SAT Exam Pattern 2023 - Marking Scheme, Duration, Section-wise Test Pattern

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Samarpita Goswami
Updated on Mar 07, 2023 10:29 AM IST

The College Board prescribes the SAT exam pattern which has a total of two tests. They are the evidence-based Reading and Writing test and the Math Test. Questions asked in the exam are multiple-choice questions (MCQs). SAT Math section is divided into two parts- one without a calculator and the second one with a calculator.

It should be noted that the College Board includes test questions for research purposes from time to time. In such cases, additional time is provided to attempt the questions. These questions will not be included in the calculation of your score. Scroll through this page for in-depth details on the SAT exam pattern.

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Highlights of SAT New Exam Pattern 2023

The following table shows a new exam pattern for the SAT exam 2023:


New SAT Exam Pattern


Reading Test

Writing and Language Test


Key Features

Emphasise knowledge, skills, and understanding.

Emphasises the meaning of words in extended contexts and the impact of word choices on the meaning and the sentence

No penalty for wrong answers


Ranges between 400 and 1600

The scale ranges from 200 to 800 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing; and 200 to 800 for Math.

Total Duration

2 hours

Mode of Exam Digital

Subscore Reporting

Subscores are provided for educators, counsellors, etc. 

What is Digital SAT?

The digital SAT, a new version of the SAT released by CollegeBoard is now available for US and international students. The features of this exam are similar to paper-based SAT exams. The similarities between the two test formats are:

  • The total score for SAT is 1600. 

  • Scale conversion is similar. A score of 1300 in SAT is 1300 in the Digital SAT as well.

  • The testing site is a test centre or school.

  • Subjects include Mathematics, Reading and Grammar.

  • The question paper format is multiple choice.

  • The preparation process is the same.

Each of the three sections will be separated into two modules, and the performance will be examined on the basis of the level of the module. Each student will have a unique computer-adaptive test that will precisely measure the performance. At present, the SAT is taken through pen and paper mode, but the Digital SAT will be taken through a computer, laptop or tablet. Students can bring or borrow the devices from the SAT test centre. The reduced duration of SAT from 3 to 2 hours will make it more convenient to take the test. To ensure that the responses are not lost due to network connectivity issues, there will be an autosave feature.

The SAT Digital format timeline is given below:



March 2023

The international centres will start administering the test.

Fall 2023 (October) 

All test centres will conduct digital PSAT worldwide.

Spring 2024

USA test centres will administer the test

Which Countries Accept the New SAT Exam?

Overview of the New SAT Exam Pattern 2023

Here is an overview of the new SAT exam pattern. The SAT format has been modified every few years, but sources indicate that this is the most significant SAT upgrade yet. Here is what is new in the new SAT format, as well as other SAT Digital material!

A New and Shorter SAT Exam

The SAT Exam will now last two hours rather than three. Instead of four divisions, there will now be only two: reading and writing and math. The reading component will consist of shorter readings, with students answering one question in each SAT reading paragraph. The arithmetic questions will be 'less wordy' as well. These adjustments ensure that students remain informed and make their own ideas rather than being passive recipients of knowledge. Examinees will also have additional time to answer the questions.

SAT Scores Will be Delivered More Quickly

The SAT results will be available days rather than weeks following the exam. As a result, candidates will no longer have to wait weeks or months for the SAT exam result report, allowing them to apply to universities more swiftly.

Use of a Calculator Throughout the Math Section

The SAT 2022 included a calculator and non-calculator Math sections. The new SAT format 2023, on the other hand, permits students to utilise calculators for the entire math portion. For test-takers who do not have their separate calculator, a graphic calculator will be included in the digital testing programme. This removes a barrier for students and schools with little resources. SAT also intends to include a timer, a reference sheet, and a flagging feature to mark pending questions for review in the digital edition of the testing app.

Each Test will be Different

The College Board can provide a separate exam to each student because of the SAT digital format, which eliminates cheating and test security difficulties. An introductory module will precede each section. The level of all subsequent questions will be determined by the student's performance on the first set of questions. The test's adaptive nature assists students in connecting to numerous job opportunities, courses, and training programmes.

Benefits of the New SAT Exam Pattern 2023

As compared to the paper-based SAT exam, the digital SAT has its own advantages. The benefits of the new SAT exam pattern 2023 are:

  • Quicker Test: This SAT version will be more productive as students will not have to sit through a 3-hour long test. They can finish the test within 2 hours and it's not time-consuming at all.

  • Tests Time Management Skills: As the exam is shorter, students need to be more productive. There are on-screen tickers and timers that help in time management by counting down the time throughout the test with a warning when only five minutes are left.

  • Multiple Attempts: Students can enjoy the benefits of taking up to seven attempts in a year. This leaves them more scope if they are underprepared.

  • Concise Questions: More direct questions will be asked than before with shorter segments that will allow more time for each question. 

  • New Tools: There will be a calculator and a clock on the screen with convenient switching of questions and intelligible mathematical formulas. 

  • Individually Personalised Test: As it is a computer-adaptive test, the number of correct answers in the first stage will determine the difficulty level of questions in the following sections. This component helps students to stand out. 

Section-Wise Distribution of Questions in SAT 2023

The SAT exam focuses mostly on the two parts EBRW and Maths, although some universities additionally require optional essay section scores throughout the application process.


Number of Questions

Time Allotted (in Minutes)

Score Range (in Points)

EBRW (Evidence-based Reading and Writing)



200 to 800




200 to 800

Essay (optional)



2 to 8

Total (without essay)


180 (3 hours)

400 to 1600

SAT Exam Pattern 2023: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

With the SAT score of 200 to 800, the SAT EBRW (Module 1) is divided into two sections: reading and writing and language. The SAT section score is calculated by adding the scores of two EBRW parts. The EBRW section consists of 96 questions that must be answered in 100 minutes. This exam primarily assesses students' ability to read and write.


Types of Questions

Reading Test

  • Rhetoric

  • Synthesis

  • Command and evidence

  • Information and Ideas

  • Words in context

Writing and Language Test

  • Standard English convention

  • Usage of transitions

  • Expression of Idea

  • Use of accurate and correct use of text

Reading Test

The SAT Reading test follows the following pattern:

  • With a time restriction of 65 minutes, the reading section consists of 52 multiple-choice questions.

  • This SAT exam format consists of 5 passages followed by multiple-choice questions based on the passages.

  • These are excerpts from earlier works published in books or periodicals on literature, social studies, and science.

  • A handful of them also provide charts and graphs linked to the texts.

  • This test assesses a person's ability to comprehend, locate, and analyse evidence in passage content.

Writing and Language Test

The SAT writing and language test pattern is as follows:

  • This writing and language examination consists of 44 multiple-choice questions with a time constraint of 35 minutes.

  • It consists of 4 passages, each followed by 11 multiple-choice questions.

  • Furthermore, two passages include pictorial infographics, charts, or graphs with the written content.

  • The framework of the exam includes questions that might assess a candidate's understanding of grammar, rhetoric, style, and usage of the English language.

SAT Exam Pattern 2023: Maths

The new SAT exam pattern for the Maths section is as follows:

  • The module is made up of multiple-choice questions, each with only one correct answer.

  • Calculators are permitted throughout the new digital SAT exam format 2023. Unlike today, when calculators are only allowed on one SAT Math test, students can bring their own or use the built-in graphing calculator.

The 'Student-Produced Responses' section of Module 2 will include:

  • "Grid-in" questions and replies that can now contain negative integers.

  • Students may enter up to 5 or 6 numerals or symbols. There will be five spaces for positive numerals such as '1.567,' and six spaces for negative integers such as '-1.567.'

Note: There will be one break (with a timer) between the two SAT exam modules, which may differ for each candidate. Scores will be provided within a few days rather than weeks due to speedier administrative processing. Score reports connect students to scholarships, college information, and practice suggestions. Nonetheless, with the digital SAT, students can upload their exam results to workforce training and two-year college programmes.

SAT Essay Test Exam Pattern

Even though the essay test is optional for candidates, several universities still demand SAT essay scores during the admissions process. This is done to better comprehend a candidate's mental process and to gain insight into their personality. This test has additional expenses in addition to the standard SAT registration fee.

  • Within the allowed period of 50 minutes, candidates must compose an essay on a specific topic.

  • Furthermore, exam takers must read, comprehend, and assess the required remark or speech, as well as the author's reasoning and eloquence.

  • The essay scores vary from 2 to 8 points in three categories: reading, writing, and analysis.

What does the SAT Writing and Language Test Measure?

The SAT Writing and Language Test measures the following:

  • Command of Evidence: Such questions will analyse the candidate's ability to sharpen an argumentative claim through relevant evidence mentioned in the passage.
  • Study of Topics in Various Subjects: Some passages would be around history, science or social studies. Here. candidates may be asked to edit and make the appropriate changes to improve or enhance the information.
  • Words in Context: Here, the candidate's ability to choose the right word based on context will be tested. The goal is to make the passage precise, and clear and improve the tone, among other things.
  • Ability to Express Ideas: Here, the candidate's potential to organize, improve and help make sentences and paragraphs work together properly will be analysed. 
  • General English Construction: Sentence structure, punctuation, usage of words, verb tense, subject-verb agreement, parallel construction, etc. are the skills and knowledge of the candidate that will be evaluated.

What does the SAT Reading Test Measure?

The SAT Reading Test is used to test the following:

  • Command of Evidence: The candidate's ability to find the relevant evidence in support of the answer in the best possible way, will be evaluated.
  • Words in Context: Such questions will focus on the words and phrases used based on different subjects.
  • Ability to Deduce: Answers will be based on the text stated or provided in the passage. Thus, a candidate's ability to interpret the test and the answers aptly will be evaluated.
  • Examining Hypotheses: A candidate will be evaluated in his or her ability in finding the right meaning of the content specified. 

What does the SAT Math Test Measure?

The SAT Mathematics section tests the following skills of test-takers:

  • Fluency: It will test how a candidate is able to solve the problem accurately, and flexibly and also identifies the efficient approaches to reaching the solution through the given information.
  • Understanding of Concepts: Candidates will have to prove his/her ability to understand math concepts, relations and operations.
  • Applications: Here, a candidate's ability to examine a situation and find out the elements to solve the given problem, will be evaluated.

Need to Know the Top Universities that Accept SAT Scores?

FAQs on SAT Exam Pattern

What is the exam pattern for SAT Subject Test?

The exam pattern of SAT Subject Test is designed to measure candidates' expertise in each section. The SAT Subject Test exam has a total time limit of 60 minutes, and there are 20 subjects from which students may select. Candidates are graded on a scale of 800 maximum points.

Are all questions in the SAT Writing and Language Test multiple choice?

Yes, all questions in the SAT Writing and Language Test are multiple choice questions based on passages. Students are required to read the passage carefully and then answer the questions accordingly. These can be tricky at times so the candidate must not rush while answering the questions.

Is the essay included in the SAT exam optional section?

The SAT essay section was optional but now the SAT Essay has been scrapped during Covid-19. While there were various colleges that had already made SAT Essay scores optional, this move by the CollegeBoard concludes that no college now requires the SAT Essay.

Does the SAT exam pattern change every year?

No, the SAT exam pattern does change every year. It is a three-hour paper and pen-based test. Students need to attempt a total of 154 questions. Only during the Covid-19, from 2021 onwards, the Essay and Subject Test of SAT has been discarded. No other changes have been made to the SAT exam pattern. 

What does the Math section on SAT exam focus on?

The Math section on the SAT exam majorly focuses on essential areas such as Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Heart of Algebra, and Passport to Advanced Math, Number and Operations, Geometry and Measurement, and Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability.

What is the time allotted for each section in SAT exam?

The time allotted for different sections in SAT exam is - 65 minutes for the Reading section, 35 minutes for the Writing and Language section and 80 minutes for the Mathematical section. So, candidates are advised to use their time wisely.

How many questions are there in each section of the SAT?

There are three compulsory sections in the SAT exam: Reading, Writing & Language and Math. Currently, the SAT exam includes 52 questions in Reading, 44 questions in Writing & Language and 58 questions for Mathematics. From 2021 onwards, the SAT essay has been scrapped.

What is the medium of instruction for SAT exam?

The SAT exam is conducted in the English language across the world. Candidates should read each and every question carefully and answer them accordingly. If the candidate is taking the SAT exam for the first time then they should download some sample papers and attempt a few practice tests before the main exam.

Will there be negative marking for answering incorrectly or missing out on questions?

No, there is no penalty for a wrong answer or for leaving an answer blank in the SAT exam. However, candidates should ensure that they answer each question within the time limit. Skipping or not answering a question can affect their overall marks in the end.

How much time is allocated to each question on the SAT exam?

Each question on the SAT exam is allocated a time of one minute and ten seconds, but some of the tougher questions may require more time. The duration of SAT exam is three hours. As per experts, the key to achieving a good score on SAT is how well candidates can manage their time for each section.

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