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The SAT: Sections and Scoring

If you are a high school student who wants to enter into an American University, you may already know a little about it! The SAT is the primary score that universities analyze- in addition to GPA and a few other key factors. This is particularly important for international students to consider as it is a key indicator of comparison for universities. Why, you may ask? Universities continually receive files from a global student population, and often the classes or grading systems are very different.  Universities may find this score more straightforward than differing curriculum or grading systems which are not as clear, and this score can be the competitive edge when only a few student spots are left.


What is the SAT exam?

Now, as many have discovered, the SAT is not a paper-based test where you can just memorize facts, but involves critical thinking and concentration. Its length of almost 4 hours also makes it a bit more challenging than other tests.

Broken into three primary sections- Essay & Verbal Reasoning, Reading, and Math2400 is the maximum points possible, with each section worth 800 possible points. Average scores for students vary, but the competition for scores of 2000 and above is increasing as schools become more and more selective.  This test is not a test one can just turn up for, but requires guidance, preparation, and practice!

Each section is worth between 200 and 800 points, with 0.25 deducted for each incorrect answer and zero points deducted for no answer at all. This type of scoring system is set up to dissuade students from guessing and is exceptionally important in the writing section, which has fewer questions than the critical reading or mathematics category.  The average score for each section varies, and it is most important to understand that the difference between achieving a 600 and 700+ in any section of the test is actually quite more challenging than one might think. This is why it is important to start studying early to achieve a target goal of 2000 or above- a must for the top universities.


 SAT Test Sections:
Critical Reading
  • 70 minutes Total 
  • 3 Critical Reading Sections 
    • (20 minute section) + (Two 25 minute sections) 
  • Sentence Completion
  • Short & Long Passages (60-850 words)
  • Maximum Score is 800
  • 70 minutes Total
  • 3 Math Sections
    • (20 minute section) + (Two 25 minute sections) 
  • Includes Algebra, Geometry, Statistics and Probabilities
  • Maximum Score is 800
  • 60 minutes Total
  • 3 Sections
    • Verbal Reasoning- 2 sections
      •  (25 minutes + 10 minutes)
    • Essay (25 minutes)--Always 1st section in test
  • Includes questions on:  grammar, structure, word usage
  • Maximum Score for Full section is 800
  • 3 hours and 45 minutes
  • 10 Sections
  • 3 breaks are given during the exam
  • Maximum Score is 2400