3 major sections that SAT consists of

Exam: Test Prep SAT Test - Scholastic Assessment Test: Reading, Writing and Language, Mathematics


The three major sections of the SAT are the critical thinking section, mathematics section and writing section. Each of these sections receives scores on the scale of 200 – 800. Every section also has an Experimental section, which the administration uses to normalize future questions of SAT.  The experimental section does not count towards the final scores, which are always determined by adding up scores of the three sections.

The critical reading sections

The sections test your ability to read and understand English of that level you need the most for a university course. It has two types of questions:

  • Reading comprehension/ passage-based  and
  • Sentence completion

The questions require only a little level of vocabulary, which is not a problem if you have been reading a variety of books in high school. If English is your second language, do not worry because you can still raise your English to the desired level. There are two types of questions:

Passage based questions

It involves two sections that require 25 minutes each, and another section that require 20 minutes. The section consists of 48 questions.

The passage-based questions come from four different categories, which are the Humanities, Social sciences, Literacy fiction and Natural science.

Passage based questions often have line numbers referenced in the questions, for examples the

  • Range in length from 100 words to 850 words
  • Having  a narrative and argumentative elements
  • Being paired with related passage on shared theme

The questions require students to determine the meaning of some words in the context, show their understanding to that directly stated information including those main ideas, be able to evaluate the author’s assumptions and techniques, and lastly be in a position to synthesize and analyze information including:

  • Making inferences
  • Understanding the logic of arguments and
  • Identifying cause and effects

Sentence completion

It contains two sections that require 25 minute each and a section requiring 20 minutes to complete.  The section contains 19 questions. Each question is a sentence with gaps that students are supposed to fill. Therefore, as a student you are should choose a word that completes the sentence without changing the meaning of that sentence. The section of the test measures students’ knowledge to interpret the meaning of words and to understand how different parts of a sentence fit together logically.

Writing section

SAT writing section consists of questions in two formats: The essay and multiple-choice questions.

The essay is a single question that requires 25 minutes to complete. The multiple-choice section has 49 questions and requires 35 minutes to complete. However, there are two parts of the multiple-choice section; one requires 25 minutes while the other requires 10 minutes to complete.

The writing section, therefore, consists of 50 questions and requires one hour to complete.

SAT essay

It is always the first question, and students should respond to the question by writing an essay within 25 minutes. It is a measure of student’s ability to;

  • Develop a point of view on the issue presented in the excerpt
  • Use their reasoning and the examples from their reading and studies experience to give out a supportive point of view on the content.
  • Ability to follow conventions of the standard written English

A sample prompt or assignment—a quotation of not more than 80 words concerning a carefully chosen issue— is availed to the students. The sample should:

  • Enable student to react and respond quickly in a variety of ways
  • Be free of technical or specific literacy reference
  • Be easily accessible to the general test-taking population including, those students whom English is a second language.

Multiple choice writing questions

The multiple-choice section is further split into three parts. Each part has a different number of questions.  The first part is the “improving sentences content” with 25 questions.  The second part is the “identifying sentence errors” and has 18 questions. The final and third part is the “improving paragraphs content” with six questions. Below is a detailed explanation of three different parts.

1.  Improving sentences

The questions in this case have sentences with underlined part, followed by five choices of phrasing to replace the underlined part. The questions measure student’s ability to:

  • Recognize and correct grammatical errors in a sentence
  • Recognize those effective sentences that have followed the conventions of Standard Written English (SWE). 

2. Identifying sentence error

Questions here presents four underlined portions in which a student is asked to identify which of the underlined part represents grammatical errors. It’s used to measure student’s ability to:

  • Recognize errors in grammar and usage
  • Recognize effective sentence that follows conventions of SWE.

Improving paragraphs

This part requires the students to read a passage and answer some questions derived from the passage. These questions measure the ability of student to :

  • Edit and revise sentences in the entire essay.
  • Organize and develop a paragraph in a logical and coherent manner.

Mathematics section

The SAT math section tests the basic standard that should be within the reach of tenth-grade student. As a student, you should not concentrate too much on the formulae but you to sharpen your thinking skills. The section has two formats; the multiple choice format having 44 questions and student-produced response format having 10 questions. Time limit in both formats is two 25-minute section and one 20-minute section.

Mathematical questions fall under four general categories, and they are:

Numbers and operations content which tests arithmetic word problems, integer’s properties, sets and many others.

Algebra and functions questions address substitution and simplifying algebraic expressions, inequalities and quadratic equations, direct and inverse variation and many others.

Geometry measurement questions address the areas and perimeter of a polygon, coordination geometry similarities and many other areas.

Data analysis, probability and statistical concept that address the following:-

  • Data interpretation (graphs and tables)
  • Probability
  • Descriptive statistics (mode, mean and median)

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