SAT Scores: About the SAT

By Peterson's Staff updated on Monday, February 23, 2015

Overview of SAT testing

The SAT is a standard college entrance exam that measures skills in math, reading, and writing. The first section is always a written essay, which takes 25 minutes, and the last section is always a multiple-choice writing section, which takes 10 minutes. The other parts of the test — six 25-minute sections and two 20-minute sections — can appear in any order. One of the 25-minute sections (you won't know which) will not count toward your score; it is used to try out questions for future SAT testing. Total test time is 3 hours and 45 minutes.

The SAT Critical Reading sections present you with reading comprehension questions about full-length and paragraph-length passages. They also include sentence completions.

The SAT Writing sections include multiple-choice questions on grammar, usage, word choice, and organization. The essay section asks you to respond to a prompt by developing a point of view supported by clear, well-organized ideas based on your experience and observations.

The SAT Math sections include multiple-choice questions and grid-in questions, which require you to generate a response. Topics include: numbers and operations; algebra and functions; geometry and measurement; and statistics, probability, and data analysis.

SAT scores

Each section (Critical Reading, Writing, and Math) is scored on a scale of 200 to 800. Essays, a sub-section of Writing, are graded on a scale of 2 to 12. Overall SAT scores can range from 600 to 2400.

The quickest and most efficient way to increase your SAT scores is SAT prep. Through SAT test prep, you'll learn strategies to increase your score, and you will also be able to identify weaknesses and target them for improvement. You can find good SAT prep here at Peterson's, with our free online SAT practice test.

SAT help: Test locations

Check with your guidance counselor or contact the College Board to find out where you can take the test.

SAT help: Test dates

Test dates and deadlines for this year can be found on the official SAT webpage.

SAT help: Test structure

Critical Reading
Question Type Number of Questions
Sentence Completions 19
Passage-Based Reading 48
Time Allotted: Two 25-minute sections; one 20-minute section Total: 70 minutes
Question Type Number of Questions
Identifying Sentence Errors 18
Improving Sentences 25
Improving Paragraphs 6
Essay Writing 1 essay
Time Allotted: Two 25-minute sections; one 10-minute section Total: 60 minutes
Question Type Number of Questions
First multiple-choice 20
Grid-Ins & Multiple Choice 18 (10 grid-in and 8 multiple choice)
Final multiple choice section 16
Time Allotted: Two 25-minute sections; one 20-minute section Total: 70 minutes
About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

More articles by this author
Find a college that's right for you!
1Choose a state

2Choose a major
3Choose a degree type

Colleges you might like...

Forgot Your Password?

To reset your password, simply enter your email address in the field below and click the Reset Password button. You will receive an email with a link and instructions to reset your password.

Check your email.

Please check your email and click on the link provided in the message to reset your password.