The SAT is a standardized test that colleges use to evaluate applicants. Over two million students take the SAT every year and it is used by nearly every college in America for evaluating a student’s college preparedness. It is designed to measure a student’s ability to understand and process elements in three subjects: reading, writing, and math. SAT scores are calculated based on a student’s performance relative to other test-takers, and have proven to be an indicator of collegiate success.
The SAT consists of three sections: math, critical reading, and writing. Each of these sections is scored on a scale of 200 to 800, making 2400 a perfect score
Total Length Subsections Question Types Scoring
Math 70 minutes Two 25-minute sections
One 20-minute section 44 Multiple-Choice
10 Grid-Ins 200-800
Critical Reading 70 minutes Two 25-minute sections
One 20-minute section 19 Sentence Completions
48 Reading Comprehension 200-800
Writing 60 minutes One 25-minute
grammar section 18 Identifying Sentence
25 Improving Sentences
6 Improving Paragraphs 200-800
Experimental 25 minutes One 25-minute section Math, reading, or
grammar section not scored
Total 3 hours 45 minutes 10 sections 600-2400
The Math Section
The math sections measure a student’s ability to reason quantitatively, solve mathematical problems, and interpret data presented in graphical form. These sections focus on four areas of mathematics that are typically covered in the first three years of American high school education: Arithmetic, Algebra and Functions, Geometry, and Data Analysis. The Algebra section was recently expanded to include basic College Algebra. To test these skills, the SAT employs two different question types:
- The multiple-choice questions carry a .25-point penalty for incorrect answers. The grid-in questions carry no penalty for wrong answers, because the likelihood of guessing the correct answer is negligible.
The format of the three sections is:
- 25 minutes: 20 Multiple-Choice questions
- 25 minutes: 8 Multiple-Choice questions followed by 10 Grid-ins.
- 20 minutes: 16 Multiple-Choice questions
The Critical Reading Section
The Critical Reasoning section of the SAT measures a person’s ability to understand and analyze written material. The questions carry a .25-point penalty for incorrect answers. The Critical Reading Section consists of two types of questions.
- Reading Comprehension (including both long and short passages)
- Sentence Completion
The format of the three sections is:
- 25 minutes: 8 Sentence Completion questions followed by 16 Reading Comprehension questions
- 25 minutes: 5 Sentence Completion questions followed by 19 Reading Comprehension questions
- 20 minutes: 6 Sentence Completion questions followed by 13 Reading Comprehension questions
The Writing Section
The writing section measures a student’s ability to recognize and conform to the conventions of standard written English. This section consists of one student-written essay and multiple-choice questions. The multiple-choice questions carry a .25-point penalty for incorrect answers. The writing section contains three types of multiple-choice questions:
- Identifying Sentence Errors
- Improving Sentences
- Improving Paragraphs
The format of the two multiple-choice sections is:
- 25 minutes: 11 Improving Sentence questions, 18 Identifying Sentence Error questions, and 6 Improving Paragraphs questions
- 10 minutes: 14 Improving Sentence questions
The Experimental Section
The experimental section of the SAT is an additional 25-minute section. It can be a math, critical reading, or grammar section. It does not count towards the examinee’s score. The inclusion of this section within the SAT ensures a more fair and balanced scoring method, and allows the College Board to compile data on previously unreleased questions.
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