections and One 10 min section Improving Sentences (25 questions), Identifying Sentence Errors (18 questions), Improving Paragraphs (6 questions), Essay (1) 200-800  
  SAT Critical Reading 67 Two 25 min sections and One 20 min section Sentence Completion (19 questions) and Passage-based Reading (48 questions) 200-800  
  SAT Math 54 Two 25 min sections and One 20 min section Multiple Choice (44 questions), Grid-in (10 questions) 200-800  
  Totals   3 Hours and 45 Minutes   600-2400  

SAT Details


  •  The SAT is a 3 hour and 45 minute test and can be taken at any one of many test centers in the United States and around the world 6 or 7 times a year.
  • The SAT can be taken as many times as a student wishes to take it.
    • If you have taken the SAT multiple times, then up to six of your previous scores on the SAT and up to six of your previous scores on the SAT Subject Tests will appear on the report.
  • The national average SAT score is 1500
  • The national average of ACT scores is about 21 (composite) and 7.7 (writing).