Test Structure

Everything You Need to Know About SAT Test Structure

Taking an examination, without proper knowledge of its structure, is like appearing for the test blindfolded. You need to understand thetest structure of the SAT, thoroughly, to ensure that you are not confused at any time regarding the chronology, or the type of questions that you will have to answer. Moreover, knowledge of thestructure will also provide an insight into your strengths and weaknesses. Based on that, you can develop your SAT preparation strategies. To help you understand the SAT, the characteristics of its test structure have been discussed in the following section of the article.

Understanding the SAT Structure

The SAT is a college admission test. Hence, it will test your academics, as well as, your critical and analytical skills. A combination of good knowledge and methodical mind will ensure a successful college career. To convince college admission authorities that you have both, you must score well in the examination. In order to help you do so, the various features of the SAT have been discussed below, under the sections named according to the different parts of the SAT:

Critical Reading

As the name suggests, in this section of the SAT you will have to carefully read the questions, understand their requirements and then solve them. You will get 70 minutes to solve all the questions in this section. The two subsections of this part of the test are as follows:

  • Sentence Completion: This subsection consists of 19 fill-in-the-blanks questions. Each question is followed by 5 possible answer options, amongst which, you will have to choose the correct one. This subsection is designed, primarily, to evaluate your vocabulary.
  • Reading Comprehension: Here you will have to read the given passages, in order to, solve the given questions. This subsection comprises of 48 questions. The passages are usually one to two paragraphs long. The passages are taken from books, magazines, periodicals and newspapers. However, prior knowledge of the texts from which the passages are taken is not required.

As you can understand from the above-mentioned explanations, the Critical Reading section is designed to test your vocabulary, as well as, your analytical skills. Hence, a lot of practice is required if you want to fare well in this section.


Since, aspiring college students take the SAT, the questions of the examination are based on the topics covered in high school. The mathematics section strictly adheres to this idea. The topics covered in this section are as follows:

  • Multiple choice questions: This subsection consists of problems that you will need to solve in order to arrive at the correct answers. The questions will cover arithmetic, algebraic, geometry and data analysis concepts like percentages, ratio, rational numbers, set theory, equation, interpretation of graphs etc. In other words, it will cover all that you have studied in high school. Here you will have to solve 20 questions in 25 minutes.
  • Grid-in questions: In this subsection, you will have to solve the provided question and write down their answers in the grids provided. These questions are usually based on various algebraic concepts, like equations, properties of exponents, substitution of values etc. Here you will have to solve 8 such questions. However, in this sub-section, you will also have to solve 10 multiple choice questions. You will get 25 minutes to solve all these questions.
  • Simple questions: In this subsection, you will have to solve 16 simple mathematical questions in 20 minutes.


The final part of the SAT will test your skills in being able to write coherently in the English language. The sub-sections for this part are as follows:

  • Essay writing: In the first part of the Writing section, you will get 25 minutes to read a given essay prompt, and then write a composition on it. The essay should be coherent, articulate and free of any grammatical errors.
  • Error identification: In this part, you will have to identify the grammatical or punctuation errors in the given sentences. You will have to solve 18 such questions.
  • Improving sentences: This part consists of sentences, which have a certain part of it underlined. You will have to identify whether or not there are any errors in the underlined section and choose the correct option accordingly. You will have to solve 25 questions in this part.
  • Paragraph improvement: Here you will have to solve 8 questions. These questions will be in the form of short paragraphs, which will have certain sections underlined. Read these paragraphs carefully and see if they require any changes and then choose the correct answer accordingly.
    As you can see the Writing section is designed to analyze your knowledge of the English language to the maximum.

The above-mentioned explanations provide an idea of the structure of the SAT. This knowledge is essential for proper SAT preparation. Eventually, it will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses. Based on that, you can draw a SAT preparation schedule, to which you should adhere strictly if you want to fare well in the test.