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SAT

How many questions are on the SAT?

Written by Shefali Sundram

Updated on: 04 Mar 2024

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  • The SAT format includes 154 multiple-choice questions.
  • The SAT comprises 3 sections: Reading, Writing, and Math.

Before appearing for the SAT, it is better to know the format and content quality in advance. One should always know what to expect on the SAT to manage your time.

Apart from knowing what books to consider and following a schedule, it is also necessary to know the question paper pattern.

In this article, you will find out about the questions on the SAT, how many points each question is worth and the different sections, etc. 

What are the sections of the SAT? 

SectionNumber of questionsTimeWhat is included 
Reading5265 MinutesPassages or pairs of passages (literature, historical documents, social sciences, and natural sciences)
Writing & Language4435 MinutesGrammar, vocabulary in context, and editing skills
Math 5880 MinutesAlgebra I and II, geometry, and some trigonometry
TOTAL154180 MinutesN/A
Sections of SAT

Reading section

The reading section is the first section which has five passages with ten questions. It includes complex reading passages to test critical reading and thinking skills.

The reading section tests your two essential skills:

  • The ability to pick up specific examples from the passage that back up the author’s claim.
  • The ability to figure out what words mean in the context of the whole passage.

The main component of the SAT passage will be:

  • Main concepts or idea
  • Inferences
  • Supporting Evidence
  • Author’s intent or purpose

Types of questions in the SAT reading section

Types of questionsFocus 
Author’s use of evidenceIdentifying the part of a passage that supports a point the author is making.
Find a relationship between an informational graphic and the passage.
Understanding words in context Includes the questions in which you need to use the context clues in a passage to figure out the meaning of a word or phrase being used.
Analysis in History, Social Science and  Science Includes questions in which you need to examine hypotheses, interpret data, and consider implications.
Types of questions in SAT reading section

Example question for the SAT reading section

This passage is adapted from “Numbers Encouraging, but Shark Bites Still Problematic for Sea Otter Recovery.” Published in 2015 by US Geological Survey.

The recovery of southern sea otters appears to have taken an upturn, according to results from the annual California sea otter survey released by the U.S. Geological Survey. Yet despite an overall increase in sea otter abundance, sharks have been “taking a bite” out of the portion of the population that could fuel expansion into new areas.

“There’s much more to the story here than the main finding would suggest,” said Dr. Tim Tinker, a research ecologist who leads the USGS sea otter research program. “We are looking into various factors that may be affecting the survey results, including a boom in urchin abundance from Big Sur to Monterey that may explain the uptick in numbers in the range center and high levels of shark bite mortality that are likely responsible for continued declines at the north and south ends of the range.”

This year’s survey results suggest an increasing trend over the last five years of almost 2 percent per year and the population index, a statistical representation of the entire population calculated as the three-year running average of census counts, has climbed to 3,054 from 2,711 in 2010. The growth is accounted for by an unexpected jump in numbers in the center of the sea otter’s range, an area that spans from Monterey south to Cambria.

While the population index continues to trend upward, the northern and southern subsets of the population continue a five-year decline, dropping 2 percent and 3.4 percent per year, respectively, numbers consistent with increased shark bite-induced mortality in these same areas.

Since the 1980s, USGS scientists have computed the annual population index and evaluated trends in the southern sea otter, “Enhydra lutris nereis,” a federally listed threatened species found in California. For southern sea otters to be considered for removal from threatened species listing under the Endangered Species Act, the population index would have to exceed 3,090 for three consecutive years.

The lines on the graph represent the 3-year running average of the southern sea otter population in the north, central, and south coastal regions.

Based on the passage and the graph, what can reasonably be inferred about predatory shark activity in the south region?

  1. It steadily decreased between 2000 and 2003.
  2. It affected otters at a consistent rate between 2003 and 2006.
  3. It was more of a threat to sea otters in 2003 than in 2009.
  4. It was at its highest level in 2009.

Source: College Board, Khan Academy

Writing and language section

The writing section is the second section on SAT. It focuses on identifying and fixing the mistakes in the passages. This section has 44 multiple-choice questions, allowing 35 minutes to answer them.

The writing section focuses on these abilities:

  • Evidence-based reasoning
  • Expression of ideas 
  • Using words in context
  • Standard English etiquette

Types of questions in the SAT writing section

Types of questions Focus
Development QuestionsFocus on topic sentences and thesis statements.
Organization QuestionsFocus on logical sequence and proper sentence structure. 
Effective Language Use QuestionsFocus on correcting text by eliminating wordiness or combining sentences to improve the flow.
Grammar & Mechanics QuestionsFocus on correcting errors like incomplete sentences, punctuation, or usage agreement
Types of questions in SAT Writing and Language section

Example question for the writing and language section

Directions

Review the passage below and make the best choice for the highlighted portion. After reading the passage, choose the answer to the question that most effectively improves the quality of writing in the passage or that makes the passage conform to the conventions of standard written English. Sometimes the question will include a “No change” option. Choose that option if you think the best choice is to leave the highlighted portion of the passage as it is.

Passage

A subway system is expanded to provide service to a growing suburb. A bike-sharing program is adopted to encourage nonmotorized transportation. To alleviate rush hour traffic jams in a congested downtown area, stoplight timing is coordinated. When any one of these changes occur, it is likely the result of careful analysis conducted by transportation planners.

The work of transportation planners generally includes evaluating current transportation needs, assessing the effectiveness of existing facilities, and improving those facilities or they design new ones. Most transportation planners work in or near cities, but some are employed in rural areas. Say, for example, a large factory is built on the outskirts of a small town. Traffic to and from that location would increase at the beginning and end of work shifts. The transportation planner’s job, might involve conducting a traffic count to determine the daily number of vehicles traveling on the road to the new factory.

Which choice best maintains the sentence pattern already established in the paragraph?

  1. No change
  2. planner’s job
  3. planners job,
  4. planners job

Source: College Board, Khan Academy

Math section

The math section is divided into two sections without a calculator and the second with a calculator. The math section is not entirely multiple-choice. Some of the questions have grid-in questions that are like fill in the blank. 

The section in total has 58 questions which you need to answer in 80 minutes. Math without a calculator has 20 questions to answer in 25 minutes, and math with a calculator has 38 questions to answer in 55 minutes

Type of question in the SAT math section

Types Of Questions Focus
Algebra QuestionsIncludes linear–linear equations, linear graphing, linear function, and linear inequalities.
Problem Solving & Data Analysis QuestionsFocuses on statistical surveys, rates, ratios, models, and data in tables.
Passport to Advanced Math Questions
It includes things like algebra without exponents and non-linear graphs and functions.
Additional Topics QuestionsIncludes geometry, trigonometry, and complex numbers. 
Types of questions in SAT Math section

Example question for the math section

Example 1

Maria is staying at a hotel that charges $99.95 per night plus tax for a room. A tax of 8% is applied to the room rate, and an additional one-time untaxed fee of $5.00 is charged by the hotel. Which of the following represents Maria’s total charge, in dollars, for staying x nights?

  1. (99.95 + 0.08x) + 5
  2. 1.08(99.95x) + 5
  3. 1.08(99.95x + 5)
  4. 1.08(99.95 + 5)x

Example 2:

A researcher wanted to know if there is an association between exercise and sleep for the population of 16-year-olds in the United States. She obtained survey responses from a random sample of 2000 United States 16-year-olds and found convincing evidence of a positive association between exercise and sleep. Which of the following conclusions is well supported by the data?

  1. There is a positive association between exercise and sleep for 16-year-olds in the United States.
  2. There is a positive association between exercise and sleep for 16-year-olds in the world.
  3. Using exercise and sleep as defined by the study, an increase in sleep is caused by an increase in exercise for 16-year-olds in the United States.
  4. Using exercise and sleep as defined by the study, an increase in sleep is caused by an increase in exercise for 16-year-olds in the world.

Source: College Board, Khan Academy

Conclusion

The SAT consists of three main sections Reading, Writing and Language, and Math. The SAT includes a total of 154 questions with a time limit of 180 minutes.

It is a good idea to acquaint yourself with the questions covered in each section. It can help you to prepare for the exam and manage your time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Where can you find high-quality sat practice tests?

The College Board offers eight official practice tests on its website. It also offers The College Board Blue Book or The Official SAT Study Guide.

These SAT practice tests are the closest thing to the real test.

How many questions can you miss to get 1500?

The SAT score range is from 400 to 1600. So, you don’t have to get all the answers right to score a 1500 SAT score.

You need to answer 144 questions out of 154. In reading sections 48 out of 52 right. Writing and language section 41 out of 44 right and in the math section 55 out of 58 right.

Is 4 SAT attempts too much?

It does not hurt to take the SAT multiple times. Colleges cannot see how many times you have taken the test.

College Board recommends that students should take it at least twice. First in the spring of their junior year and then in the fall of their senior year. Most students score higher the second time.

References

  1. The Princeton Review-SAT Sections. (n.d). Retrieved 26th May 2023, from https://www.princetonreview.com/college/sat-sections
  2.  College Board- What’s on the SAT? – SAT Suite. (n.d). Retrieved 26th May 2023, from https://satsuite.collegeboard.org/sat/whats-on-the-test
  3. Test Geek Blog-How Many Questions are on the SAT?. (n.d). Retrieved 26th May 2023, from https://www.testgeek.com/blog/how-many-questions-are-on-the-sat/
  4. Turito-How Many SAT Sections And Question Does It Have?. (n.d). Retrieved 26th May,2023, from https://www.turito.com/blog/sat/how-many-questions-are-on-the-sat

Written by

Shefali Sundram

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