About SAT

The SAT is a nationally administered, standardized paper-and-pencil test that helps colleges and universities evaluate candidates.

Generally, your son or daughter will take the SAT for the first time in the spring of their junior year. This allows enough time to retake the test during the fall of their senior year if there is dissatisfaction with the initial score.

SAT Format

The SAT is a 3-hour and 50-minute exam, consisting of five sections: Reading, Writing, Math (with calculator), Math (without calculator) and Essay (50 minutes, optional).

SAT Test Section # of Questions and Types Content Timing

Evidence-based Reading & Writing


52 standard multiple-choice


44 standard multiple-choice

  • Relevant words in context (Reading and Writing)

  • Command of evidence (Reading and Writing)

  • Expression of ideas (Writing)

  • Standard English conventions (Writing)

100 minutes


One 65-minute section


One 35-minute section


45 standard multiple-choice

  • The heart of algebra

  • Passport to advanced math

  • Problem solving & data analysis

80 minutes

One 25-minute section (no calculator)

One 55-minute section (calculator allowed)

Essay (optional)

1 evidence-based essay

  • Analyzing a source

50 minutes

One 50-minute essay

SAT Scoring/Guessing Penalty

The College Board will no longer deduct points for an incorrect answer. This means that a student should not leave any questions blank on the test. Even if there is indecision regarding the correct answer to a test question, we encourage students to use their best judgement in making a selection. There is always a chance that the answer could be accurate and there is no penalty if it is wrong. With the longer sections pacing and timing are critical. Ramana Coaching Center tutors will help students master this area.

The SAT scoring model provides a detailed analysis and breakdown of students’ scores. Area scores, each tallied out of 800, are combined to create a composite score for a maximum possible total of 1600. For a more detailed breakdown of what each score means, please see the table below.

Score Type Score Range Details
Total Score
  • Total Score
  • Sum of the two section scores
Section Scores
  • Evidence-based Reading & Writing
  • Math
  • The Evidence-based reading and writing score is the sum of the Reading test score and Writing & Language test score
Test Scores
  • Reading
  • Writing & Language
  • Math
  • These scores indicate performance on individual test sections
Essay (optional)
  • Reading, Analysis and Writing
  • The essay is scored in three categories
  • Each category is scored from 2-8
Cross-Test Scores
  • History/Social Studies
  • Science
  • These scores show how well skills are used to analyze texts and solve problems in these subject areas
  • Questions may span different test sections
  • Relevant words in context (R, W&L)
  • Command of evidence (R, W&L)
  • Expression of ideas (W&L)
  • Standard English conventions (W&L)
  • Passport to advanced mathematics (M)
  • Problem solving & data analysis (M)
  • The heart of algebra (M)
  • These 7 subscores will disclose to students how they did on specific question types or content
  • Some subscores pull questions from multiple tests
  • W&L – Writing & Language test
  • M – Math test
  • R – Reading test