SAT Test Description

SAT Reading Test (5 passage sets, 52 multiple-choice items, 65 minutes)


  • A defined range of text complexity from grades 9–10 to postsecondary entry
  • U.S. and world literature, history/social studies (U.S. founding documents and the Great Global Conversation; social science), science
  • One pair of related passages and two passage sets accompanied by informational graphics
Information and Ideas (21–26 items)
  • Reading closely
  • Citing textual evidence
  • Determining central ideas and themes
  • Summarizing
  • Understanding relationships
  • Interpreting words and phrases in context
Rhetoric (10–16 items)
  • Analyzing word choice
  • Analyzing text structure
  • Analyzing point of view
  • Analyzing purpose
  • Analyzing arguments
Synthesis (10–16 items)
  • Analyzing multiple texts
  • Analyzing quantitative information

SAT Writing and Language Test (4 passage sets, 44 multiple-choice items, 35 minutes)

  • A defined range of text complexity from grades 9–10 to postsecondary entry
  • Arguments, informative/explanatory texts, and nonfiction narratives
  • Career-related topics, humanities, history/social studies, science
  • One or more passage sets accompanied by informational graphics
Expression of Ideas (24 items)
  • Development
  • Organization
  • Effective language use
Standard English Conventions (20 items)
  • Sentence structure
  • Conventions of usage
  • Conventions of punctuation

SAT Math Test (58 items [45 multiple-choice, 13 student-produced response], 80 minutes)

Heart of Algebra (19 items)
  • Analyzing and fluently solving linear equations and systems of linear equations
  • Creating linear equations and inequalities to represent relationships between quantities and to solve problems
  • Understanding and using the relationship between linear equations and inequalities and their graphs to solve problems
Problem Solving and Data Analysis (17 items)
  • Creating and analyzing relationships using ratios, proportional relationships, percentages, and units
  • Representing and analyzing quantitative data
  • Finding and applying probabilities in context
Passport to Advanced Math (16 items)
  • Identifying and creating equivalent algebraic expressions
  • Creating, analyzing, and fluently solving quadratic and other nonlinear equations
  • Creating, using, and graphing exponential, quadratic, and other nonlinear functions
Additional Topics in Math (6 items)
  • Solving problems related to area and volume
  • Applying definitions and theorems related to lines, angles, triangles, and circles
  • Working with right triangles, the unit circle, and trigonometric functions

Cross-Test Score: Analysis in Science (21 SAT Reading Test items, 6 SAT Writing and Language Test items, 8 SAT Math Test items)


Across all required components of the SAT, students are asked to apply their reading, writing, language, and math knowledge and skills as well as careful reasoning to answer questions and solve problems situated in life, Earth, space, and physical science contexts.

Student performance on these science-context questions contributes to a cross-test score called Analysis in Science. (A parallel Analysis in History/Social Studies cross-test score is derived in similar fashion.)

While questions contributing to the Analysis in Science cross-test score do not directly assess students’ knowledge of science content, they do require students to perform types of analysis and reasoning frequently required in postsecondary science course work. Skills assessed include:

  • Making reasonable inferences from provided data
  • Delineating sequences in descriptions of experiments
  • Understanding causal relationships presented by researchers
  • Analyzing evidence offered by scientists to support hypotheses
  • Refining the presentation of a scientific claim
  • Adding relevant descriptive details about a procedure
  • Using data from a graph to enhance or correct a writer’s account of experimental results
  • Revising transitional words and phrases to clarify relationships
  • Creating and using algebraic equations, functions, and inequalities to model relationships and to solve problems in scientific contexts
  • Solving problems presented in a science context using rates, ratios, units, percent’s, and probability
  • Analyzing univariate and bivariate data