Critical Reading Section
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.
Question format, types, and content on the SAT
All critical reading questions on the SAT® are multiple-choice questions. Here is a breakdown of the question types:
|Question types||# of Questions||Time|
|Passage-based reading||48||Two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section|
|Total: 67||Total: 70 minutes|
The content of critical reading questions falls into three general categories:
|Content||# of Questions|
|Vocabulary in context||12–16|
Passage-based reading questions
Reading passages are taken from different fields, including:
- Natural sciences
- Social sciences
- Literary fiction
Passages often have line numbers or numbered elements that are then referenced in the questions that follow. Reading passages:
- Range in length from 100 to about 850 words
- Have narrative, argumentative, or expository elements
- May be paired with related passages on a shared theme or issue
Students will be asked to:
- Determine the meanings of words from their context
- Show their understanding of information directly stated, including the main idea
- Synthesize and analyze information including:
- Identifying cause and effect
- Making inferences
- Understanding logic of analogies or arguments
- Evaluate the author's assumptions and techniques
Passage-based reading sample questions are provided in the student pages of this site.
Sentence-completion questions measure students':
- Knowledge of the meanings of words
- Understanding of how the different parts of a sentence fit together logically
Each sentence-completion question presents students with a sentence that has one or more blanks, with each blank indicating that something has been omitted. The students have to choose the word(s) to complete the sentence that best fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole.
Sentence-completion sample questions are provided in the student pages of this site.