SAT Reasoning Test Sections

Each edition of the SAT Reasoning Test includes critical reading, mathematics, and writing questions divided into 10 test sections. 

Critical reading 
The critical reading questions are all multiple choice. They can have one of two formats: 

Sentence completion 
Passage-based reading with long and short excerpts from works in natural sciences, humanities, social sciences, and literary fiction
The questions assess students’ reading skills, such as: 

Identifying main and supporting ideas 
Determining the meaning of words in context 
Understanding authors’ purposes 
Understanding the structure and function of sentences
The mathematics section has two types of questions: 

Multiple-choice questions 
Student-produced responses
The questions require students to apply mathematical concepts and to use data literacy skills in interpreting tables, charts, and graphs. They cover skills in four major areas: 

Numbers and operations 
Algebra and functions 
Geometry and measurement 
Data analysis, statistics, and probability
The writing section consists of two types of questions: 

An essay 
Multiple-choice questions 
The multiple-choice questions ask students to: 

Recognize sentence errors 
Choose the best version of a piece of writing 
Improve paragraphs
SAT® section by section 
The SAT is three hours and 45 minutes long. It is broken into 10 sections: 

Three writing 
Three critical reading 
Three mathematics 
One variable (unscored)
The first section is always the essay, and the last section is also a writing section. In between, the academic content areas can come in any order. 

Content Minutes Total Time 
Writing (essay) 25 60 minutes 
Writing (multiple-choice) 25 
Writing (multiple-choice) 10 
Critical reading (multiple-choice) 25 70 minutes 
Critical reading (multiple-choice) 25 
Critical reading (multiple-choice) 20 
Mathematics (multiple-choice and student-produced response) 25 70 minutes 
Mathematics (multiple-choice) 25 
Mathematics (multiple-choice) 20 
Variable (unscored, multiple-choice) 25 25 minutes 

The unscored section 
One of the 25-minute sections is unscored. This "variable" or "equating" section may have critical reading, mathematics, or multiple-choice writing questions. It does not count toward the final score but is used to try out new questions and to ensure that scores on new editions of the SAT are comparable to scores on earlier editions. 

Test book variations 
Test-takers sitting next to each other in the same testing session may have test books with an entirely different sequence of the 25-minute and 20-minute sections.