SAT Syllabus - Everything You Need to Know

    Updated on: 09 Nov 2022

    SAT Syllabus 2022-23 

    In most US universities, the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is used as part of the admissions process. The SAT evaluates their skills in these areas as a measure of a candidate's writing, reading, and mathematics ability. SAT exam preparation begins with understanding the SAT exam pattern and syllabus. So, let's look at the SAT syllabus and its structure. 

    It consists of three tests and takes three hours to complete:

    1. Reading Test
    2. Writing and Language Test
    3. Math Test.

     Overview of SAT Syllabus


    Time Allotted (minutes)

    Number of Questions/Tasks




    Writing and Language










    Most of the questions are multiple-choice, but some math questions require you to write in your answer.

    It is better to guess than to leave the response blank on all questions. 

    The Reading Test: Overview

    During the Reading Test, you will read five passages and answer multiple-choice questions about them. A total of 52 questions are included in this test, which has a time limit of 65 minutes. The five passages on the Reading Test include four standalone passages and one pair of passages that you read together. The standalone passages and the paired set are each 500–750 words. The passages are drawn from the following types of documents: 

    • 1 literary passage from a work of fiction. 
    • 1 or 2 passages from a U.S. founding document or a text in the Great Global 
    • 1 passage from a work of economics, psychology, sociology, or some other social science. 
    • 2 passages from scientific works that examine foundational concepts and developments in Earth science, biology, chemistry, or physics. 

    Reading Test Questions Are Like:

    The questions on the reading test fall into three broad categories: 

    1. How the Author Uses Evidence 

    You may be asked to demonstrate your understanding of how an author uses evidence to support a claim. Depending on the question, you might be asked to: 

    • Identify the part of a passage that supports a point the author is making. 
    • Find evidence in a passage that best supports the answer to a previous question. 
    • Find a relationship between an informational graphic and the passage it’s paired with. 

    2. Understanding Words in Context

    Many of the questions on the Reading Test ask you to identify the meaning of a word in context. The “in context” part is important: the questions ask you to use context clues in a passage to figure out which meaning of a word or phrase is being used. Other questions will ask you to decide how an author’s choice of words shapes meaning, style, and tone. 

    3. Analysis in History/Social Studies and in Science 

    The Reading Test includes passages in the fields of history, social studies, and science. You’ll be asked questions that require you to draw on the reading skills needed most to succeed in those subjects.

    For instance, you might read about an experiment and then see questions that ask you to: 

    • Examine hypotheses. 
    • Interpret data. 
    • Consider implications. 

    The answers are based only on the content stated in or implied by the passage, not your prior knowledge of the subject.

    Read Also:

    The Writing and Language Test

    The Writing and Language test is a multiple-choice test in which you read passages and find and fix mistakes and weaknesses. 

    This part of the SAT is 35 minutes long, includes 4 passages, and contains 44 multiple-choice questions.  

    What the Writing and Language Test Passages Are Like

    The 4 passages on the test are each 400–450 words. The complexity of the passages varies: some are more challenging and others more straightforward.

    The passages are about a variety of topics, including careers, science, the humanities, and history and social studies.

    The purpose and format of each passage varies:

    • At least 1 is a narrative, meaning it describes events in a storylike way. This passage is not a work of fiction, but it could be a nonfiction account of an historical event, or it might describe the sequence of events in a scientific experiment.
    • The other passages are either argumentative, meaning they try to convince or persuade the reader of something, or else informative and explanatory.

    Some of the passages contain charts, graphs, or infographics that you interpret together with the written part of the passage.

    What the Writing and Language Test Questions Are Like

    Each passage has 11 multiple-choice questions.

    The questions fall into two main types: those where you improve the expression of ideas, and those where you have to recognize and correct errors in sentence structure, grammar, usage, and punctuation.

    Expression of Ideas

    These questions ask you to improve the substance and quality of the writer’s message.
    They can be divided into three kinds:

    • Development questions are about main ideas (topic sentences and thesis statements), supporting details, focus, and quantitative information in tables, graphs, and charts.
    • Organization questions focus on logical sequence and placement of information and ideas as well as effective introductions, conclusions, and transitions.
    • Effective Language Use questions ask you to improve precision and eliminate wordiness, consider style and tone, and combine sentences to improve flow and to achieve particular rhetorical effects (such as emphasizing one point over another).

    Standard English Conventions

    These questions focus on recognizing and correcting grammar, usage, and mechanics problems in passages. These questions ask you to recognize and correct errors in sentence structure (like run-on or incomplete sentences), usage (like lack of subject-verb or pronoun-antecedent agreement), and punctuation (like missing or unnecessary commas).

    The Math Test: Overview

    The Math Test focuses on the areas of math that play the biggest role in college and career success: 

    • Heart of Algebra, which focuses on the mastery of linear equations and systems.
    • Problem Solving and Data Analysis, which is about being quantitatively literate.
    • Passport to Advanced Math, which features questions that require the manipulation of complex equations.

    The Math Test also draws on Additional Topics in Math, including the geometry and trigonometry most relevant to college and career readiness. 

    The Math Test is divided into two parts: a no-calculator portion and a calculator portion. In both portions, most of the test is multiple choice, but some of the questions at the end ask you to write the answer (these are called “grid-ins”). Everyday formulas are provided for you to use. 

    Breakdown of the Test 

    No-Calculator Portion

    Time allotted

    25 minutes

    Total questions


    Multiple-choice questions


    Grid-in questions



    Calculator Portion

    Time allotted

    55 minutes

    Total questions


    Multiple-choice questions


    Grid-in questions


    Types of Math Tested

    The math questions are divided into four categories, with algebra being the most important. 

    Type of Math

    Number of Questions

    Heart of Algebra


    Problem Solving and Data Analysis


    Passport to Advanced Math 


    Additional Topics in Math 



    We hope this blog helped you to get in-depth knowledge. If you still have any doubts do let us know in the comment section.

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