SAT Format and Test Dates

SAT Format and Test Dates2019-07-24T14:15:16+00:00

What is the SAT?

The SAT test was redesigned for the first time in eleven year in March 2016, while the PSAT launched a new version in October 2015. The test was 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 changed in 2016, 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 quite long, pacing and timing are crucial. Your tutor will help you master these skills.

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

Only the math sections are loosely based on order of difficulty for both the multiple choice and student-produced response questions. Depending on your performance, your tutor can use order of difficulty to choose the pacing and test-taking strategies that will help you achieve your highest possible score.

SAT Test Dates

Below are official test dates for the SAT’s 2019-2020 season. Check out our downloadable PDF here: SAT & ACT Test Dates 2019-2020 To view College Board’s official release of test dates, please reference this link.

2019-2020 Test Dates Tests Offered Registration Deadline Online Late Registration Deadline Online Score Release*
August 24, 2019 SAT & Subject Tests July 26, 2019 August 13, 2019 September 6, 2019
September 9-11, 2019
October 5, 2019 SAT & Subject Tests September 6, 2019 September 24, 2019 October 18, 2019
October 21-23, 2019
November 2, 2019 SAT & Subject Tests October 3, 2019 October 22, 2019 November 15, 2019
November 18-20, 2019
December 7, 2019 SAT & Subject Tests November 8, 2019 November 26, 2019 December 20, 2019
December 23-25, 2019
March 14, 2020 SAT & Subject Tests February 14, 2020 March 3, 2020 March 27, 2020
March 30-April 1, 2020
May 2, 2020 SAT & Subject Tests April 3, 2020 April 21, 2020 May 15, 2020
May 18-20, 2020
June 6, 2020 SAT & Subject Tests May 8, 2020 May 27, 2020 July 15, 2020
July 15-17, 2020

*The first date is when multiple-choice scores are released, the second date is when complete scores are released.

Additional Resources

Don’t stop here! Check out our blog for new posts about preparing for the SAT. Below are a few posts you may find useful.

Though it’s tempting to simply say you want to score “as high as possible” on your college admissions exam, a target score will help you determine how much of your limited time and energy you devote to test preparations. So how should you determine you target score? There are several factors to consider… READ MORE

You’ve probably heard the solid advice that you shouldn’t wait until the last minute to prepare for college admissions tests. But when is the right time to prep for the SAT or ACT? Here are some thoughts to consider… READ MORE

So you’ve taken a class, or even had a private tutor help you prepare for your test. Is there anything else you can do? While private tutoring remains the most efficient way to improve your score… READ MORE