SAT Exam Pattern 2021

Updated by: Subhashri Roy on Sept. 29, 2021, 12:55 p.m.

  • Mode


SAT Exam Pattern 2021

The College Board prescribes the exam pattern for the SAT that has a total of four tests. The three tests include the Reading Test, the Writing and Language Test and the Math Test. Candidates who appear for the SAT entrance exam can apply for admission to various universities abroad using the SAT scorecard. Countries that accept the SAT scorecards are USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Singapore. Some of the popular universities that require SAT scores for admissions are Florida International University, Simmons University, University of Central Florida, Georgia Institute of Technology, Florida State University, University of South Florida, Georgetown University, University of Florida etc. Top universities like the University of MassachusetsUniversity of IdahoPurdue UniversityUniversity of WashingtonUniversity of Michigan are SAT test-blind universities but encourage students to take the SAT.   

It should be noted that the College Board includes test questions for research purposes from time to time. In such cases, additional time is provided to attempt the questions. These questions will not be included in the calculation of your score.

Latest Update (as of January 19, 2021): The SAT subject tests have been scrapped along with the optional essay.

Need Help With SAT Preparation?

Also Read: 

More Than 1200 Universities in the US Make SAT/ACT Optional How is SAT Score Calculated?
SAT vs. ACT: Which Exam Should You Take? Popular USA Universities That Don't Require SAT Scores

SAT 2021 Exam Pattern Highlights

SAT Exam Duration 3 hours
Total Number of Sections 3 {Essay Scrapped Due to Covid-19}
Total Number of Questions 154
Mode of SAT Exam Paper-based
Medium of Instruction English
Negative Marking No
Score Range 400-1600

SAT New Exam Pattern 2021

The College Board, the conducting body for SAT 2021, has announced that the SAT subject tests have been scrapped in the United States and it will be discontinued internationally after June 2021. Additionally, the SAT optional essay has also been scrapped.

Category New SAT Exam Pattern
  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Test
  • Math
Key Features
  • Emphasises on knowledge, skills, and understandings.
  • Emphasises on the meaning of words in extended contexts and the impact of word choices on the meaning and the sentence
  • No penalty for wrong answers
  • Ranges between 400 and 1600
  • Scale ranges from 200 to 800 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing; and 200 to 800 for Math.
Total Duration 3 hours
Subscore Reporting Subscores provided for educators, counsellors, etc. 

Section-Wise Distribution of Questions in SAT 2021

The section-wise distribution of questions or exam pattern of SAT Reasoning Test 2021 has been given in the table below.

Section/Components Number of Questions/Tasks Time Allotted (in minutes)
Reading 52 65
Writing and Language 44 35
Math 58 80
Total 154 180

SAT Reading Section Exam Pattern

The reading section of the SAT contains passage, based on which, the questions are formed. Multiple Choice Questions will be the question format followed for this section.  After reading the passage, candidates need to choose the most suitable option based on what is implied in the passage. Few questions are also based on the tables and graphs that can be included in the passage. 

The passage is usually a published work and/or related to history, literature, science or social studies. 


4- 5

Number of Questions



65 minutes

Types of Questions

Multiple Choice Questions

Passage Reference

Published Works, Articles, Literature, History, Social Studies, Science

SAT Writing Section Exam Pattern

The SAT Writing Section includes passage-based questions. After reading the passage, candidates will have to answer multiple-choice questions which includes editing the text or phrases, correcting the errors, sentence restructuring, usage of punctuations etc.

For some questions, candidates will have to improvise the passage to analyse how good the candidate is in expressing an idea. The questions may also be asked in the form of tables or graphs.



Number of Questions



35 minutes

Types of Questions

Multiple Choice Questions


  • Edit text/ passage

  • Sentence correction

  • Find the Error

  • Sentence Structure

  • Correct use of Punctuation

SAT Math Section Exam Pattern

The Math section of the SAT is used to analyse the mathematical aptitude of the candidates. Candidates are not allowed to use a calculator while attempting the SAT Math questions.

Number of Questions



80 minutes

Types of Questions

Multiple Choice Questions


  • Heart of Algebra

  •  Problem Solving

  •  Data Analysis

  • Geometry

  • Trigonometry

  • Complex Numbers

What does the SAT Writing and Language Test Measure?

  • Command of Evidence: Such questions will analyse the candidate's ability to sharpen an argumentative claim through relevant evidence mentioned in the passage.

  • Study of Topics in Various Subjects: Some passages would be around history, science or social studies. Here. candidates may be asked to edit and make the appropriate changes to improve or enhance the information.

  • Words in Context: Here, the candidate's ability to choose the right word based on context will be tested. The goal is to make the passage precise, clear and improve the tone, among other things.

  • Ability to Express Ideas: Here, the candidate's potential to organize, improve and help make sentences and paragraphs work together properly will be analysed. 

  • General English Construction: Sentence structure, punctuation, usage of words, verb tense, subject-verb agreement, parallel construction, etc. are the skills and knowledge of the candidate that will be evaluated.

What does the SAT Reading Test Measure?

  • Command of Evidence: The candidate's ability to Find the relevant evidence in support of the answer in the best possible way, will be evaluated.

  • Words in Context: Such questions will focus on the words and phrases used based on different subjects.

  • Ability to Deduce: Answers will be based on the text stated or provided in the passage. Thus, a candidate's ability to interpret the test and the answers aptly will be evaluated.

  • Examining Hypotheses: A candidate will be evaluated in his or her ability in finding the right meaning of the content specified. 

What does the SAT Math Test Measure?

  • Fluency: It will test how a candidate is able to solve the problem accurately, flexibly and also identifies the efficient approaches to reaching the solution through the given information.

  • Understanding of Concepts: Candidates will have to prove his/her ability to understand math concepts, relations and operations.

  • Applications: Here, a candidate's ability to examine a situation and find out the elements to solve the given problem, will be evaluated.

FAQs on SAT Exam Pattern

1. What is the exam pattern for SAT 2021?

The exam pattern followed for SAT 2021 includes a 3-hour paper and pen-based test. Students will be asked to attempt a total of 154 questions. From 2021, the Essay and Subject Test of SAT has been discarded.

2. Will there be negative marking for answering incorrectly or missing out on questions?

No, SAT does not penalise students for incorrectly answering or leaving questions.

3. What is the medium of instruction for SAT Tests?

The SATs are conducted in the English Language across the world.

4. How many questions are there in each section of the SAT?
There are 3 compulsory sections, namely, Reading, Writing & Language and Math. Currently, the SATs include 52 questions in Reading, 44 questions in Writing & Language and 58 questions for Mathematics. From 2021 onwards, the SAT essay has been discarded.

5. What is the exam pattern for SAT Subject Test 2021?

The College Board has scrapped the SAT subject from 2021 onwards. You can learn more about the latest updates on SAT Subject Tests in the following link: SAT Exam: Subject Test has been Discarded

6. What is the time allotted for each section in SAT 2021?

The time allotted for different sections in SAT 2021 is - 65 minutes for the Reading section, 35 minutes for the Writing and Language section and 80 minutes for the Mathematical section.

7. What are the areas on which the SAT Math Test essentially focuses?    

The SAT Math Test focuses majorly on three essential areas including Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Heart of Algebra, and Passport to Advanced Math.

8. Are all questions in the SAT Writing and Language Test multiple choice?    

Yes, all questions asked in the SAT Writing and Language Test are multiple-choice and based on passages.

9. Is essay on the SAT optional?    

Yes, the 50-minute essay on the SAT is optional which only some colleges might require.

10. How much time is allocated to each question on the SAT?    

For each question on the SAT, 1 minute and 10 seconds are given for candidates to answer.

Want to Apply to One of World's Top Universities?

Admission 2021

Preparing for SAT?

Contact Us

We’re here to help!

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.

Interested in Studying Overseas?

Connect with us and kickstart your learning journey for a rewarding experience!

  • +91

By proceeding ahead you expressly agree to the CollegeDekho terms of use & privacy policy.