Each section of the SAT has a purpose in measuring students' abilities. Contact C2 to maximize your SAT score!

If you’re looking for some basic information on the different SAT test sections, we’ve got you covered. Directly below is a table summarizing the sections and format of the SAT. Further down, you’ll find more details about each section.

SectionSub-SectionTotal Testing TimeNumber of QuestionsContent/Skills Covered
Evidence-Based Reading & WritingReading65 Minutes52 multiple choiceReading, Vocabulary in Context, Understanding Charts and Graphs
Writing and Language35 Minutes44 multiple choiceGrammar, Usage, Vocabulary in Context, Understanding Charts and Graphs
MathCalculator: Not Permitted25 Minutes15 multiple choice,
5 grid-in
Heart of Algebra, Passport to Advanced Math, Additional Topics in Math
Calculator: Permitted55 Minutes30 multiple choice, 8 grid-inHeart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Passport to Advanced Math, Additional Topics in Math
Total Time:3 Hours

SAT Math

There are two SAT Math sections: a 25-minute no-calculator section that includes 15 multiple choice questions and 5 grid-in questions, and a 55-minute section that includes 30 multiple choice questions and 8 grid-in questions and allows the use of a calculator.

Most of the questions on the math section fall into one of three categories:

A few questions fall into a fourth category, Additional Topics in Math, which includes geometry and simple trigonometry. Only about 10% of the questions on the test fall into this category. Learn more from the College Board here.

SAT Reading

The SAT reading section includes 52 questions to be answered in 65 minutes. The questions are based on four passages and one set of paired passages, and at least one passage will be accompanied by a graphic like a chart, table, or graph.

The passages include one literature passage, one passage from either a U.S. founding document or from the “Great Global Conversation,” one passage from social science, and two passages from science. Each passage or set of paired passages will have 500 to 750 words.

Reading questions are entirely multiple choice. Some questions are fairly straightforward comprehension-based questions while others require you to draw conclusions or make inferences. Every passage will feature questions that evaluate your command of evidence and your ability to discern meaning based on context:

  • Command of Evidence: These questions ask you to identify evidence from the passage to support your answer to a previous question, identify how authors use evidence to support their claims, or identify the relationship between a graphic and the passage it is paired with.
  • Words in Context: These questions require that you examine a word or phrase to determine its meaning based on how it is used in the passage or to determine how a particular word choice influences the meanings, style, and tone of the passage.

Learn more from the College Board about the SAT reading section here.

SAT Writing

The SAT writing section includes 44 questions to be answered in 35 minutes. The questions are based on four passages, and at least one passage will be accompanied by a graphic like a chart, table, or graph.

The passages include one careers passage that discusses issues in major professional fields; one social studies passage from history, anthropology, psychology, political science, or sociology; one humanities passage that discusses literature or the arts; and one science passage. Each passage will have 400 to 450 words.

Writing questions are entirely multiple choice. Some will offer alternatives to an underlined portion of the passage, asking you to select the option that fixes an error or better suits the tone or style of the passage; others will ask whether certain additions, deletions, or revisions should be made; still others will ask about purpose, development, or organization.

In all, just under half of the questions on the SAT writing section will focus on Standard English Conventions, including usage, sentence structure, and punctuation. The remaining questions focus on the author’s expression of ideas, including the development of ideas, the organization of individual paragraphs or of the overall passage, and effective use of language.

Learn more from the College Board about the SAT writing section here.

Getting SAT Help

Preparing for each section of the SAT can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not sure which sections you’re weakest in. An SAT practice test can help you figure out where to prioritize your efforts. C2 offers a free test and has personalize options to help with your SAT prep.