Meet the SAT®

What It Means for Your Child

The SAT is a 3 hour and 45 minute test that measures the critical thinking, mathematical reasoning, and writing skills that students need to do college-level work.

What Is the Test Like?

The test's three sections are divided into nine subsections, including a 25-minute essay, which are timed separately.

Section Tests Ability To
Critical Reading
(3 sections)
  • Understand and analyze what is read
  • Recognize relationships between parts of a sentence
  • Understand word meaning in context
(3 sections)
Solve problems involving:
  • Algebra and functions
  • Geometry and measurement
  • Number and operations
  • Data analysis, statistics, and probability
(3 sections)
  • Use standard written English
  • Identify sentence errors
  • Write an essay and develop a point of view
There are several breaks between sections, during which your child is welcome to eat or drink any snacks she has brought.

How Can My Child Prepare?

SAT Preparation Resources

Find resources to help your child prepare. Choose from our online SAT preparation or SAT preparation books. All include SAT questions, tips, and strategies from the test makers. Store

Visit the store to browse other test preparation and college planning resources.

How Does the Scoring Work?

Each SAT section is scored on a scale of 200-800. The average score on the SAT is about 500 on the critical reading portion, 500 on the math portion, and 500 on the writing portion. Some of the questions are easy, and some are hard, but the majority are of medium difficulty. Medium-difficulty questions are answered correctly by about 1/3 to 2/3 of students.

The SAT is designed so that a student who answers about half the questions correctly will receive an average score.

How Important Are SAT Scores?

The most important factor for college admissions is your child's high school transcript—judged by grades received and the rigor of the courses. SAT scores are intended to supplement your child's record (and other information, such as extracurricular activities and recommendations).

When Should My Child Take the SAT?

Most students take the SAT at national administrations during their junior or senior year in high school. However, there are no age or grade restrictions for taking the test.

At least half of all students take the SAT twice—in the spring of junior year and in the fall of senior year. What's more, most students improve their scores the second time around. All scores are reported to colleges, but colleges generally look only at the highest scores.

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