SAT & PSAT Test Structure

The following table outlines the structure of the SAT:

Test Number of Questions Total Time Time per Question
Reading Test 52 65 min 1 min 15 sec
Writing and Language Test 44 35 min 47 sec
Math Test 58 80 min 1 min 15 sec (No Calculator) and 1 min 26 sec (Calculator)
Essay Test Analyze an Argument 50 min N/A
Breaks: 10 min after the Reading Test, 5 min after the Math (No Calculator) section, and 2 min after the Math (Calculator) section Total Time: 4 hr 7 min

The PSAT/NMSQT is a shorter version of the SAT. The Reading Test includes 47 questions in 60 minutes; the Writing and Language Test includes 44 questions in 35 minutes; and the Math Test (including a calculator and a no-calculator portion) includes 48 questions in 70 minutes. The total time to complete the PSAT/NMSQT is 2 hours 45 minutes consisting of 139 questions.

SAT & PSAT Reading Test

The Reading Test assesses your ability to read carefully and understand the written word. How carefully you read and understand the information in a passage are important for these questions.  This section is not about how much you know on a topic; rather, it’s about understanding the author’s viewpoint and answering questions based on the information presented. You’ll be answering questions that deal with what’s stated and what’s implied. Some questions will focus on structure, purpose, and style. Others will ask you to draw on connections between pairs of related passages, or between a passage and a graphic. The directions are as follows:

Directions: Each passage or pair of passages below is followed by a number of questions. After reading each passage or pair, choose the best answer to each question based on what is stated or implied in the passage or passages and in any accompanying graphics (such as a table or graph).

SAT & PSAT Writing and Language Test

The Writing and Language Test presents passages that vary in purpose, subject, and complexity. Some passages may include informational graphics where you will need to use the information to inform decisions about revising and editing the associated passage. Overall, this section tests your ability to communicate ideas clearly and effectively, understand grammatical elements, and recognize errors in sentences and paragraphs. You’ll be asked questions that deal with the organization and development of a passage, as well as effective language use. The directions are as follows:

DirectionsEach passage below is accompanied by a number of questions. For some questions, you will consider how the passage might be revised to improve the expression of ideas. For other questions, you will consider how the passage might be edited to correct errors in sentence structure, usage, or punctuation. A passage or a question may be accompanied by one or more graphics (such as a table or graph) that you will consider as you make revising and editing decisions.

Some questions will direct you to an underlined portion of a passage. Other questions will direct you to a location in a passage or ask you to think about the passage as a whole.

After reading each passage, choose the answer to each question that most effectively improves the quality of writing in the passage or that makes the passage conform to the conventions of standard written English. Many questions include a “NO CHANGE” option. Choose that option if you think the best choice is to leave the relevant portion of the passage as it is.

SAT & PSAT Essay Test (optional)

The SAT Essay Test asks you to analyze an argument and explain how the author builds his or her argument to persuade an audience. You have 50 minutes to read, analyze, selectively reread, analyze, draw evidence, and write your essay based on the passage provided. To do well on the Essay Test, you’ll have to have a good sense of what the test will ask of you as well as the reading, analysis, and writing skills required to compose your response to the prompt. The directions are as follows:

Directions: The essay gives you an opportunity to show how effectively you can read and comprehend a passage and write an essay analyzing the passage. In your essay, you should demonstrate that you have read the passage carefully, present a clear and logical analysis, and use language precisely.

As you read the passage, consider how [the author] uses

  • Evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.
  • Reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.
  • Stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.

Write an essay in which you explain how [the author] builds an argument to persuade [his/her] audience that [author’s claim]. In your essay, analyze how [the author] uses one or more of the features listed above (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of [his/her] argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage.

Your essay should not explain whether you agree with [the author’s] claims, but rather explain how the author builds an argument to persuade [his/her] audience.

Your essay must be written on the lines provided in your answer booklet; except for the Planning Page of the answer booklet, you will receive no other paper on which to write. You will have enough space if you write on every line, avoid wide margins, and keep your handwriting to a reasonable size. Remember that people who are not familiar with your handwriting will read what you write. Try to write or print so that what you are writing is legible to those readers.

SAT & PSAT Math Test

The Math Test assesses your knowledge of a finite number of math concepts (see bel0w). Mastering these concepts is critical in order to score your highest on the test. There are two types of questions: multiple-choice and grid-in. In the Bridge Program, our coaches teach the math concepts and illustrate how to apply them to both types of questions. Below is a list of concepts test on the Math Test:

Arithmetic

Number Theory, Properties of Integers, Prime Numbers, Even and Odd Numbers, Positive and Negative Numbers, Consecutive Integers, Number Lines, Digits, Factors and Multiples, Factor Trees, Order of Operations, Percentages, Ratios, Proportions, Squares and other Powers, Square Roots, Data Analysis, Operations on Rational Numbers, Unit Conversions

Algebra

Polynomials, Exponents, Solving Linear Equations and Systems of Linear Equations, Substitution, FOIL, Factoring, Absolute Value, Rate, Inequalities, Applied Algebra, Translating Math Sentences, Mean, Median, Linear Functions, Quadratic Functions, Symbols as Representations of Operations, Probability, Permutations, Combinations, Sets, Interpretation of Graphs and Tables, Analyzing Statistical Data

Geometry

Lines and Angles, Area and Circumference of Circles, Area and Perimeter of Triangles and other Polygons, Pythagorean Theorem, Special Right Triangles, Quadrilaterals, Integrated Shapes, Volume of Cube, Rectangular Prism, and Cylinder, Coordinate Geometry, Midpoint and Distance

Advanced Topics

Trigonometry, Radian Measure, Unit Circle, SOHCAHTOA, Complex Numbers, Non-Linear Functions

The directions are as follows:

Directions – Math Test No CalculatorFor questions 1-15, solve each problem, choose the best answer from the choices provided, and fill in the corresponding circle on your answer sheet. For questions 16-20, solve the problem and enter your answer in the grid on the answer sheet. Please refer to the directions before question 16 on how to enter your answers in the grid. You may use any available space in your test booklet for scratch work. The use of a calculator is not permitted.

Directions  Math Test Calculator: For questions 1-30, solve each problem, choose the best answer from the choices provided, and fill in the corresponding circle on your answer sheet. For questions 31-38, solve the problem and enter your answer in the grid on the answer sheet. Please refer to the directions before question 16 on how to enter your answers in the grid. You may use any available space in your test booklet for scratch work. The use of a calculator is permitted.

Notes:

  1. All variables and expressions used represent real numbers unless otherwise indicated.
  2. Figures provided in this test are drawn to scale unless otherwise indicated.
  3. All figures lie in a plane unless otherwise indicated.
  4. Unless otherwise indicated, the domain of a given function f is the set of all real numbers x for which f(x) is a real number. 

The directions and format for the Grid-in questions are as follows:

Math Test Reference Information

The information below is provided on the SAT. However, it is important for you to know when and how to use these formulas without having to review them during test time. You should use the reference information on an as-needed basis, if necessary.