How Long is the SAT?

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The SAT test is a standardized exam created by Educational Testing Service to test your knowledge in critical reading, mathematical reasoning and writing skills. Many high school juniors or seniors take this exam so they can include their exam scores in their college admission packet. When you arrive to the official testing center on exam day, expect to be there for several hours to allow for check-in, testing and scheduled breaks.

SAT Exam

  • If you were to take the current SAT exam without any breaks and not include the time it takes you to stand in line and officially check in at the testing center, the test would take a total of 3 hours and 45 minutes. The new SAT version, due to be released in spring of 2016, will take a total of 3 hours plus 50 minutes for the optional essay portion.

Check-In and Breaks

  • Standing in line and checking in at the testing center can take awhile, so show up early with proper identification and two number 2 pencils. In most cases, the SAT is taken on a Saturday or Sunday and check-in is scheduled around 7:30 or 7:45 a.m. Since the SAT is broken into several smaller sections, breaks are scheduled in between test sections. Expect to be at the testing center until approximately 12:30 or 1:00 p.m.

Exam Section Time Limits

  • The current version of the SAT exam is broken into 10 sections: one 25-minute essay; six 25-minute sections for mathematics, critical reading and writing; two 20-minute sections for mathematics, critical reading and writing; and one 10-minute multiple-choice writing section. The redesigned SAT exam includes a 52-question reading section with a 65-minute time limit; a reading and writing section with 44 questions and a 35-minute time limit; a 57-question math section with a 80-minute time limit; and one optional essay section with a 50-minute time limit.

SAT Subject Tests

  • The basic SAT test covers reading, math and writing, but you can also take specific subject tests to prove your proficiency in specific areas. Twenty subject tests are available, covering five categories: English, history, mathematics, science and languages. Subject tests are all one hour long and use multiple-choice questions. The subject exams are usually optional, but your college of choice may require one or more subject exam scores for acceptance into specific, competitive programs.

References

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