SAT Exam Syllabus


SAT Exam Syllabus

SAT Exam 2023

The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) is a test that only tests a candidate on some of the Math and English topics which they would have learnt in their high school, hence being deemed as neither a test of academic excellence nor a test of intelligence. Though there are no set models or any reference books from which a student/candidate can work through to prepare for the SAT exam, it is possible to analyse each section and the related question types to understand its content and the necessary skills which are required to prepare oneself for the SAT exam syllabus 2023.
Some of the updates and changes that are implemented in the SAT Syllabus 2023 that can be seen are as follows:

  • The College Board has announced that the optional SAT Essay Section is discontinued.
  • They have announced that the SAT essay will be rolled out.
  • They have however made the optional SAT Essay (available since 2021) in places where it is mandated under SAT School Day Administration. Hence, it is recommended for the test-takers to double-check the pre-requisites of the SAT Exam and other processes with their intended school.
The SAT exam has two types: General Test and Subject Test

SAT General Test

Among the two SAT exams, the SAT General Test is the more commonly approached by undergraduate schools for admissions. The SAT General Test evaluates and checks the student’s writing, verbal (reading), mathematical abilities.

  1. SAT Verbal Syllabus (Reading)
  2. SAT Writing and Language Syllabus
  3. SAT Math Syllabus

SAT Subject Test

The SAT Academic Test (i.e., Subject Test) which is often known as the SAT-2 is an admissions test that is focused on a specific subject area. These tests are chosen by the students who wish to focus on a specific subject area to demonstrate their mastery of that subject content. There are 20 SAT Academic Tests, which are divided into 5 primary subject areas:

  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • English
  • History 
  • Languages

SAT Exam Syllabus

SAT Reading Syllabus

The SAT Reading Test is a test that is used for checking the proficiency of the candidate’s Reading Comprehension. In the SAT Reading Syllabus, it consists of 5 passages out of which the test candidate can find that it uses passages from Science, History/Social Studies, and Fiction to test the candidate’s interpretation skills, synthesize the information, and use the possible pieces of evidence that can be gleaned from a wide range of sources.

SAT Writing Syllabus

The SAT Writing and Language section tests the candidate’s knowledge about punctuations, grammar, and the effective use of the language. As the SAT is a level for high school students, it tests the candidate on a few grammar concepts and its rules. The Writing section has various segments where they ask about the identification of errors, correction, style, tone, word choice, transitions between paragraphs, passage structure, and passage coherence.

SAT Mathematics Syllabus

The SAT Math section covers the 6
th to 10th grade Math, and among with it covers arithmetic. Algebra, geometry, statistics, and basic trigonometry. Also, other factors such as “Additional Math” concepts that involve Quadratic and Exponential Functions, Geometric and Trigonometric concepts, and Complex Numbers.

The key point to note in this section is that one part of the Math test permits the use of a calculator whereas the other part doesn’t. Hence, the test candidates are requested to be mindful of this and go through each question carefully.

SAT Essay

The SAT Essay section is optional but many universities still expect the candidates to have a better score even in this section. The SAT Essay evaluates the candidate’s reading, writing, and analytical skills. The duration that is given to every candidate is 50 minutes and they will have to write an argument after reading a 650 – 750 word long passage. One important point to note is that the candidates should refrain from giving their opinion.

SAT Exam Pattern:

The exam pattern for SAT consists of two major divisions which are:

  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW)
  • Math
  • Essay(optional)

In the two sections EBRW and Math, they are scored in the range of 200 – 800. Though the SAT Essay score despite being optional, many colleges and universities require this score as well during their application process wherein the score range for the Essay section is 2 – 8.

Some of the Highlights of the SAT Exam Pattern are:

  • The two sections of the EBRW (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing) and Math along with the optional Essay section have questions with Multiple-choice answers where the candidate has to select the correct or the best answer from the options.
  • Math is further divided into two – One can be taken with a calculator and another, without the use of a calculator.
  • For the most, questions in Math are based on Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ’s), but some questions are grid-ins (i.e. students should solve the question first and fill the answer of the correct answer in the bubble sheet.
  • The duration of the exam is for 3 hours and the SAT with Essay is 3 hours and 50 minutes long.
  • The time limit of the exam is further broken down into having 100 minutes for attempting EBRW and 80 minutes for Math.
  • The table provided below gives an idea about the SAT Exam pattern where the candidates can know the time allotted for the exam, the number of questions asked, the score range allotted for the test, and many more.

Number of Sections
4 (2 EBRW: 2 Math)
Duration of Exam
180 minutes (without Essay)
Language of Paper
Mode of Examination
Pencil – Paper
Negative Marking
Number of Questions
Score Range
400 - 1600

The table given below mentions the recent updations done to the SAT Exam Syllabus and it is based on the two main sections – EBRW and Maths, and also an additional essay section which is opted by candidates sometimes.



Number of Questions

Time Limit (minutes)

Score Range

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

Reading Test



200 – 800

Writing and Language Test




Math without a Calculator



200 – 800

Math with a Calculator



Essay (optional)




2 to 8



154 (155 with Essay)

180 (230 with Essay)

400 – 1600

The SAT Exam pattern of the SAT EBRW consists of two sections:

  1. SAT Reading Pattern
  2. SAT Writing Pattern

SAT Reading Exam Pattern

  • This test contains 52 multiple choice questions (MCQ’s) in 5 passages that are to be attempted in 65 minutes
  • One passage would be from American or International work of fiction like short stories or novels
  • One passage or two passages will be about the US founding documents or the Great Global Conversation on topics like freedom, justice, and human dignity
  • The next selection of passage(s) will be on economics, psychology, sociology, etc
  • The next two passages will be from Work of Science
  • The students are required to answer the questions by reading the passages that are provided by either explaining an experiment or study or by telling a story or making an argument.

Type of Questions (SAT Reading)

The SAT EBRW questions are further divided into five categories:

  • Among the SAT reading questions, a few questions comprise of command of evidence-based questions.
  • The next set of questions focuses on searching for either direct or implied information were finding the passages which explain a bit more about the information provided, analysing the main themes, the summary’s identification, and also analysing the various ideas and how they are interlinked.
  • The next set of questions are based on word choices that are more focused on the effect than its definition. The structure of these text questions can be solved with structural strategies with problem-solving techniques.
  • Some questions ask the candidate to draw conclusions and make connections between passages and compile them into informational graphs like tables, charts, graphs, etc.
  • There are also a set of questions that are comprised of words in a context that focuses on the advanced vocabulary where the College Board focuses on “high-utility academic words and phrases”.

SAT Writing Exam Pattern

  • The SAT writing and language test consists of 44 MCQs (multiple choice questions) in 4 passages that are to be attempted in 35 minutes.
  • In this section, the candidates are required to revise and edit the passages.
  • The topics that are presented in the passages speak about careers, science, humanities, history, social science.
  • The passage’s writing modes are to be narrative, argumentative, and the passage should contain information/explanations.
  • There should be at least one passage each that contains each of the above-mentioned writing modes.

Type of Questions (SAT Writing)

The SAT questions of the Writing and Language consists of various components in them which are:

  • Components such as sentence structure, verb tense, punctuation, parallel construction, grammar usage, subject-verb agreement, etc.
  • It should have aspects of the expression of ideas that either strengthen or weaken an argument.
  • Standard English conventions used are mentioned in the passage(s) which contains word choices for the various style, text, or tones.
  • It should comprise structural changes to improve readability.

SAT Mathematics Pattern

The SAT Mathematics pattern comprises of two sub-parts where one contains a section where a calculator should not be used to complete it, and the other section is where the calculator can be used for the candidates to finish that section.
Some of the key points to note regarding the SAT Math pattern are that:

  • 58 questions are the number of questions that are allotted to this test and the exam should be attempted in 80 minutes.
  • The composition of this test contains 80% of questions that are multiple-choice whereas 20% of the rest are grid-ins.
  • The Math test section with the use of Calculator has 30 multiple-choice questions and 8 grid-in questions.
  • The grid-in questions require the students to enter the derived answers that they have tried out and found out by themselves through rough work in the bubble sheet which appears similar to an OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) sheet.
  • The Math test section without the calculator has 15 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and 5 grid-in questions.
  • To perform this test, a set of formulas and references will be provided at the beginning of the test.
  • The section that does not allow the use of calculators give specific attention to the students going for science, technology, engineering, or math.
  • The questions that are framed for this sub-section are based on real-life settings on the topics from science, social science, and career contexts.

Types of Questions (SAT Maths)

The Math section of the SAT Exam paper pattern consists of the questions that can be categorized into three different focal points in Math:

  • The first area of the focus falls under the heart of algebra which is to create, manipulate and solve algebraic equations like linear equations and systems.
  • The next area is problem-solving and data analysis where the focus is on interpreting graphs and tables and solving problems in real-world situations using ratios, percentages, and proportional reasoning.
  • The third area of focus falls on the work that focuses on the manipulation and solving of complex mathematical equations and functions.
From the focal points mentioned above, the questions formulated also have a few more additional topics chosen from which are listed below:

  • Area and Volume
  • Coordinate Geometry
  • Basic Trigonometry

SAT Essay

  • The SAT Essay is an option that can be taken or avoided but still falls under the requirements of most colleges to get a deeper insight into a student’s personality and to understand their thought process.
  • To undertake this section of the SAT Exam, the candidate would have to pay an additional amount along with the basic registration fee.
  • For SAT Essay, the candidates are required to write an essay on the topic which will be given to them based on a passage for which they will have to complete it within 50 minutes.
  • They should read through the content thoroughly to explain how the evidence, reasoning, and styling elements are provided by the author to provide a convincing essay from the passage given.
  • The marks awarded are based on three separate scores on a range of 2 – 8.
  • This section helps the candidates to assess their skills in how they read, analyse and write the essay from the given passage.

Types of Questions (SAT Essay)

Though the content of the passage varies from every SAT, the core of the passages always contains the following factors:

  • It is written for a much broader audience
  • It argues a point
  • It expresses subtle viewpoints on various complex subjects
  • It contains logical reasoning and evidence to support the claims
  • It explores ideas, debates, or trends in the arts and sciences or civic, cultural, or political life.
  • The passages mentioned in the SAT essay are always taken from published works.
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