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 3 hours (plus 50 minutes for the optional Essay) and costs $43 ($54.50 for the SAT with Essay).

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 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).

    2016 Changes in SAT

    I. Main Changes of the New SAT in 2016:

    1. Section Types:

    Instead of three required sections (critical reading, writing, and math), there will be two sections covering the original three content areas:

    • (1) evidence-based reading and writing section
    • (2) math sections

    2. Revised Math Section:

    There is a big shift away from geometry compared with the current test, which spends about a quarter of its time on geometry.

    3. No More Required Essay

    The essay section will become optional. For the essay you will now have to present evidence from the text given and cite specific evidence from the passage to validate your chosen answer. Separate test component that's 50 minutes long.

    4. Scoring System & Question Types:

    Currently the SAT deducts .25 of a point for every wrong answer but new changes eliminate the point deduction. The test will include 45 multiple-choice questions in total, which will each have four answer choices rather than the current five, as well as 11 grid-in questions, and an Extended Thinking question worth four points will be added. The Extended Thinking question will have one word-problem scenario with multiple grid-in questions following it.

    5. Test Time:

    Standard test (without the optional essay) will take about 3 hours now.

    6. Test Score:

    The total score will be out of 1600 now instead of 2400.

    7. Test Media:

    Test will now be available in either a paper or digital formal. The digital format will have limited availability at first.

    II. Specific Changes of the New SAT in 2016:

    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".

    III. Comparison between New and Existing Versions of SAT


    • 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)



    • Critical Reading Time Allotted: 70 (minutes)
    • Number of Questions/Tasks: 67
    • Writing Time Allotted: 60 (minutes)
    • Number of Questions/Tasks: 49
    • Essay Time Allotted: 25 (minutes)
    • Number of Questions/Tasks: 1
    • Mathematics Time Allotted: 70
    • Number of Questions/Tasks: 54 (minutes)
    • Total Number of Questions/Tasks: 171

    IV. Score Reporting of the New SAT in 2016

    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.

    SAT Test Prep Tutoring & Preparation Courses

    Based in New York City (NYC), Manhattan Elite Prep offers SAT test prep classes and tutoring services. We also have expert teachers for all major SAT sections including Writing, Critical Reading & Math. With locations on the East Coast, from Boston (MA) to Miami (FL), to cities on the West Coast, such as San Diego (CA), Los Angeles (CA), San Jose (CA) and San Francisco (CA), Manhattan Elite Prep has instructors in almost every major city in the United States.

    Our SAT tutors help students achieve their best score in private tutoring sessions throughout the country, from our Dallas (TX), Houston (TX) and Austin (TX) locations in Texas, to our Chicago (IL), Cincinnati (OH), Columbus (OH) and Indianapolis (IN) locations. We offer private tutoring for the SAT, among other tests, in cities away from the major metro areas, such as Louisville (KY), St. Louis (MO), Salt Lake City (UT), Oklahoma City (OK) and Kansas City (KS).

    Our online SAT teachers help students achieve their best score in online test preparation classes. We offer online test prep courses for the SAT, among other tests. For SAT test prep students pursuing an online SAT class we allow for maximum flexibility by providing them with immediate and unlimited access to our online library. For SAT students, test preparation courses can be expensive, so we are always sure to have online SAT instructors available at affordable rates.