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SAT Questions

What’s on the SAT?

The SAT Reasoning Test is composed of three sections: Critical Reading, Writing, and Math.

SAT Critical Reading: This section contains multiple-choice questions that test sentence completion and passage-based reading. The SAT critical reading section takes 70 minutes (two 25-mininute sections and one 20-minute section).

SAT Writing: This section consists of multiple-choice questions and an essay and tests your ability to recognize sentence errors, improve paragraphs, and write an essay. The SAT writing section takes 60 minutes (two 25-minute sections, one 10-minute section).

SAT Math: This section is made up of multiple-choice and grid-in questions and tests Algebra, Geometry, Statistics & Data Analysis, and Geometry. The SAT math section takes 70 minutes (two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section).

How is the SAT scored?

The SAT is scored out of 2400. There are three sections, and each section is worth 800. The sections scores are added together to make up your total score.

Sample SAT score

Critical Reading











How is the SAT essay scored?

SAT essays are graded on a scale of 1 to 6 by two essay graders. The two scores are added together for your essay score. A perfect score on the SAT essay is 12. Your essay score is factored into your total writing score.

What’s a good score on the SAT?

A perfect score on the SAT is a 2400. A “good” score depends what college you want to go to. We recommend looking at schools' admissions pages on their websites to find out what scores specific schools require. This will help you set your goal score for the SAT.

Should I guess on the SAT?

Guessing isn't always the best choice to make on the SAT. A quarter of a point is subtracted from your score for every multiple-choice question you answer incorrectly. However, if you don't answer a question at all, nothing is subtracted from your score. This means, generally, that if you have no idea what the answer to the question is, it's better to skip it. However, if you are able to eliminate some of the answers to narrow down the choices, it may make sense to guess.

Will colleges see all my SAT scores?

The College Board, the company that administers the SAT, has a new policy on reporting your scores called Score ChoiceTM. Score Choice lets you choose the score you want colleges to see. That means if you take the SAT twice and your second score is higher, that's the only one the college you apply to will be able to see.

However, some schools choose not to participate in Score Choice so these schools can see all of your SAT scores. Make sure to check the policy of the schools you're applying to.

When should I take the SAT?

Generally, the best time to take the SAT is in the spring of your junior year. This gives you plenty of time to re-take the SAT, if necessary. Most students start preparing for the SAT by the fall of their junior year.

If you have any questions about your SAT testing timeline, please do not hesitate to contact us at (877) 738-7737. Our experienced and knowledgeable test prep counselors are always available to help you understand the college admissions process and plan your testing schedule.

Can I take a practice test to see how I’d do on the SAT?

Spring Branch administers the PSAT test (practice SAT) in the fall (October) of the junior year. Results, along with an explanation of those results will be given to the students.  From this, students can then plan their SAT test preparation strategies.  This testing is also the initial screening for The National Merit® Scholarship Program - an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955.

**Sophomores have an opportunity to take the PSAT on a weekend in October for a fee. (Usually around $30).  Sophomores who are serious about maximizing the PSAT score during the junior year for National Merit Consideration should consider this testing opportunity.  Only the junior year testing is considered for the National Merit Scholarship competition.**





reasoning test

Type of Test

content-based test

Critical Reading: 2, 25-min sections and 1, 20-min section; Math: 2, 25-min sections and 1, 20-min section; Writing: 1, 25-min essay, 1, 25-min section, and 1, 10-min section

Test Format

English: 1, 45-min section; Math: 1, 60-min section; Reading: 1, 35-min section; Science: 1, 35-min section; Writing: 1, 30-min essay (optional)

reading, vocabulary, grammar & usage, writing, and math

Content Covered

grammar & usage, math, reading, science reasoning, and writing (optional)

tricky, questions can be phrased in ways that make them difficult to decipher

Test Style

straightforward, questions may be long but are usually less difficult to decipher

Math, Critical Reading, and Writing scores will each range between a 200-800; total SAT score ranges between 600-2400


English, Math, Reading, and Science scores will each range between 1-36.  Composite ACT score is the average of your scores on the four sections; ranges between 1-36

yes – you lose ¼ of a point for incorrect answers (except on the grid-in math questions)

Penalty for Wrong Answers?

no – you do not lose points for incorrect answers

yes – you can choose which set(s) of SAT scores to submit to colleges

Score Choice?

yes – you can choose which set(s) of ACT scores to submit to colleges

questions increase in difficulty level as you move through that question type in a section (except reading passage questions, which progress chronologically through the passage)

Difficulty Levels

difficulty level of the questions is random

arithmetic, data analysis, algebra I and II, functions, geometry; formulas are provided in the test booklet

Math Levels

arithmetic, algebra I and II, functions, geometry, trigonometry; no formulas are provided

private schools; schools on the east and west coasts

Preferred by?

public schools; schools in the Midwest and south; however, every four-year college in the US accepts ACT scores

seven times per year: January, March or April, May, June, October, November, December

Offered when?

six times per year: February, April, June, September, October, December (note that some states offer the ACT as part of their state testing requirements; these tests are not administered on the national test dates)

typically about four weeks before the test date

Registration deadline?

typically about five to six weeks before the test date


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