About the SAT®
This information refers to the current SAT and is in effect through the January 2016 test date. Get information about the redesigned SAT, which starts March 2016.
Using the SAT® to connect students and colleges
The SAT helps college admission officers make fair and informed admission decisions. Combined with a student's academic record, it is a proven, reliable indicator of college success. Since its launch in 1926, the SAT has helped millions of students connect with college success and today remains the most reliable, effective measure of a student's college readiness. The SAT tests the subject matter learned by students in high school and how well they apply that knowledge—the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in college.
The SAT is offered seven times a year in the United States and six times at international sites. The test:
- Takes three hours and 45 minutes (testing time only—does not include breaks or administrative tasks)
- Consists of 10 separately timed sections:
- Three sections test critical reading (70 minutes total)
- Three sections test mathematics (70 minutes total)
- Three sections test writing (60 minutes total)
- One variable (unscored) section tests critical reading, mathematics, or writing (25 minutes total)
- Assesses subject matter learned in high school and problem solving skills in three areas:
- Critical reading
- Includes three kinds of questions:
- Is machine-scored, except for the essay
Why should students take the SAT?
Students and parents often ask why it is important to take the SAT. Reasons include:
- All colleges accept the SAT as an objective measurement of students' college readiness.
- Used with GPAs and high school transcripts, SAT scores allow colleges to fairly compare applicants.
- Taking the SAT gives students access to scholarship opportunities.
- Most colleges require an admission test like the SAT.
- The SAT provides students with the most comprehensive performance feedback of any admission test.
Many institutions require a writing assessment for admission. Students who take the SAT automatically fulfill such requirements.
Learn more about the scholarship search tool in the student area of our site.
How difficult is the SAT?
The SAT is developed to reflect accepted educational standards. The data show that the material on the SAT and the time allocated to each section are appropriate for the intended test-taking population:
- On average, students answer 50 to 60 percent of questions correctly.
- 80 percent finish nearly the entire test.
- Almost all students complete at least 75 percent of the questions.
Encourage your students to become familiar with the test before they take their first SAT. (The following link takes you to the student area of this site.) The SAT practice section of the site offers:
- Sample questions
- Answer explanations
- Official SAT practice test
- Personalized score report