SAT Prep

How long is the SAT?

The total test time for the SAT is 3 hours and 45 minutes. You should get three five-minute breaks during the test, so the total elapsed time for the SAT is about 4 hours. The breakdown of the test is: 70 minutes for critical reading, 60 minutes for writing (including the essay), and 70 minutes for math. There is also a non-graded section which takes an additional 25 minutes. The test will begin sometime between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. local time, depending on the particular testing site, and end by 1 p.m. Generally, you should plan to arrive at the testing location a comfortable amount of time before 8 a.m.

Shown below is the time breakdown of a 10-section SAT administration. (Note that students at some test centers will receive a 9-section SAT which is 25 minutes shorter than the 10-section SAT. See After The Test (SAT Test Forms) for more details.)

  • Section 1. 25 minute section: Essay
  • Section 2. 25 minute section: Math, Reading, or Writing
  • 5-minute break
  • Section 3. 25 minute section: Math, Reading, or Writing
  • Section 4. 25 minute section: Math, Reading, or Writing
  • 5-minute break
  • Section 5. 25 minute section: Math, Reading, or Writing
  • Section 6. 25 minute section: Math, Reading, or Writing
  • 5-minute break
  • Section 7. 25 minute section: Math, Reading, or Writing
  • Section 8. 20 minute section: Math or Reading
  • Section 9. 20 minute section: Math or Reading
  • Section 10. 10 minute section: Writing

SAT Math Quizlet: Number and Operations

SAT Math Quizlet: Algebra and Functions

SAT Math Quizlet: Geometry and Measurement

SAT Math Quizlet: Data Analysis, Statistics and Probability Review

How is the SAT scored?

Each section (math, critical reading, and writing) is scored on a scale of 200 to 800, so the total score is from 600 to 2400. In detail, the method is this: For each section, your correct answers are added. Next, 0.25 points are subtracted for each incorrect multiple-choice answer, resulting in your “raw” score. Finally, a curve is applied to convert your raw score into a number from 200 to 800 for math and reading, and from 20 to 80 for writing. The curve corrects for the difficulty of the test compared to other SATs. For the writing section, your score on the multiple-choice questions (20 to 80) is combined with the score (2 to 12) on your essay to produce a final writing score (200 to 800). You can see how the most recent high school senior class (2014) scored on the SAT using the SAT composite score percentile ranks table. The average SAT scores for the senior class years since the writing section was introduced are:

Class Year Reading Mathematics Writing Combined
2006* 503 518 497 1518
2007 501 514 493 1508
2008 500 514 493 1507
2009 499 514 492 1506
2010 500 515 491 1506
2011 497 514 489 1500
2012 496 514 488 1498
2013 496 514 488 1498
2014 497 513 487 1497

 

Practice Problem Quizzes (From EriktheRed)

Currently, each practice test is one of three SAT exams. You can download them, with answers, directly from the College Board in PDF format, using the following links:

  • SAT January 2006
    (Same as Official SAT Practice Tests 2009-10, 2011-12, and 2013-14. Answers here.)
  • SAT October 2005
    (Same as Official SAT Practice Tests 2006-07, 2008-09, 2010-11, and 2012-13. Answers here.)
  • SAT March 2005
    (Same as Official SAT Practice Test 2007-08. Answers included.)

You could, for example, use a test in the beginning of your studies as a benchmark (or base) score, and then another near the end of your studies. However you use them, try to do so under test-like conditions: use a countdown timer (or have someone time you) in an area free of distractions, as you do each section (you don’t have to do an entire test all in one sitting, however)

How many can I miss? (From EriktheRed)

What is my SAT score if I got 3 wrong? How about 5 wrong? 10 wrong? 20 wrong?

The table below shows what you would score (on average) on math, critical reading, or writing for a given number of incorrect multiple choice answers:

Incorrect
Answers
Typical SAT Score
Math Reading Writing
0 800 800 80
1 780 800 78
2 760 800 75
3 720 770 71
4 710 760 69
5 690 740 68
6 680 730 66
7 660 700 64
8 660 690 63
9 650 680 61
10 640 670 60
11 620 650 58
12 610 640 57
13 600 640 56
14 590 630 55
15 580 610 54
16 570 610 53
17 560 600 52
18 550 590 51
19 530 580 49
20 530 570 48
21 520 560 47
22 510 560 46
23 490 550 45
24 490 540 44
25 480 530 43

The table above gives the scores that you would get for a given number of incorrect multiple choice answers on a typicalSAT; the scores you actually get will depend on the particular curve of the SAT that you took. (See Which is the best month to take the SAT? for more information about the curve.) Also, if some of the questions you got wrong were not multiple choice (i.e., wrong answers to “grid-in” math questions), your math score will be a little higher than shown above. For a list of SAT curves from previous tests, see the Released SAT Test Curves (pdf file). Also in that document are the tests arranged by month as well, for those of you trying to figure out which month has the easiest or hardest tests.

 

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