The SAT Reasoning Test, formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, is a commonly used admission test for entry into colleges and universities in the United States. It was first called the Scholastic Aptitude Test, then the Scholastic Assessment Test, but now it is simply referred to as the SAT (ES-AY-Tee).


The test consists of three sections:

    • Critical Reading: The Critical Reading section is designed on the framework of a verbal test. It comprises of three sections – two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section. The first part of the test is made up of sentence completion questions followed by reading passages. The sentence completion questions aim at testing the candidate’s lexical knowledge (vocabulary) and also knowledge of sentence structure and organization. In the tasks involving reading passages, the students read excerpts on various topics and answer questions based on the text.
    • Mathematics: This section is also known as the Quantitative or Calculation Section. This part of the test also comprises of three sections: two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section and the questions are based on arithmetic operations, algebra, geometry, statistics and probability.

      The first 25-minute section consists of 20 multiple choice questions.

      The second 25-minute section consists of 8 multiple-choice questions and 10 grid-in questions.

      The last 20-minute section is all multiple choice and contains 16 questions.

      All multiple-choice questions have five answer choices, one of which is correct. In the 10 grid-in questions, the candidate is required to bubble in a number in a four-column grid. There is no negative marking for incorrect grid-in answers.

  • Writing: This section of the SAT includes questions based on multiple-choice and a brief essay. The multiple choice questions are based on error identification, sentence improvement and paragraph improvement. Error identification and sentence improvement questions are aimed at gauging a candidate’s knowledge of grammar and sentence structure. The paragraph improvement questions are designed to test the student’s ability to arrange a given piece of text in a logical and cohesive manner.

    In the second section, the student is required to write a brief essay based on a prompt given to them. The prompts are usually general and broad so as to allow all students, regardless of their social and educational background, to be able to provide their thoughts and ideas on the topic.

The SAT Reasoning Test costs $49 ($78 International) and is available seven times a year in the United States- in October, November, December, January, March (or April, alternating), May, and June.


SAT scores are reported on a scale from 200-800, with additional sub scores reported for the essay (ranging from 2-12) and for multiple-choice writing questions (on a 20-80 scale). Most schools look at the combination of high school grades and SAT scores as a good indicator of a student’s academic success in college.