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
Mathematics questions can have two formats:
- Multiple-choice questions
- Student-produced response questions
Here is a breakdown of the question types and content covered:
|Question types||# of Questions||Time|
|Standard multiple-choice||44||Two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section|
|Total: 54||Total: 70 minutes|
The content of the mathematics questions falls into four general categories:
|Content||# of Questions|
|Numbers and operations||11–13|
|Algebra and functions||19–21|
|Geometry and measurement||14–16|
|Data analysis, statistics, and probability||6–7|
In one of the 25-minute mathematics sections, there will be 10 questions that have no answer choices provided. Students must solve the problem and fill in the answer on a special grid.
It is very important for students to understand the directions for entering answers on the grid. The format is described in the test book, but students will lose valuable time if they struggle to understand what the section requires during the actual test.
To answer these questions, students must:
- Write numbers that range from 0 to 9999 (including decimals and fractions) on the grid
- Write the form of the answer that they obtain naturally in solving the problem:
- Whole numbers
Here is what students will see on the answer sheet for student-produced response questions:
Students can view explanations of how to write their answers on the grid in the student area of this site. Urge them to practice entering whole numbers, fractions, and decimals as well as answers to questions about money and other special formats.
Number and operations questions
About a quarter of the mathematics questions address the following concepts:
- Arithmetic word problems (including percent, ratio, and proportion)
- Properties of integers (even, odd, prime numbers, divisibility, and so forth)
- Rational numbers
- Sets (union, intersection, elements)
- Counting techniques
- Sequences and series (including exponential growth)
- Elementary number theory
Practice number and operations questions are provided on the student pages of this site.
Algebra and functions questions
Just over a third of the mathematics questions address the following concepts:
- Substitution and simplifying algebraic expressions
- Properties of exponents
- Algebraic word problems
- Solutions of linear equations and inequalities
- Systems of equations and inequalities
- Quadratic equations
- Rational and radical equations
- Equations of lines
- Absolute value
- Direct and inverse variation
- Concepts of algebraic functions
- Newly defined symbols based on commonly used operations
Practice questions for algebra and functions are provided on the student pages of this site.
Geometry and measurement questions
Just over a quarter of the mathematics questions address the following concepts:
- Area and perimeter of a polygon
- Area and circumference of a circle
- Volume of a box, cube, and cylinder
- Pythagorean theorem and special properties of isosceles, equilateral, and right triangles
- Properties of parallel and perpendicular lines
- Coordinate geometry
- Geometric visualization
Practice questions for geometry and measurement are provided on the student pages of this site.
Data analysis, statistics, and probability questions
A little more than a tenth of the mathematics questions address the following concepts:
- Data interpretation (tables and graphs)
- Descriptive statistics (mean, median, and mode)
Practice questions for data analysis, statistics, and probability are provided on the student pages of this site.