The SAT and SAT Subject Tests

Developed by College Board, the SAT is a standardized test used by colleges in their admissions process. The SAT, which stands for Scholastic Assessment Test, is distributed several times during the school year and tests students on their abilities in critical reading, math, and writing. The exam is about four hours long and upon completion, a student will receive a score about three weeks after the exam that has a max score of 1600, 800 for each section. As a way for colleges to predict literacy and writing skills needed for college academic success, the test is a popular way for colleges to directly compare students. Here are some quick facts about the exam:

Total Time: 230 Minutes

Pacing: Medium, but the questions progressively become harder through each section. Time per question is 70 seconds

Cost: $51

Scoring: 1600 Points Total

Scoring Method: no points are taken off for incorrectly bubbled-in answers

Average US Score: (Critical Reading-496, Math-514, Writing-488; 1508 Total)


Time:   65 minutes (two 25-minute sections, one 20-minute section)

Score: 200-800

# of Questions: 52 (19 Sentence Completions, 48 Reading Comprehension)

Concepts: -Vocabulary in context

-Literal comprehension of passage-based reading

-Extended Reasoning


Time: 80 minutes (two 25-minute sections, one 20-minute section)

Score: 200-800

# of Questions: 58 (44 Multiple-Choice, 10 Grid-Ins)

Concepts: -Numbers and operations

-Algebra I and II functions

-Geometry and Measurement

-Data Analysis, statistics, and probability


Time:   35 minutes (one 25-minute section, one 10-minute section, one 25-minute essay scored 2-12)

Score: 200-800

# of Questions: 44 (18 Identifying Sentence Errors, 25 Improving Sentences, 6 Improving Paragraphs)

Concepts: Student Essay – successfully communicating a viewpoint and effectively supporting a position




Time:   25 Minutes (This section can be either Critical Reading, Math, or Writing)

*Although this section does not count into your score, it is still important to try your best on it because you won’t actually know which section is the experimental) 

The SAT Subject Tests

The SAT Subject Tests, also known as the SAT II’s, consist of 20 individual, hour-long exams that test a student in a certain subject of their choice. As a way to strengthen college credentials, many colleges (like the UC’s) have stopped requiring the exams, and are instead simply making them “highly recommended.” Each exam is scored between 200-800 points and students often can choose which scores they want to send to colleges. The colleges that require the SAT Subject Tests usually request scores from two different tests in two different categories.

Total Time:  60 Minutes each

Pacing:  Medium, but the questions progressively become harder through each section

Cost:    $24.50 for registration and first test, +$24 for each additional Language with Listening test, +$13 for each all other additional tests; can take 3 tests in one sitting

Scoring: 200-800 Points

Scoring Method:

Additional points are subtracted for incorrectly bubbled-in answers. Deductions are as follows:

  • Additional 1/4 point is subtracted for five-choice questions
  • Additional 1/3 point is subtracted for four-choice questions
  • Additional 1/2 point is subtracted for three-choice questions
  • No points subtracted for unanswered questions



  • Literature – ≈60 questions

History and Social Studies

  • United States History – 90 questions
  • World History – 95 questions


  • Mathematics Level 1 – 50 questions
  • Mathematics Level 2 – 50 questions (most colleges will only take this version of  the math test)


  • Biology – 80 questions; 60 of the 80 are common biology followed by 20 specialized questions in one of the two categories:
    • Ecological (biological communities, populations, and energy flow) or Microbiological (biochemistry, cellular structure, and processes, such as respiration and photosynthesis)
      • Chemistry – 85 questions
      • Physics – 75 questions

      Languages (without listening)

      • French – 85 questions
      • German – 85 questions
      • Modern Hebrew–85 questions
      • Italian – 80-85 questions
      • Latin – 70-75 questions
      • Spanish– 85 questions

Languages (with listening)20 minutes for listening questions and 40 minutes for reading questions

  • Chinese with listening – 95
  • French with listening – ≈ 85
  • German with listening – ≈ 85
  • Japanese with listening – 80
  • Korean with listening – 80
  • Spanish with Listening- 85