Abishek Babu M

Updated on 25-04-2023


SAT Exam Syllabus and Pattern for 2023

SAT Exam Syllabus and Pattern for 2023

SAT exam syllabus contains 3 section: reading comprehension, writing and language, and math. The Scholastic Assessment Test is a standardized test used for college admissions in the USA. The optional essay writing section was recently discontinued by the SAT College Board. More than 1.7 million high school graduates take the test every year. You can get the test content, structure, time limits, pattern, and a complete overview of the SAT Syllabus in this blog.

SAT exam syllabus is mainly based on school curriculum. The two types of SAT exams are SAT General Test and SAT Subject Test (now invalid). Candidates get 43% more time for the SAT General Test than the ACT test. The format of SAT exam is mainly multiple choice. There are short written answers in the math section. You can take the SAT if you are applying for an undergraduate course in a US college. The universities will use the SAT score to assess your readiness for undergraduate study.

Table of Contents:

Highlights of SAT Exam

Conducted by College Board for International Candidate
Sections Reading, Writing, and Maths
Duration 180 minutes
Number of questions 154
Score Range 400-1600
Language English
Exam type For undergraduate courses/Bachelors
Mode of exam Pen-Paper
Negative marking No

Types of SAT Exams

There are 2 types of SAT exams - SAT General Test and SAT Subject Test (discontinued now).


1. SAT General Test

The SAT General Test is used by colleges in the US for UG admissions. The test contains common questions and assesses various skills of a candidate such as writing, reading, language, problem-solving, critical reasoning, mathematical, general knowledge, and verbal skills. The SAT syllabus is designed to measure readiness and the ability to solve basic problems. The SAT score will be a number between 400 and 1600.

2. SAT Subject Test (Discontinued)

This is a more subject-focused test. The SAT Subject Tests assess students mainly based on 5 subject areas - Languages, History, English, Mathematics, and Science. These are divided into 20 specific topics and tests are conducted based on these topics. The test evaluates students based on the subjects they choose to pursue in college. The college will use this test for admission and course placements. The test duration is only 1 hour and is scored between 200 and 800 points. A good SAT subject test score will exempt you from certain college requirements.

SAT Exam Syllabus for Indian Students Explained

The following sections are covered in the SAT Exam Syllabus:

  • Reading
  • Writing and Language
  • Mathematics

1. Reading

In the Reading section of the SAT Exam Syllabus, there will be 52 multiple-choice questions that you must solve within 65 minutes. Each question has four choices. The questions will be based on reading passages that may come with tables, graphs, or charts. There will be five passages with 10-11 questions each. The questions will be from these subjects - sociology, social science, psychology, economics, scientific works, and fiction. One of the passages will be from American or world literature and one from either an American founding document, Great Global Conversation, or a related text. There will be one passage related to Physics, Chemistry, Biology, or Earth Science. The passages are about 500–750 words long. The reading comprehension section tests your ability to understand the meaning of different contexts and related terms, and to comprehend written text.

The SAT Reading Syllabus includes three sections - Reading comprehension (25 mins), Sentence completion (25 mins), and Paragraph-length critical reading (20 mins). The five passages include one pair of passages that need to be read together and four standalone passages. You should develop a good command over standard language usage and be able to express complex ideas. The questions can be factual, rhetorical, or synthetic. Factual questions refer to the important concept of the passage directly or indirectly. For the rhetorical questions, you have to analyze the tone and meaning of the passage. For synthetic questions, you should establish connections between ideas or reach conclusions from the given graphical information.

The SAT exam portion for reading is based on three broad categories:

  • How the Author Uses Evidence
  • Understanding Words in Context
  • Analysis in History/Social Studies and Science

Question Types in SAT Reading Test

  1. How the Author Uses Evidence - This type of question tests your understanding of the author’s usage of evidence to support a claim. The questions are asked in three ways. One is to find the part of a passage where the author is supporting a point he makes. Second, to find evidence from the passage that best supports the answer to a previous question. Third, to find a relation between an informational graphic and the passage it is paired with.

  2. Understanding Words in Context - In this question type, you have to identify the meaning of a word given in the context. You have to use the context clues from the passage to figure out the meaning of a word or phrase used. The question will also check your ability to understand how an author uses words to give meaning, style, and tone.

  3. Analysis in History/Social Studies and Science - In the passages related to history, social studies, and science, you should use your reading skills to find answers and not your prior knowledge of the subject. For example, you may get a passage about an experiment and will be asked to examine a hypothesis, interpret some data, or consider implications.

2. Writing and Language

The Writing section of the SAT portion consists of 44 multiple-choice questions and focuses on finding and fixing mistakes in passages. The SAT test is 35 minutes long with 4 passages with 11 questions each related to topics like job, science, humanities, history, social studies, argument, or theory each having 400–450 words. At least 1 passage will be a narrative that will describe some event like a story. The other passages are argumentative, informative, or explanatory and can contain charts, graphs, or infographics.

The SAT English Syllabus assesses your grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence construction, and vocabulary. The SAT Writing has 3 sections: one essay (25 mins), and 2 multiple choice sections (25 mins and 10 mins). In some passages, the candidate needs to persuade the reader. The format and purpose of each passage will vary.

The SAT Writing Syllabus is based on two categories:

  • Expression of Ideas
  • Standard English Conventions

Question Types in SAT Writing Test

  1. Expression of Ideas - In this section, your quality of writing will be tested. There are 3 kinds of questions in this section (a) Development questions - based on main ideas (topic sentences and thesis statements), supporting details, focus, and quantitative information from tables, graphs, and charts. (b) Organization questions - logical sequence, placement of information and ideas, introductions, conclusions, and transitions. (c) Effective Language Use - improve precision and remove wordiness, consider style and tone, and merge sentences to improve flow and emphasize one point over another.

  2. Standard English Conventions - This type of question requires you to recognize and correct grammar, usage, and mechanics problems in passages. You may get run-on or incomplete sentences and you have to correct the errors in those sentences. You will also get sentences with a lack of subject-verb or pronoun-antecedent agreement or missing punctuation.

3. Mathematics

The SAT Syllabus for Math has two sections - No calculator portion and calculator portion. There are a total of 58 questions for which you will get 80 minutes to complete. In this 45 questions are multiple-choice and 13 are grid-in questions, meaning you will have to arrive at the answers independently. Algebra and functions, geometry, trigonometry, number and operations, statistics, probability, and data analysis are important subjects in this test.

The SAT exam syllabus for Math focuses on topics like linear equations and systems, quantitative data, formulas, mathematical reasoning, and manipulation of complex equations. About 22% of the questions need problem-solving skills. The score for the Math section is given on a scale of 200-800.

The SAT exam maths syllabus is categorised into the following types:

  • Heart of Algebra
  • Problem-Solving and Data Analysis
  • Passport to Advanced Math
  • Additional Topics in Math

Question Types in SAT Mathematics Test

  1. Heart of Algebra - This section consists of questions based on linear equations, systems of linear equations, and functions. You will have to create equations that represent a situation, solve equations and systems of equations, and make connections between different representations of linear relationships. There will be 19 questions of this type.

  2. Problem-Solving and Data Analysis - This section has 17 questions based on ratios, percentages, and proportional reasoning to solve problems in real-world situations, including in the fields like science, and social science. It also contains questions related to describing graphical relationships and analyzing statistical data. You should have a good understanding of mathematical concepts that are important throughout your college, career, and daily life.

  3. Passport to Advanced Math - There will be 16 questions from the maths subjects that you will need for your higher studies in science and economics and for career opportunities in the STEM fields. You must be familiar with complex equations or functions that will be needed for calculus and advanced statistics courses.

  4. Additional Topics in Math - There will be 6 questions from additional topics like geometry, trigonometry, radian measure, and complex numbers. Three questions will be asked in the no calculator portion and the calculator portion each.

Download SAT Exam Syllabus PDF

What is the SAT Exam Pattern?


The SAT test should be completed in 3 hours. It consists of three sections - evidence-based Reading, Writing and Language Tests, and Math. The question will be based on subjects students have already learned in school. There will be a total of 154 questions and the maximum score you can achieve is 1600. The following table shows the SAT exam pattern and syllabus in detail.

Section Questions

Time Allotted

Score Range


20 (With 5 Grid-in)
38 (With 8 Grid-in)

Total - 58 questions

25 minutes (for No-Calculator Portion)
55 minutes (for Calculator Portion)

Total - 80 minutes

Reading 52 multiple-choice questions

65 minutes

Writing 44 multiple-choice questions 35 minutes Calculated with Reading section
Total 154 questions 180 minutes 400-1600

SAT Mathematics Level 1 vs Level 2

SAT Mathematics Level 1 and 2 differ mainly in the topics assessed. Level 1 contains questions on items like algebraic expressions, coordinate geometry, data analysis, and number sequences. Maths Level 2 also addresses these topics, plus items like precalculus, trigonometry, logarithmic functions, and the law of cosines and sines. Both these tests will have 50 questions and have to be completed within 60 minutes.

How to Prepare for the SAT Exam?

To prepare for the SAT exam, it's important to be familiar with the syllabus and to have access to resources such as exam guides and previous year's question papers. There are many free online study guides available to help with SAT practice. Here are some tips to prepare for the SAT Exam.

Set a target score

Before registering for SAT exam, you should identify your preferred college, university or course. Online search tools help you filter through different courses and show required SAT scores. Set a target score based on this information and take practice tests to identify areas that need improvement.

Use college board exam guides

The SAT study guides from the College Board are helpful resources that can be downloaded for free. They provide clear information about the SAT test, including the breakdown of each test section and advice on how to study for them. The guides also include important information about what to do on test day, like what resources to bring and how to answer questions and fill out the exam paper.

Practice past questions

To practice for the SAT exam, one can download practice papers from the College Board website or access past years' question papers from schools and colleges. Students can practice under timed conditions at their own pace. After finishing the practice test, the score can be determined using the provided mark sheet and score guide. It is recommended to have a pencil, eraser, calculator, and timer before taking the test.

If you are planning to take the SAT to study in USA, then these Scholarships for Indian Students in USA will be helpful.


Be familiar with the format, structure, syllabus, and also types of questions asked in the SAT exam. Try to solve multiple practice tests in the stipulated time. If you put a good amount of time and effort into preparing for the test, you can score well on the SAT. Getting admission to colleges in the USA will give you some of the best learning experiences. Hope this blog has given you a quick roundup of the SAT Exam Syllabus.


1. Is SAT a difficult exam?

The SAT test is taken by millions of students every year to get into top colleges in the US. Since a large number of students attend this exam, you have to score very well to outrank others and to get into good colleges.

2. What is SAT exam eligibility?

There are no specific eligibility criteria for taking the SAT. Usually, students in class 11 or 12 take this test. But to be eligible to seek admission to a college, you must have completed your high school.

3. What is the average SAT score in India?

The average SAT score in India is 1000. If you can score above 1200 it is considered a good score. The maximum score you can get on the SAT is 1600.

4. What is the passing score for SAT?

There is no passing mark for the SAT. The score is calculated in a range of 400-1600. 400 is the minimum score and 1600 is the maximum score.

5. Is SAT fully MCQ?

Most of the questions in the SAT are multiple-choice questions. But nearly 20% of the questions are grid-in questions where you will not be provided with multiple choices.

6. How many times can I take the SAT? 

You can take the SAT as many times as you want. But remember that SAT is conducted on only 7 days in a year.

7. Is a calculator allowed in SAT?

Calculator can be used in one portion of the mathematics section. There will be 38 questions in this portion. You cannot use a calculator in the other sections.

8. Does IIT accept SAT?

IITs do not accept SAT. To get into an IIT you have to clear the JEE. The SAT exam is taken to get college admissions in the United States.

9. What is the SAT exam syllabus for engineering?

The syllabus for all the courses is the same. There is no separate syllabus for SAT if you are planning to take engineering. The SAT exam syllabus for medical students is also the same.

10. What is the fee for the SAT exam in India?

The fee for the SAT exam is $55. In India, candidates have to pay an additional non-US regional fee which is $49. The total SAT exam fee in India is around $104.


About Author Abishek Babu M

Abishek is a seasoned expert in the study abroad processes and IELTS, GRE, TOEFL, and SAT subjects. With over 2.5 years of experience in helping students achieve their foreign education goals, he has become a trusted individual in the industry. His extensive knowledge and authority in the IELTS test have earned him a reputation as a go-to resource for students seeking to excel in their exams. Abishek's exceptional track record has earned him the trust of countless students who rely on his resources to achieve their study abroad dreams.

More Articles Post by Abishek Babu M

Kanan International is an IRCC-certified study abroad consultancy that offers reliable services, products, and solutions for students and education institutions. We support students throughout their study abroad journey, ensuring a hassle-free experience. Our expertise and commitment to excellence make us the go-to partner for expanding global horizons. The company provides coaching for IELTS, GRE, TOEFL, and SAT exams and services like visa consultation, accommodation, scholarship assistance, and education loans.

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