What is the SAT I?
The SAT I Reasoning Test has three different types of sections: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. In addition, there is one unscored section also known as the "experimental" section. What follows is information about each of these sections, what they test, and how they are scored.
The Unscored Section
- One 25-minute unscored section, known as the experimental or equating section.
- May be a critical reading, math, or multiple-choice writing section.
- Does not count toward the final score.
- Used to try out new questions for future editions of the SAT
- 25-minute essay will always be the first section of the SAT.
- 10-minute multiple-choice writing section will always be the final section.
- The remaining six 25-minute sections can appear in any order, as can the two 20-minute sections.
The Critical Reading Section Overview
|70 min. (two 25-min. sections and one 20-min. section)||Critical reading and sentence-level reading||Reading comprehension, sentence completions, and paragraph-length critical reading||200-800|
The critical reading section includes short reading passages and long reading passages as well as sentence completions.
The Mathematics Section Overview
70 min. (two 25-min. sections and one 20-min. section)
Number and operations; algebra and functions; geometry; statistics, probability, and data analysis
Five-choice multiple-choice questions and student-produced responses
The SAT also includes math topics such as negative and fractional exponents, absolute value, and function notation, and places emphasis on such topics as linear functions, manipulations with exponents, and properties of tangent lines.
The Writing Section Overview
Grammar, usage, and word choice
Multiple choice questions (35 min.) and student-written essay (25 min.)
- The short essay measures the ability to:
- Organize and express ideas clearly.
- Develop and support the main idea.
- Use appropriate word choice and sentence structure.
- Students are asked to develop a point of a view on an issue, using reasoning and evidence - based on their own experiences, readings, or observations - to support their ideas.
- The essay will be scored by trained high school and college teachers. Each reader will give the essay a score from 1 to 6 (6 is the highest score).
- The multiple-choice writing questions measure students' ability to:
- Improve sentences and paragraphs
- Identify errors (such as diction, grammar, sentence construction, subject-verb agreement, proper word usage, and wordiness).
Sample SAT Essay Prompts
Prompt 1: We must seriously question the idea of majority rule. The majority grinned and jeered when Columbus said the world was round. The majority threw him into a dungeon for his discoveries. Where is the logic in the notion that the opinion held by a majority of people should have the power to influence our decisions?
Adapted from James A. Reed, "Majority Rule"
Assignment: Is the opinion of the majority-in government or in any other circumstances-a poor guide? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.
Prompt 2: Given the importance of human creativity, one would think it should have a high priority among our concerns. But if we look at the reality, we see a different picture. Basic scientific research is minimized in favor of immediate practical applications. The arts are increasingly seen as dispensable luxuries. Yet as competition heats up around the globe, exactly the opposite strategy is needed. Adapted from Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, "Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention"
Assignment: Is creativity needed more than ever in the world today? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.
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