SAT exam pattern- Sections, duration, and score

SAT exam pattern- Sections, duration, and score

Updated on 22 January, 2022
Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

Understanding the SAT exam pattern is of paramount importance for all those who want to study undergraduate courses from universities or colleges abroad. SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) is a standardized examination conducted by the College Board. Before being renamed in 1990, the SAT exam was earlier called the Scholastic Aptitude Test. The SAT exam structure is designed to assess verbal, written and mathematical abilities of aspirants to check their readiness for entering college. Aspirants wishing to pursue undergraduate studies in the US and Canada have to clear the SAT examination. Subject tests are available in disciplines like Literature, Foreign Languages, Mathematics, History and Sciences.

The SAT exam format depends on the type of examination that a candidate is appearing for. SAT Reasoning Test is for those applying for admission to undergraduate institutions. This general examination tests mathematical, verbal, and written capabilities of students. SAT Subject Test is a subject-based examination that is opted by those who wish to study a subject in detail. It tests students seeking admission into a particular course/field of study. In the usual scenario, students appear for the SAT exam after high school in order to get into universities in the US. The examination spans 3 hours without the essay. If you select the essay, then the exam duration will be 3 hours and 50 minutes. Scoring is a vital component of the SAT exam structure. Every section of the examination is evaluated on a scale of 200-800. The total score is the sum of all section scores. A separate score is provided if an aspirant takes the SAT exam with the essay. 

SAT exam pattern- Duration, sections, score and more

Here is a closer look at the SAT exam format for a better understanding.

Structure of the SAT examination:

Section of ExaminationQuestion Count & DetailsDuration or Time LimitScore Scale or Range
SAT Reading52 multiple-choice questions65 minutes

Evidence-based Reading & Writing score


200 to 800

Break 10 minutes
SAT Writing & Language44 multiple-choice questions35 minutes
No Calculator – Math20 (15 multiple-choice and 5 Grid in questions)25 minutes

Math score


200 to 800

Break 5 minutes
Yes Calculator – Math38 (30 multiple-choice and 8 Grid in questions)55 minutes
Break 2 minutes 
SAT Essay (Optional)1 prompt50 minutes

Reading 2 to 8


Analysis 2 to 8

Writing 2 to 8

Total155 questions (with the essay), 154 questions (without the essay)230 minutes (with the essay), 180 minutes (without the essay)1600 (without the essay)

Learning about the SAT exam pattern is useful before you start your preparation for the test. Formulating the right strategy is essential to perform well.


SAT Exam Pattern FAQs

Q. Q1. Apart from the US and Canada, which all countries accept SAT scores?

Other countries that accept SAT scores are Australia and the United Kingdom.

Q. Q2. What is the fee for the SAT exam in India?

It is $104 (INR 7,727) without the essay and $117 (INR 8,699) with the essay for Indian students. 

Q. Q3. How many times can a student take the SAT exam?

SAT is conducted five times a year in India and the students can take the test as many times as they want. 

Q. Q4. Should we take the SAT or ACT exam to secure admission into an American university?

SAT and ACT (American College Testing) are both standardized exams for students who wish to pursue undergraduate studies from the US. To understand which test one should take, it is advised to check the college website for the eligibility criteria and take the test mandated by the college.

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