What is the SAT?
Many colleges require scores from the SAT or ACT tests as a part of the admissions process. Your SAT score is a key component of your college applications.
SAT Length3 hours (plus 50 minutes if taking optional Essay)
Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
SAT Cost$46 ($60 if taking SAT with Essay)
Highest SAT Score1600
Average SAT Score1060
About the SAT
The SAT is an entrance exam used by most colleges and universities to make admissions decisions. The SAT is a multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper test created and administered by the College Board.
The purpose of the SAT is to measure a high school student's readiness for college, and provide colleges with one common data point that can be used to compare all applicants. College admissions officers will review standardized test scores alongside your high school GPA, the classes you took in high school, letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors, extracurricular activities, admissions interviews, and personal essays. How important SAT scores are in the college application process varies from school to school.
Overall, the higher you score on the SAT and/or ACT, the more options for attending and paying for college will be available to you.
When should I take the SAT?
Most high school students take the SAT, the ACT, or both during the spring of their junior year or fall of their senior year. It's important to leave time to re-take the test if you need to raise your score before you apply to college. The SAT exam is offered nationally every year in August, October, November, December, March, May, and June. View all upcoming SAT test dates.
What is on the SAT?
There are two SAT sections:
Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
The SAT also includes an optional Essay section. SAT Essay scores are reported separately from overall test scores. Some colleges may require that you complete the SAT Essay. You can confirm each college's admissions policies on the school website or on our school profiles.
How long is the SAT?
The SAT is 3 hours long. If you choose to take the SAT with Essay, the test will be 3 hours and 50 minutes.
How is the SAT scored?
Each section of the SAT is scored on a 200 to 800 point scale. Your total SAT score is the sum of your section scores. The highest possible SAT score is 1600. If you take the Essay, you will receive a separate score.
Should I take the SAT or the ACT?
Most colleges and universities will accept scores from either the SAT or ACT, and do not favor one test over the other. That said, college-bound students are increasingly taking both the SAT and ACT. Changes made to the SAT in 2016 have made it easier than ever to prep for both tests concurrently—and earn competitive scores on both! The best way to decide if taking the SAT, ACT, or both tests is right for you is to take a timed full-length practice test of each type. Since the content and style of the SAT and ACT are very similar, factors like how you handle time pressure and what types of questions you find most challenging can help you determine which test is a better fit. Try our QUIZ: SAT, ACT, or Both? to learn more.
How do I register for the SAT?
SAT registration deadlines fall approximately five weeks before each test date. Register online on the College Board website. The College Board may require SAT registration by mail under special circumstances.
How can I prep for the SAT?
We can help. We have SAT prep solutions for every student and every budget.
Digital SAT Content Alignment: Overview
The digital SAT Suite uses multistage adaptive testing (MST). Relying on MST means the digital SAT Suite fairly and accurately measures the same things with a shorter, more highly secure test while preserving test reliability.
Each assessment in the digital SAT Suite has two sections: the Reading and Writing section and the Math section. In every assessment in the SAT Suite, including the SAT, students have 64 minutes to complete the Reading and Writing section and 70 minutes to complete the Math section. Each Reading and Writing module lasts 32 minutes, while each Math module lasts 35 minutes. When students complete the Reading and Writing section, they are moved to the Math section after a 10-minute break between the sections.
Total testing time for the digital SAT Suite is 2 hours and 14 minutes for each assessment (SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, and PSAT 8/9).
Both the Reading and Writing and the Math sections are divided into two equal-length and separately timed stages, each composed of a module of questions. Students can move backward and forward among questions in each module before time runs out. When time runs out on the first module of each section, the test delivery platform moves students to the second module. The first module contains a broad mix of easy, medium, and hard questions. Based on how students perform on the first module, the second module of questions will either be more difficult or less difficult.
Reading and Writing Section Question Distribution
Questions on the Reading and Writing section represent one of four content domains, shown in the table below. Questions that test similar skills and knowledge are grouped together and arranged from easiest to hardest.
Content DomainSkill/Knowledge Testing PointsOperational Question Distribution
Craft and Structure
Words in Context
Text Structure and Purpose
~28%Information and Ideas
Central Ideas and Details
Command of Evidence (Textual, Quantitative)
~26%Standard English Conventions
Form, Structure, and Sense
~26%Expression of Ideas
The first two domains—Craft and Structure and Information and Ideas—primarily address reading-related skills and knowledge, while the second two domains—Standard English Conventions and Expression of Ideas—primarily address writing-related skills and knowledge.
Content Domains for SAT For Reading and Writing
1. Information and Ideas
1.1 Central Ideas and Details
1.3 Command of Evidence (Textual and Quantitative)
2. Craft and Structure
2.1 Words in Context
2.2 Text Structure and Purpose
2.3 Cross-Text Connections
3. Expression of Ideas
3.1 Rhetorical Synthesis
4. Standard English Conventions
4.2 Form, Structure, and Sense