The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section is composed of two tests that assess different but related skills and knowledge. The first part is referred to as: "The Reading Test" which gives you a chance to show how well you understand what you read.
- Total questions: 52 passage-based reading questions with multiple-choice responses.
- Time allotted: 65 minutes.
- Calculators may not be used or be on your desk.
- All questions are worth one point regardless of the type or difficulty. You’re not penalized for guessing, so it’s to your advantage to answer each question as best you can.
- The questions often include line references to direct you to relevant part(s) of the passage(s).
When you take the Reading Test, you’ll read passages and interpret informational graphics. Then you’ll use what you’ve read to answer questions. Some questions ask you to locate a piece of information or an idea stated directly. But you’ll also need to understand what the author’s words or a graphic’s data imply.
What You'll Read:
To succeed in college and career, you’ll need to apply reading skills in all sorts of subjects. Not coincidentally, you’ll also need those skills to do well on the Reading Test. Reading Test passages range in length from about 500 to 750 words. The Reading Test always includes:
- One passage from a classic or contemporary work of U.S. or world literature.
- One passage or a pair of passages from either a U.S. founding document (such as an essay by James Madison) or a text in the Great Global Conversation (such as a speech by Nelson Mandela).
- One passage on a social science topic from a field such as economics, psychology, or sociology.
- Two science passages (or one passage and one passage pair) that examine foundational concepts or recent developments in Earth science, biology, chemistry, or physics.
Question Types & Context:
The Reading Test has several different types of questions. Some questions ask you to:
- Find evidence in a passage (or pair of passages) that best supports the answer to a previous question or serves as the basis for a reasonable conclusion.
- Identify how authors use evidence to support their claims.
- Locate or interpret data in an informational graphic, or understand a relationship between a graphic and the passage it’s paired with.
Some questions focus on important, widely used words and phrases that you’ll find in texts in many different subjects. The words and phrases are ones that you’ll use in college and the workplace long after test day. The SAT focuses on your ability to:
- Figure out the meaning of words or phrases in context.
- Decide how an author’s word choice shapes meaning, style, and tone.
writing and language test
The second part of the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section is referred to as: "The Writing and Language Test" which asks you to be an
editor and improve passages that were written especially for the test—and that include deliberate errors.
- Total questions: 44 passage-based questions with multiple-choice responses.
- Time allotted: 35 minutes.
- Calculators may not be used or be on your desk.
- Remember that all questions are worth one point regardless of the type or difficulty. You’re not penalized for incorrect guesses.
When you take the Writing and Language Test, you’ll do things that people do all the time when they write and edit: read, find mistakes and weaknesses, and fix them. The good news is you do these things every time you revise and edit your own schoolwork or workshop essays with a friend.
To answer some questions, you’ll need to look closely at a single sentence. Others require thinking about the entire piece or interpreting a graphic. For instance, you might be asked to choose where a sentence should be placed or to correct a misinterpretation of a scientific chart.
What You'll Read:
The passages you’ll read will be informative/explanatory texts, nonfiction narratives, or arguments about careers, history/social studies, the humanities, and science. You’ll want to read passages carefully so you can make editorial decisions that improve them.
Question Types & Context:
It’s worth keeping in mind the following facts about the test - All questions are multiple choice and based on passages Some passages are accompanied by informational graphics, such as tables, graphs, and charts—but no math is required. Prior topic knowledge is never tested.
- Command of Evidence: they ask you to improve the way passages develop information and ideas. For instance, you might choose an answer that sharpens an argumentative claim or adds a relevant supporting detail.
- Words in Context: they ask you to improve word choice. You’ll need to choose the best words to use based on the text surrounding them. Your goal will be to make a passage more precise or concise or to improve syntax, style, or tone.
- Analysis in History/Social Studies and in Science: they ask you to read passages about topics in history/ social studies and science and to make editorial decisions that improve the passages (such as revising a paragraph to be more consistent with the data presented in an informational graphic).
- Expression of Ideas: They ask about a passage’s topic development, organization, and effective language use and impact. For instance, you’ll be asked which words or structural changes improve how well a point is made and how well the sentences and paragraphs work together.
- Standard English Conventions: They ask questions that relate to the building blocks of writing: sentence structure, usage, and punctuation. You’ll be asked to change words, clauses, sentences, and punctuation
The SAT Math Test covers math practices, emphasizing problem solving, modeling, using tools strategically, and using algebraic structure. The questions test your ability to solve problems and use appropriate approaches and tools strategically. It includes a portion that allows the use of a calculator and a portion that does not.
- Total questions: 58 (20 questions on the no-calculator portion; 38 questions on the calculator portion).
- 45 standard multiple-choice questions.
- 13 student-produced response questions.
- Time allotted for Math Test – No Calculator: 25 minutes.
- Time allotted for Math Test – Calculator: 55 minutes.
The Math Test is a chance to show that you:
- Fluency: Carry out procedures flexibly, accurately, efficiently, and strategically. Solve problems quickly by identifying and using the most efficient solution approaches. This might involve solving a problem by inspection, finding a shortcut, or reorganizing the information you’ve been given.
- Conceptual Understanding: You’ll demonstrate your grasp of math concepts, operations, and relations. For instance, you might be asked to make connections between properties of linear equations, their graphs, and the contexts they represent.
- Applications: Some real-world problems ask you to analyze a situation, determine the essential elements required to solve the problem, represent the problem mathematically, and carry out a solution.
What You'll See:
Instead of testing you on every math topic, the SAT asks you to use the math that you’ll rely on most in all sorts of situations. Questions on the Math Test are designed to mirror the problem solving and modeling you’ll do in: College math, science, and social science courses; Jobs that you hold and your personal life.
For instance, to answer some questions you’ll need to use several steps because in the real world, a single calculation is rarely enough to get the job done.
- Most math questions will be multiple choice, but some—called student-produced responses—ask you to come up with the answer rather than select the answer.
- Some parts of the test include several questions about a single scenario.
Test Tips & Question Types:
An important part of the test is how to prepare for the calculator and non-calculator portions. First - be smart about your equipment. Bring your own calculator (you can't share), don't bring a calculator you never had experience with before, use scratch work in the test booklet before using your calculator, and make sure your calculator works (and has fresh batteries).
Acceptable Calculators = Only battery-operated, handheld equipment can be used for testing. No power cords are allowed. These can be used:
- Most graphing calculators.
- All scientific calculators that don’t have the unacceptable features listed here.
- All four-function calculators (not recommended).
Unacceptable Calculators = You’re not allowed to use any of the following items as a calculator (unless approved as an accommodation):
- Tablets, laptops, notebooks, or any other personal computing devices, including wearable technology
- Models that can access the internet, have wireless, Bluetooth, cellular, audio/video recording and playing, camera, or any other smartphone-type feature
- Models that have QWERTY (typewriter-like) keypad, pen-input, or stylus
- Models that use electrical outlets, make noise, or have a paper tape (unless approved by the College Board as an accommodation). In addition, the use of hardware peripherals such as a stylus with an approved calculator is not permitted. Some models with touch-screen capability are not permitted (e.g., Casio ClassPad).
You’ll see directions in the test book for answering student-response questions. Take the time to be comfortable with the format before test day. Here are some important points:
- Mark no more than one bubble in any column.
- Only answers indicated by filling in the bubble will be scored (you won’t receive credit for anything written in the boxes located above the bubbles).
- It doesn’t matter in which column you begin entering your answer. As long as the correct response is recorded within the grid area, you’ll receive credit.
- The grid can hold only four characters and can only accommodate positive numbers and zero.
- Unless a problem indicates otherwise, answers can be entered on the grid as a decimal or a fraction.
- Fractions like 3/24 do not need to be reduced to their lowest terms.
- All mixed numbers need to be converted to decimals or improper fractions before being recorded in the grid.
- If the answer is a repeating decimal, you must grid the most accurate truncated or rounded value the grid will accommodate.
The SAT Essay is a lot like a typical college writing assignment for which you’re asked to analyze a text. Take the SAT with Essay and show colleges that you’re able to read, analyze, and write at the college level.
Total questions: 1 prompt, with points to consider and directions
- 1 passage.
- Time allotted: 50 minutes to read and analyze the passage and to develop a written response.
The SAT Essay shows how well you understand the passage and use it as the basis for a well-written, well thought-out response.
Your essay will be scored on three dimensions, each on a 2–8 scale:
- Reading: A successful essay shows that you understood the passage, including the interplay of central ideas and important details. It also shows effective use of textual evidence.
- Analysis: A successful essay shows your understanding of how the author builds an argument by:
- Examining the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive techniques (or other elements of your choosing).
- Supporting your claims and points effectively.
- Focusing on those features of the passage that are most relevant for completing the task.
- Writing: A successful essay is cohesive, organized, and precise, uses an appropriate style and tone, has varied sentences, and observes the conventions of standard written English.
What You'll See:
The SAT Essay asks you to use your reading, analysis, and writing skills. You’ll be asked to:
- Read a passage.
- Explain how the author builds an argument to persuade an audience.
- Support your explanation with evidence from the passage.
Question & Passage:
This following prompt will be nearly identical to the one that will appear on the SAT Essay Test:
As you read the passage below, consider how [the author] uses:
- Evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.
- Reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.
- Stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.
Write an essay in which you explain how [the author] builds an argument to persuade [his/her] audience that [author’s claim]. In your essay, analyze how [the author] uses one or more of the features listed above (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of [his/her] argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage. Your essay should not explain whether you agree with [the author’s] claims, but rather explain how [the author] builds an argument to persuade [his/her] audience.
You can count on receiving the same prompt no matter when you take the SAT with Essay, but the passage will be different every time. All passages have these things in common:
- Are written for a broad audience.
- Argue a point.
- Express subtle views on complex subjects.
- Use logical reasoning and evidence to support claims.
- Examine ideas, debates, or trends in the arts and sciences or in civic, cultural, or political life.
- Are always taken from published works.
All the information you need to write your essay will be included in the passage or in notes about it.
Last Minute Tips:
When you register for the SAT, you should consider carefully whether to choose the optional SAT Essay or not. It’s a good idea to check the policies of the institutions you’re interested in at sat.org/register (select “College SAT Essay Policies”) to see if they require it for admission.
If you change your mind, you might be able to change from the SAT to SAT with Essay (or the reverse) on test day. Changes to the Essay Option on Test Day:
- Must be requested at check-in. Students requesting a change will be seated after the other registered students, but before wait-list students, on a first-come, first-served basis, if materials and space allow.
- Aren’t guaranteed and will be made at the discretion of the test center staff at check-in. Changes may be declined by test center staff for various reasons, including lack of sufficient materials, staff, or seats to accommodate the change.
- Aren’t available to wait-list students or test takers 21 and over.
- May not be permitted in certain test centers—see sat.org/international for details.
- Can’t be made after you’re checked in and assigned a room. If you try to change your essay option after check-in, you’ll be dismissed from the center and your scores will be canceled.
guidelines to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)
Use these guidelines as you take your seat in the test room:
- Plan ahead and bring equipment that’s in good working order. Test center staff won’t have extra batteries or calculators.
- When marking answers:
- Use a No. 2 pencil with a soft eraser on all parts of the answer sheet. Do not use a pen or mechanical pencil.
- Make sure you fill in the entire bubble darkly and completely.
- Erase any changes you make as completely as possible.
- On the SAT, there’s no penalty for guessing; you simply earn points for the questions you answer correctly. Try to give your best answer to every question—there’s no advantage to leaving them blank.
- Use a watch to time yourself—no separate timers or alarms are allowed, as they distract other test takers. Choose a watch that doesn’t have advanced communication or recording features (these are not allowed and will be collected from you in the testing room).
- Don’t skip sections, and don’t leave your answer sheet blank. Doing this could result in score cancellation and/or delays.
- If you’ve chosen to take the optional SAT Essay and decide not to write the essay, your official score report will include an SAT Essay score of zero. Also, if you leave the room before testing ends, your scores will be canceled.
- Store any snacks you bring out of sight in your backpack or a paper bag. You may only eat snacks during breaks. The testing staff will tell you where you can go to have your snack.
- Keep your ID and admission ticket with you at all times, especially if you leave the testing room. You may be asked to show your ID or admission ticket at any time while in the test center. Don’t write on the admission ticket.