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What is the SAT?

The SATs are something every high schooler knows about, and you may have been planning (or dreading!) to take yours for years now. Whether you’ve been low-key studying for them since freshman year or they’ve just become a pressing reality, it’s time to hunker down and learn everything you can about this exam.

What Does SAT Stand For?

The SAT stands for Scholastic Aptitude Test. You may have heard about career aptitude tests, which ask you questions to assess your skills and capability of succeeding in a particular field. The SAT is similar – it demonstrates how well you’ve mastered school material as well as a variety of skills that lead to college success, including problem solving, analysis and reading.

How Long is the SAT?

The SAT test is divided into four categories:

  • Reading.
  • Writing.
  • Math – No Calculator & Calculator Sections.
  • Optional Essay.

The entire test lasts for three hours without the essay and three hours and 50 minutes with it.

SAT Reading Section

The reading portion of the SAT has a combination of 52 multiple-choice questions and different reading passages relating to historical documents, literature, social and natural sciences. The entire section lasts for 65 minutes.

SAT Writing

The writing and language portion of the SAT lasts for 35 minutes and will assess your grammar, range of vocabulary and usage as well as your editing skills. There will be 44 multiple-choice questions during this stage that will cover a variety of grammar and vocabulary topics. Knowing how to use big words is great, but it’s even more important to know how to choose the right word for a particular situation.

SAT Math Subjects

High school math classes help you prepare for the SAT math test, which includes algebra I & II, geometry as well as some trigonometry. There are a total of 58 multiple-choice questions (20 no-calculator questions and 38 that allow a calculator.)

The math section is the longest, lasting for a total of 80 minutes that are broken down into the following categories:

25 minutes for no-calculator questions.
55 minutes for the calculator-allowed section.
SAT Essay

The optional essay is required by 25 colleges and universities in the United States, so if you plan on applying to one of these schools on this list, you’ll have to take it. During the essay, you will have to read a passage analyze the author’s persuasive argument.

The essay has its own score that is separate from your final SAT test score. It will be graded based on reading, analysis and writing, and each section will be given a score ranging from two to eight. Taking the SAT essay isn’t mandatory for most schools, but it can demonstrate your ability to write at a college level.

When to Take the SAT

The SAT test dates change every year. You can find the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 test dates here.

Is the SAT Hard?

The SAT is a challenge, but it’s not impossible to pass. It’s important to prepare well ahead of time and make sure that you’re prepared. A professional SAT tutor from our team at can help you identify your strongest subjects and areas that need improvement. Together, you can do practice questions, brush up on your skills and gain the confidence you need to take the test and pass with a good score.