What is the SAT Test?

A complete overview of the SAT test. Learn about what the SAT is, its key components, and how that affects your college admission.

Many students who plan to apply to American universities have a hard time deciding between taking the SAT or the ACT. If you're a high school student thinking of taking the SAT and wondering how to prepare for it, you've come to the right place. In this blog, we will explain this important test and help you understand what it means, what it tests, and how to do well.

A yellow postit with 'SAT' written on it

What is the SAT Test?

The SAT is a standardized test developed and published by the College Board. It measures your skills in analyzing and solving problems related to reading, writing, language, and math. College admissions officers use your SAT score to help determine how prepared you are for college. The test is accepted by over 4,000 higher learning institutions in countries around the world.

The Structure of the SAT

You'll take the SAT test with a pencil and a Scantron sheet. The test is divided into four sections: Reading, Writing and Language, Math (no calculator), and Math (with calculator). The number of questions for each section and the time allotted are as follows:

Sections Reading Writing and Language Math (No-Calc) Math (Calc)
Questions 52 44 20 38
Test Time (min) 65 35 25 55

Starting in 2023, the SAT will shift from a paper-and-pencil test to a digital test. This will bring important changes to the test format, so it is important for you to understand the changes following the Digital SAT transition.

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What Does the SAT Test You On?


In the reading section of the SAT, you'll read passages that cover history, social studies, literature, humanities, and science. Then you'll answer multiple choice questions to show how well you've understood what you've read.

It assesses students' abilities to comprehend passages and extract information from them, as well as their understanding of how authors convey meaning through their writing. Additionally, the test requires students to draw conclusions and make connections between related passages or between passages and informational graphics. In essence, the test evaluates a student's reading and analytical skills.

Writing and Language

In the writing and language section of the sat, you’ll read passages that may include tables, graphs, or charts that relate to the topic. It evaluates students' abilities to improve the effectiveness of communication in a piece of writing and to demonstrate their knowledge of standard written English grammar, usage, punctuation, and other conventions/rules.

It assesses students’ abilities to to enhance the clarity and coherence of the text, and the ability to apply the rules of standard written English to ensure consistency and accuracy. Students may be asked to use information from graphs and charts to identify and correct errors in the passage or answer related questions. Essentially, the test aims to evaluate a student's proficiency in written communication and adherence to standard English conventions.


The SAT math section tests the concepts, skills, and practices you'll need to be successful in beginning college mathematics. The section covers four different areas: Algebra, Advanced Math, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Geometry and Trigonometry.

You'll get questions on linear equations, linear functions, systems of two linear equations in two variables, linear inequalities, absolute value, quadratic, exponential, polynomial, rational, radical, and other nonlinear equations. You'll also need to analyze and interpret one- and two-variable data, and solve problems that deal in area and volume, angles, triangles, and circles.

Your SAT Score

Reading and Writing are worth 400 points each, a total of 800 points. The math section is also worth up to 800 points. So your overall SAT score will land somewhere on a scale of 400 to 1600, in ten-point intervals.

According to the College Board, the average SAT score in 2021 was 1060. A score of 1200 will put you in the top 25%, and a score of 1350 would be in the top 10%. Some schools provide guidance on the range of scores they expect from their freshman students, so if you have a few schools in mind, you can look up what score you should target.

While the SAT may seem difficult, it's important to remember that it's just one part of your college application. With proper preparation and a clear understanding of what the test covers, you can feel confident and perform your best on test day.

If you're looking for additional resources to help you prepare for the SAT, whether it’s digital or paper, R.test is here to help you. We hope this article has helped you gain a better understanding of what the SAT is, what it tests, and how to prepare for success. Good luck on your test!

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