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
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:
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:
|Typical SAT Score|
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.