SAT Format and Test Dates

SAT Format and Test Dates 2017-05-22T08:50:55+00:00

What is the SAT?

The SAT has been redesigned for the first time in eleven years. The SAT test was redesigned in March 2016, while the PSAT launched in October, 2015. The test has been redesigned to more accurately assess student preparedness for the demands of collegiate academics.

SAT Format

The SAT is a 3 hour 50 minute exam (including an optional essay which takes 50 minutes), consisting of five sections: Reading, Writing, Math (with calculator), Math (no calculator), and Essay (optional).

SAT Test Section # of Questions and Types Content Timing

reading & writing

52 standard multiple-choice

44 standard multiple-choice

  • Relevant words in context
    (Reading, Writing)
  • Command of evidence
    (Reading, Writing)
  • Expression of ideas
  • Standard English conventions
100 minutes
One 65-minute section

One 35-minute section


45 standard multiple-choice
13 student-produced response
  • The heart of algebra
  • Passport to advanced math
  • Problem solving & data analysis
80 minutes
One 25-minute section (no calculator)
One 55-minute section (calculator allowed)


1 evidence-based essay
  • Analyzing a source
50 minutes
One 50-minute essay

The SAT is a paper-based test administered at schools and sites around the country on select dates throughout the year. Students are allowed to take the test as many times as they want; most universities will only look at the highest score or the super-score (a combination of the highest sections). However, since the scoring format has changed, schools may tweak their policies accordingly. For more accurate information, please contact individual universities to confirm their score acceptance policy.

SAT Scoring/Guessing Penalty

College Board does not deduct any points for an incorrect question. This means that you should not leave any questions blank on the test. With the sections being longer than before however, pacing and timing, which your tutor will help you master, are critical.
The SAT scoring model has become more complex, providing a more detailed analysis and breakdown of students’ scores. Area scores, each scored out of 800, are combined to create a composite score for a maximum possible score of 1600. For a more detailed breakdown of what each score means, please see the table below.

Score Type Score Range Details

Composite Score

  • This score is the sum of the two area scores

Area Scores

Evidence-based reading & writing

  • The Evidence-based reading and writing score is the sum
    of the Reading test score and Writing & Language test score

Test Scores

Writing & Language

  • These scores tell you how you performed on individual test sections


(scored separately)

  • The essay is scored in three categories:
    Reading, Analysis, and Writing
  • Each category is scored from 2-8

Cross-Test Scores

History/Social Studies

  • These scores reflect your performance, categorized by the context of each question
  • Questions may span different test sections.


Relevant words in context (R, W&L)
Command of evidence (R, W&L)
Expression of ideas (W&L)
Standard English convention (W&L)
Heart of algebra (M)
Passport to advanced mathematics (M)
Problem solving & data analysis (M)

  • These 7 subscores will tell you how you did on specific question types or content.
  • Some subscores pull questions from multiple tests.

    R – Reading test
    W&L – Writing & Language test
    M – Math test

Order of Difficulty

Currently, College Board does not offer any information about the order of difficulty on the redesigned SAT. It is likely that only the math section will remain in order of difficulty for both the multiple choice and student-produced response questions in the Math section. Depending on your performance, your tutor can use order of difficulty to choose the pacing and test-taking strategies that will help you achieve the highest possible score.

SAT Test Dates

College Board has not officially released test dates and deadlines for the 2016-2017 year. The dates below are estimates only. However, based on past data, these tentative dates should be accurate within one week of the actual test date.

2016-2017 Test Dates Tests Offered Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline Online Score Release
March 5, 2016 SAT only February 5, 2016 February 23, 2016 Mid-May
May 7, 2016 SAT & Subject Tests April 8, 2016 April 26, 2016 Mid-June
June 4, 2016 SAT & Subject Tests May 5, 2016 May 25, 2016 Mid-July
October 1, 2016* SAT & Subject Tests September 2, 2016* September 16, 2016* October 20, 2016*
November 5, 2016* SAT & Subject Tests October 7, 2016* October 21, 2016* November 24, 2016*
December 3, 2016* SAT & Subject Tests November 4, 2016* November 18, 2016* December 22, 2016*
January 21, 2017 SAT & Subject Tests December 23, 2016* January 6, 2017* February 9, 2017
March 11, 2017* SAT only February 10, 2017* February 24, 2017* March 30, 2017*
May 6, 2017* SAT & Subject Tests April 7, 2017* April 21, 2017* May 25, 2017*
June 3, 2017* SAT & Subject Tests May 5, 2017* May 19, 2017* June 22, 2017*

Dates marked by an asterisk(*) are tentative.