SAT Exam - A Complete Overview


SAT Exam - A Complete Overview

The journey to higher education in North America (Canada and the USA) often begins with a pivotal step: the SAT Exam. The SAT Exam Overview provides a comprehensive insight into this standardised test. The SAT, originally known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, is now known as the Scholastic Assessment Test. Managed by the College Board, this exam is a key step for students aiming for Undergraduate studies to display their writing, verbal communication and math skills. It's been a significant part of many students' journeys, helping them get into top schools in the US and Canada.

However, the winds of change have swept through in recent times. Until 2022, students took this challenge with a pencil in hand, but innovation led to the SAT Digital Exam's inception. This newer and streamlined version is shorter by an hour and offers the convenience of digital devices. With the first SAT Digital Exam for international students taking place in March 2023, US aspirants eagerly await their turn in 2024. Dive deep into this SAT exam format and everything that you need to know about the SAT exam to start your academic voyage.



Administered by

College Board


Reading, Writing and Language, Math (with and without calculator)

Number of Questions

154 questions total


3 hours (plus 50 minutes for the optional Essay)

Exam Type

Standardized test

Mode of Exam

Digital Mode


Assess readiness for college, used in college admissions


Widely accepted by colleges and universities in the USA and worldwide

Score Validity

Typically valid for 5 years

Number of Attempts

No official limit, but restrictions may apply for frequent test-takers

Age Eligibility

No age restriction, and primarily taken by high school juniors and seniors

What is the SAT Exam?

The Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is a standardised exam that assesses high school students’ knowledge in Reading, Analytical skills and Mathematical Ability. International students applying for undergraduate courses abroad must take the SAT entrance exam and submit their scores to selected universities. The digital exam is conducted seven times a year across 30 Indian cities with centres in more than 50 partner institutions.

The SAT exam consists of two sections: Reading and writing and Mathematics. Each section is scored between 400-800 marks, with a total score of 1600 marks. The scores are consolidated based on marks per section, and once the section-wise marks are calculated, the total scores are released. SAT exam cutoffs vary per university of application. While some universities publish SAT cutoffs for admission course-wise, others do not. There is no average cutoff that can assess if an applicant can get through college admissions abroad or not.

Why SAT Exam?

The SAT is an important exam for students wanting to enrol in US undergraduate programs. Most US colleges consider SAT scores for undergraduate admissions. While some colleges have moved away from mandatory SAT scores, those that still consider them weigh them heavily.

  • This exam has multiple-choice questions covering English and Math. Some questions in the Math section may require you to produce an answer without having multiple-choice options.
  • The duration of the SAT has been reduced and is now only 2 hours and 14 minutes long. Additionally, many schools offer SAT scholarship money based on your SAT results and scores.
  • The SAT can enhance your application, giving colleges a standardised measure of your abilities.
  • You can take the SAT multiple times yearly to improve your scores.
  • Compared to the ACT, the SAT offers about 43% more time per question. Plus, you're not penalised for wrong or skipped answers.
  • It's a digital test, whereas the ACT remains paper-based and slightly longer. 
  • The SAT does not have a separate Science section, as Science concepts are tested through reading passages on the digital exam.

SAT Exam Types

The SAT exam is primarily divided into two distinct categories: the SAT General Exam and the SAT Subject Exam. Let's delve into the details of both.

SAT General Exam::

The SAT General Exam is a pivotal test for students aspiring to join American universities. Central to the SAT exam pattern, this test evaluates candidates' fundamental abilities in language, mathematics, and problem-solving. The SAT exam format for this general test measures their written, verbal, and mathematical skills, making it a popular assessment tool among undergraduate colleges. It is crafted to gauge not just the candidates' basic knowledge but also their aptitude for critical reasoning.

SAT Subject Test (No longer offered):

Previously, there was the SAT Subject Test, specifically designed to test students on their expertise in chosen subjects. Falling under this SAT exam pattern, these subject tests would gauge a student's proficiency in specialised areas, ranging from sciences and mathematics to languages. These tests served as an essential tool for colleges during both admission processes and determining course placements. Each of these exams lasted 1 hour, and students' scores would range from 200 to 800. Notably, a commendable score on an SAT Subject Test could sometimes lead to exemptions in college courses, like bypassing an initial composition class or a foreign language requirement.

SAT Accepted Nations

Beyond the boundaries of the US, the SAT is recognised and valued by institutions in 85 different countries. While the US boasts over 4,000 colleges that consider SAT scores for admissions, the UK has approximately 125 such institutions. Countries including Canada, India, Japan, Australia, Mexico, UAE, Malaysia, and Singapore also have universities with specific SAT exam requirements. It's vital for students to stay updated on the SAT exam dates and familiarise themselves with the SAT exam format when considering studying in these countries.

The Structure of the SAT Exam

  1. SAT tests analytical skills in:
    • English (reading and writing) and
    • Math.
The digital SAT Suite will utilize a multistage adaptive testing (MST) methodology. Adaptive testing has been used for large-scale digital standardized assessments for nearly 40 years. 

Figure 1: Digital SAT Suite Multistage Adaptive Testing Model

In a multistage adaptive SAT Suite test, each test section (Reading and Writing; Math) is divided into two equal-length and separately timed stages, each composed of a module of questions.
As illustrated in Figure 1,
Module 1: Students begin each test section by answering the set of questions in the first module. This module contains a broad mix of easy, medium, and hard questions that allows students to demonstrate their achievement before moving on to the second module.
Module 2: The questions in this second module are broadly targeted to the test taker’s achievement level based on how they perform in the first module; questions are either (on average) higher difficulty or lower difficulty than questions in the first module. This means that the test “adapts” to present questions that are more appropriate to a student’s performance level.


Reading and Writing Section

Math Section


Two-stage adaptive test design: one reading and writing section administered via two separately timed modules

Two-stage adaptive test design: one Math section administered via two separately timed modules

Number of Questions

Module 1: 27 questions

Module 2: 27 questions

Module 1: 22 questions

Module 2: 22 questions

Time per stage

Module 1: 32 minutes

Module 2: 32 minutes

Module 1: 35 minutes

Module 2: 35 minutes

Scores reported

200 – 800, in 10–point intervals

200 – 800, in 10–point intervals

Questions used

Discrete: four-option multiple-choice

Discrete: four-option multiple-choice (≈ 75%)

Student-produced response (SPR) (≈ 25%)

Stimulus topics

Literature, history, social studies, humanities, science

Science, social science, real-world topics

Informational graphics (tables, bar graphs, pie charts, line graphs, etc.)



How to Register for the SAT Exam?

Venturing into the SAT exam journey begins with the initial step of registration. If you are gearing up to register for the SAT exam, the process has been streamlined for you, allowing both online and email registration.

Online Registration for SAT Exam:

  • Starting Point: Navigate to the College Board website at Initiate your journey by creating a new profile.
  • Completing Details: Access and complete the SAT application form available on the website.
  • Student Profile Creation: Set up a comprehensive student profile with the required information.
  • Date and Centre Selection: During the process, you'll need to specify your preferred SAT exam dates and the test centre that suits you.
  • Photo Uploading: Attach a clear photograph as per the specifications mentioned.
  • Fee Payment: Proceed with the online payment for the exam. In scenarios where an international credit card isn't available, certain local banks offer suitable payment services.

Email Registration for SAT Exam:

Email registration is tailored for candidates who:

  • Are below 13 years of age.
  • Need a test centre closer to their residence.
  • Face challenges in uploading their photographs.
  • Opt for cheque payment for the SAT exam fee.

Steps for Email Registration:

  • Procure the SAT registration booklet, commonly available at test preparation institutions or your school's board.
  • Adhere to the guidelines within the booklet and fill out the application accordingly.
  • After ensuring all details are accurate, send the completed form alongside the application fee cheque to the address specified in the booklet.

Remember to stay updated on the SAT exam format and keep a check on the SAT exam dates to ensure timely completion of the registration.

Latest SAT Exam Fees for Indonesians 2024

For candidates in Indonesia looking to take the SAT exam, understanding the associated costs is crucial. Not only does this help in planning and budgeting, but it also ensures that one is not met with unexpected expenses. Here's a detailed breakdown of the SAT exam fees specific to Indonesia:

Fee Type


SAT Registration Fees

$60 + Non-U.S. Regional Fee

SAT Base Fee


Non-U.S. Regional Fee for Indonesia


Total SAT Registration


Test Centre Fee(Select Locations Only)


Change test centre


Cancel Registration fee


Late cancel fee


Late registration


Waitlist fee


Additional score report request

$14 Per Report

Rush reports


Scores by phone (per call)


Archived (older) scores order


Question-and-Answer Service


Student Answer Service


Multiple-choice hand score verification


SAT Exam Duration

The SAT exam duration is a critical aspect for students to understand and prepare for, as it directly impacts their test-taking strategy and performance. This standardized test, widely used for college admissions in the United States, is carefully timed to assess a range of skills from reading comprehension to mathematical ability. Here's a detailed breakdown of the SAT exam duration:

Total Duration

The core SAT exam, excluding the optional Essay section, is designed to last 3 hours. This timeframe is divided among different sections, each with a specific allotment of time.

Section-Wise Duration

  1. Reading Section: Allocated 65 minutes, this section includes passages followed by questions that test reading and analytical skills.
  2. Writing and Language Section: Students have 35 minutes to complete this part, which focuses on grammar, vocabulary, and editing skills.
  3. Math Section: This is divided into two segments:
    • With Calculator: For the calculator-allowed portion, students have 55 minutes.
    • Without Calculator: In the no-calculator segment, the allotted time is 25 minutes.

Optional Essay

If a student opts for the SAT with Essay, they get an additional 50 minutes. This section requires analyzing a given passage and writing an essay that evaluates the author's argument.


The SAT includes scheduled breaks, offering students a chance to rest briefly. These breaks are strategically placed to help maintain focus and performance throughout the exam.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

The College Board provides accommodations for students with documented disabilities, which may include extended time for the exam.

The SAT is an important exam for Indonesian students who want to study abroad, mainly in the US. With the availability of various SAT Scholarships and education loans, students can finally make their dreams come true. 

If you wish to study in the US or Canada, AECC is a great partner to help you achieve your goals. Take the first step towards your future and register for the SAT today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of SATs?
There are two main types: the general SAT (often referred to as SAT I) and SAT Subject Tests (commonly known as SAT II).

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