SAT Test Overview

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.

Test Media:

As of spring of 2019, it is expected that all students will test digitally. Only students who have an accommodation requiring a paper-pencil test can test on paper. Each student must complete all sections of the test in one day unless the student has been approved for accommodations that extend testing time beyond a day. All students taking the test on the same day have to test at the same time. Primary and Makeup test days could vary by state and school. If your state has a designated makeup test day, all testing on the makeup day will be Paper/Pencil.

SAT Section Comparisons

  Section # Of Questions Time Allowed Details Score Range  
  SAT Evidence-Based Reading & Writing 96 100 minutes Reading (52 questions), Writing & Language (44 questions) 200-800  
  SAT Math 58 80 minutes Multiple Choice (45 questions), Grid-in (13 questions) 200-800  
  SAT Optional Essay 1 50 minutes Optional Only 6-24  
  Totals   3 Hours   400-1600  

SAT Details

  • The SAT is a 3 hour 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 1000
  • The national average of ACT scores is about 21 (composite) and 7.7 (writing).
  • Test Sections and Time:

    • Reading Time Allotted: 65 (minutes)
    • Number of Questions/Tasks: 52
    • Writing and Language Time Allotted: 35 (minutes)
    • Number of Questions/Tasks: 44
    • Essay (optional) Time Allotted: 50 (minutes)
    • Number of Questions/Tasks: 1
    • Mathematics Time Allotted: 80 (minutes)
    • Number of Questions/Tasks: 58
    • Total Test Time: 180 minutes (without essay)/ 230 minutes (with essay)
    • Total Number of Questions/Tasks: 154/155 (with essay)

SAT Specifics

Math Section:

1. The College Board has listed 41 specific skills that the new math test will assess. Fifteen percent of the math questions will have a hard science theme, and 15 percent will have a social studies theme.

Verbal Section:

2. The name of critical reading and writing will be changed to evidence based reading and writing: The section will include graphs and tables for science and social studies passages.

3. There will be a no calculator section that is worth 1/3 of the math score. The test places an emphasis on students’ ability to identify when a calculator is an effective tool. The calculator section will include “questions in which the calculator could be a deterrent to expedience, thus assessing appropriate use of tools.”

4. More Varied Text: The reading passages will come from a variety of academic disciplines including science, history, social studies, and literature.

5. Less Obscure Vocabulary: Words will now be "relevant in context" and are ones that are widely used in college and professional life.

6. Students will know passages ahead of time that will be from a founding document in american history or from a text that is part of the "great global conversation".

SAT Score Reporting

Area Scores: Will report two area scores:

1) Evidence Based Reading and Writing: will equal the sum of the Reading Test score and the Writing and Language Test Score 2) Math: Will be the math test score Each of the two scores will be reported on a scale ranging from 200 to 800. Scores for the essay will be reported separately and not be factored into area scores.

Test Scores: The SAT will report three test scores, on a scale from 10 to 40.

1) Reading Test Score 2) Writing and Language Test Score 3) Math Test Score The Essay will be reported separately. Current plans call for the Essay to report three scores, a decision that will be reassessed pending the outcome of further research.

Cross-Test Scores: The SAT will also report two cross-test scores:

1) Analysis in History/Social Studies 2) Analysis in Science Each of these scores will be reported on a 10-40 scale. These scores are based on selected questions in the SAT Reading, Writing and Language, and Math Tests and will reflect the application of reading, writing, language, and math skills in history/social studies and science contexts


The SAT will report multiple scores for Reading, Writing and Language, and Math. Reading and Writing and Language Tests will contribute questions to two subscores:

  • 1) Command of Evidence
  • 2) Relevant Words in Context.

The Writing and Language Test will report two additional subscores:

  • 1) Expression of Ideas
  • 2) Standard English Conventions

Math Test will report three subscores:

  • 1) Heart of Algebra
  • 2) Problem Solving and Data Analysis
  • 3) Passport to Advanced Math

Total: seven subscores. Each on a scale ranging from 1 to 15.

The College Board will release official practice materials for the new SAT in the spring of 2015.