Published Saturday, December 11, 2021 by Tifinie



The SAT is an exam administered by the College Board that evaluates students’ levels of knowledge of material covered in High School that they are expected to know before entering college.  Although the exam is not required for most college admissions both in and out of the United States, you are still highly encouraged to take it and submit it with your application.  This exam is generally taken by students in high school between their 10th and 12th grade years.  Seniors should have already taken the SAT if they want to be prepared when it comes time to applying for colleges in their senior year, but they still can take it during their senior year if they want or need to.

The SAT consists of three mandatory sections:  Reading, Writing/Language, and Math; and an optional section which is Essay Writing.


The Reading Section

The Reading section of the SAT has 52 questions and a time limit of 65 minutes.  It examines the following:

  1. Reading comprehension: students must accurately analyze the content of a passage to validate their ability to comprehend information.

  2. The use of evidence: students must use reasonable critical thinking skills to recognize evidence in a passage that will best support the answer they gave to the previous question, which serves as the basis for their analytical conclusion.

  3. The analysis of the argument: students must demonstrate their ability to identify the author’s use of evidence in supporting their arguments.


The Writing and Language Section

The Writing and Language section of the SAT has 44 questions and a time limit of 35 minutes.  It can be broken down as follows:

  1. Reading Passages: The Writing/Language section of the SAT has reading passages that are written specifically for the exam to intentionally present errors that students need to identify and correct.  All passages are several paragraphs long to engage students in editing and revising complex, real-world articles, demonstrating their ability to understand overall content and make an analysis based on information given throughout multiple paragraphs.

  2. Distinctive Features: The Writing/Language section of the SAT purposely contains questions designed to test different aspects of a student’s writing abilities.  At times, the exam will test a student’s ability to express and expand on ideas, where the students are expected to improve on the topic development, organization, and rhetorical effectiveness of a passage.  This part of the exam includes passages on the topics of science, history, and social studies.

  3. English and Grammar: Some questions in this section test a student’s ability to understand the standards of English conventions.  Students will be asked to edit text so that words, phrases, sentences, and punctuation are used appropriately and consistently with the standards of written English as on the Reading Test.

  4. Vocabulary: Some Writing and Language questions evaluate a student’s ability to understand words in context.  They ask the students to improve passages by carefully selecting words with purpose that best fit in the context of the sentence.

  5. Command of Evidence: Certain questions are designed specifically to evaluate a student’s ability to revise a passage in order to improve the development of information and ideas in an attempt to express them more effectively.   

  6. Informational Graphics: This section of the SAT contains passages that include tables, charts, graphs, and other forms of graphics containing information that the student must be able to analyze. Students are evaluated on their ability to draw connections between the graphics and the passages relating to them.  They might be asked, for example, to analyze a table or chart and then correct the corresponding passage based on their analysis of the information given. 


The Math Section

The Math section of the SAT is made up of two different parts.

  1. Math section, no calculator: This section contains 20 question and the students are given 25 minutes to complete it.  During this part of the exam, students are not allowed to use any calculator or devices.

  2. Math section, calculator permitted: This section is made up of 38 questions and students have 55 minutes to work through the problems.  During this part of the exam, students are allowed to use an approved calculator, which includes all scientific calculators and most graphing calculators.  (For more information on approved calculators, visit The College Board website at, click on the SAT section and then the article titled, “View the Test Day Checklist”) 

This section evaluates a student’s reasoning skills pertaining to mathematics, which reflects the success of mathematical teachings in schools across the country.  The Math section covers all mathematical techniques with more focus given to problem solving strategies, recognizing and solving algebraic equations, and the ability to use the appropriate tools strategically.


For more information on how to prepare for college admission exams, call Excel Test Prep at (510) 490-7000, click your way to our website at, or stop in at our office located at 4160 Technology Dr. in Fremont, CA!  We offer classroom courses, live-streaming online courses, and on-demand online courses that help students prepare for SAT, ACT, and AP exams.  We also offer help with college admission essays, exam proctoring services, 1-on-1 tutoring, and more!  Let us help you excel!

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