SAT Exam Syllabus 2023 - Section-Wise SAT Syllabus & Important Topics

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Cyril Zachariah
Updated on Mar 13, 2023 7:54 PM IST

The SAT exam is a standardised test designed to test the aptitude of students who have completed their high school education. Students who were attentive during their schooling years and performed well do not find the SAT preparation to be taxing. 

The exam is designed to measure students’ skills and abilities to interpret things and understand their clarity on the basic concepts of English and Mathematics. 

It covers the concepts of Reasoning, Maths, English, etc., and even though its syllabus is not specifically defined by the College Board, students can expect questions from general topics relevant to English, Reasoning, Maths, etc. from the high school syllabus. 

Students can check out this exam page to know about the important topics included in SAT syllabus, which every SAT aspirant needs to cover in order to score high in the exam.

SAT Exam Syllabus 2023

Designed to enrol students to the different undergraduate programmes, the SAT exam syllabus is determined by College Board, the official exam administrator. The SATs are conducted to allow both domestic and international students to get a better chance at enrolling in some of the top universities in the country.

Those planning to take the test this year must prepare for the SATs using all the best possible techniques, which includes having a good idea of the subjects and topics that need to be covered. With a detailed knowledge of the different topics and subjects, candidates will be able to better prepare for the test, dedicating specific hours to different sections and parts of the examination.

The College Board often makes changes to the SAT exam syllabus and has been over the past few years. Among some of the changes introduced by the College Board include the discontinuation of SAT subject tests, the removal of the optional SAT essay, and much more. Check the official website or this website to find the latest information about the exam for your attempt this year.

On this page, we have detailed the different topics and syllabi that you need to cover in order to ace the tests this year.

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SAT Reading Test Syllabus: Quick Overview

The SAT Reading test of the SAT 2022 exam focuses on testing the knowledge and skills of a student in terms of high school-level aptitude. This means that the section is designed to ask questions from test takers, which can be attempted easily and with comfortable effort if the candidate has an aptitude expectable from a student who has completed high schooling. Since it is a reading section, the questions based on passages and information are provided through pictorial representation such as graphs and charts. Test takers need to comprehend information from these given sources and use the same to answer the following questions. 

Here is an outline of the basic setup of SAT syllabus for the Reading section:


SAT Details

Type of Questions

Multiple Choice Questions

Number of Questions


Time Duration of the Section

65 minutes

Question Types

Follow-up questions based on information provided through,

  • One literary passage (fiction), and 

  • other (variable) informational passages (non-fiction)

Skills Tested

  • Ability to tell a story, 

  • make an argument, and

  • explain a study or experiment.

Level of Questions

9th grade level to the first year of college.

SAT Reading Test Syllabus Details

The pattern of the SAT reading test questions can be briefly summed up as: 

  • There are four individual passages and a pair of passages that are interlinked. The purpose of interlinked passages is to frame more profound and analytical questions.

  • The paired passages have infographics that include charts and tables. The questions do not need mathematical ability but the analytical and comprehensive skills are judged thoroughly.

  • The question types are factual, rhetorical and synthetic.

  • One literary or fictional passage is given while others are informational and non-fictional. 

  • The reading test contains passages from classical or contemporary works of US or world literature. The passages can also be based on US founding documents or text from the Great Global Conversation.

  • Some other topics that can come are basic concepts and developments in physics, chemistry, biology and Earth sciences. There will also be questions on subjects such as psychology, sociology, economics, and other social sciences.

SAT Writing and Language Test Syllabus: Quick Overview

SAT Writing and Langage test assesses test takers on their ability to grasp the written information and apply their critical and analytical skills. Additionally, linguistic skills of the candidates are also tested to determine their proficiency level in the English language. 

Here are some of the parameters and details which highlight the main characteristics of SAT syllabus for the Writing and Langauge section:


SAT Details

Type of Questions

Multiple Choice Questions

Total Number of Questions

44; 11 questions per passage

Time Allotted to the Section

35 minutes

Passages Based On

Career, Science, Humanities and History/Social Sciences

Passage Writing Modes

1 non-fiction narrative

1-2 Informative/explanatory texts, and 

1-2 arguments

Complexity Level

9th-10th grade to early post secondary

SAT Writing and Language Test Syllabus Details

SAT Writing and Language test syllabus is set according to the skills that the section aims to test. Before proceeding to understand the syllabus, first students need to check out the type of questions that are asked in the SAT Writing and Language section. The questions-based exam pattern of the test can be summarised as follows:

  • The total number of passages asked is four.

  • Each passage takes up one topic as its central theme. The topics are career, humanities, history or social sciences, and science.

  • Each passage is about 400 to 450 words in length with 11 questions based on the information provided in these passages. The total time allotted to attempt the entire test section is 35 minutes, which is approximately 48 seconds for each question. Since additional time is required to read the passage, it can be said that each question needs to be answered within 20-25 seconds to attempt the section wholly.

All 44 questions can be identified and bifurcated as follows:

  • Expression of Ideas: 24 questions, generally six per passage.
  • Standard English Conventions: 20 questions, generally five per passage.
  • Command of Evidence: Eight questions, generally two per passage.
  • Words in Context: Eight questions, generally two per passage.
  • Analysis in History/Social Studies: Six questions (all of the Expression of Ideas questions on the history/social studies passage)
  • Analysis in Science: Six questions (all of the Expression of Ideas questions on the science passage).

As far as the syllabus is considered, the candidates need to ensure that they are able to decipher the information given in the passages. Hence, their syllabus can be identified as:

  • Comprehension of short and long information related to varying topics and streams.

  • Critically analyses the information gathered and use the same to draw inferences and find solutions.

SAT Math Test Syllabus: Quick Overview

The SAT Math Test is divided into a Calculator portion and a Non-Calculator portion. Here is the summary of the SAT syllabus for the Mathematics section:


SAT Details

Type of Questions

Multiple choice and Student-Produced Response

Total Number of Questions


Time Allotted to the Test

Calculator Portion - 55 minutes

Non-Calculator Portion - 25 minutes

Questions Based On

Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Passport to Advanced Math, Additional Topics in Math

Passage Writing Modes

1 non fiction narrative, 

1-2 informative/explanatory texts, and 

1-2 arguments

Complexity Level

9th-10th grade to early post secondary

SAT Mathematics Test Syllabus Details

Students can refer to the topics discussed below for SAT Math Test 2023, and study and prepare for the same as the sectional syllabus.

Heart of Algebra

The topic covers the majority of the SAT Math test portion, with overall 19 questions. These questions expect students to:

  • Analyse and fluently solve linear equations and systems of linear equations.

  • Create linear equations and inequalities to represent described relationships between quantities and solve the same for answers.

  • Understand and use the relationship between linear equations and inequalities and their graphs to solve problems.

Problem-Solving and Data Analysis

The topic is attributable to the foundation of 17 questions in the test, each designed to test students for their ability to:

  • Create and analyse relationships using ratios, proportional relationships, percentages, and units.

  • Represent and analyse given quantitative data.

  • Finding and applying probabilities within the context.

Passport to Advanced Math

SAT Math test contains 16 questions based on principles of advanced mathematics, which include:

  • Identifying and creating equivalent algebraic expressions.

  • Creating, analysing, and fluently solving quadratic and other non-linear equations.

  • Creating, using, and graphing exponential, quadratic, and other non-linear functions.

Additional Topics in Math

There are various miscellaneous mathematics topics which are not covered by the above-mentioned branches, these contribute to design of six questions in SAT 2023, namely:

  • Solving problems related to area and volume.

  • Applying definitions and theorems related to lines, angles, triangles, and circles.

  • Working with right triangles, the unit circle, and trigonometric functions.

Contribution of Questions to Cross-Test Scores

  • Analysis in Science - 8 questions.

  • Analysis in History/Social Studies - 8 questions.

Note: The questions in the no-calculator portion are more conceptual in nature and do not require a calculator to be solved. They can be understood as questionable based on logical reasoning skills.

Refer to the SAT Practice Papers which have questions for each section of the exam.

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FAQs on SAT Syllabus

What is the difficulty level of the SAT Exam?

The difficulty level of SAT exam can be understood as equivalent to high school education until senior secondary. The test is used as a common entrance exam for admission to bachelor’s level courses. In order to achieve this aim, SAT test attests to the aptitude of the exam candidate. The majority of the exam is based on the concepts from the ninth standard to first-year of junior college, also known as the eleventh standard.

Is the SAT easier than JEE Mains?

Yes, according to student reviews and statistics, the SAT exam has been observed to be easier than JEE Mains. The exam design and related core subjects have a huge role in this comparison. While SAT exam scores are a common entrance exam for all types of bachelor’s courses, JEE Mains is used as an entrance exam for admission to B.Tech courses of prestigious IITs and MITs. However, the real difficulty level of the exam is dependent upon the candidate.

What type of questions will be asked in the Writing and Language section of the SAT exam?

The type of questions asked in the Writing and Language test section of the SAT exam is based on the four major skills which are to be tested by the section. Students need to solve the questions designed as Command of Evidence, Words in Context, Expression of Ideas, and Standard English Conventions. All of these require them to use the information provided or use the prompt to build up their own opinions and express the same.

How much time should I spend on the Writing and Language section of SAT?

As per the exam guidelines, all candidates sitting for SAT exam can spend a maximum of 35 minutes answering the Writing and Language section of the test. There are a total of 44  questions asked in the said section. Candidates are advised to start preparing as early as possible to ensure proper time management. Mock tests and practice tests can be extremely helpful in the exam preparation process. 

Which topics can be expected in the SAT Writing and Language Test?

The scope of topics, which can be expected in the SAT Writing and Language Test, is wide. Though the fictional essay is self-understood to be a literary piece, the non-fictional essays can be taken to be based on various topics of social sciences and sciences. You are expected to display your skills related to Command of Evidence, Words in Context, Expression of Ideas, and Standard English Conventions while solving the follow-up questions.

How much time will I get in the Reading Test Section of the SAT exam?

SAT exam candidates will get a total of 65 minutes to attempt the reading test section of the exam. There are 52 MCQ questions asked in the said SAT subtest, making the time allotted for each question less than 60 seconds. Candidates are recommended to prepare themselves according to the time available by sitting for various mock tests to get the hang of time management.

What does the SAT Reading Section evaluate in a student’s test performance?

The SAT Reading Section evaluates the analytical skills of the student, the ability to tell a story, make an argument, and explain an experiment or study. It further evaluates skills like determining the best evidence, interpreting data presented in graphics, drawing connections between text and graphics, etc. The student has to demonstrate all these skills by solving the questions based on given text information.

What are the common topics for the Reading Test in SAT exam?

The common topics for the Reading Test in SAT exam usually include history, social sciences, and sciences for the non-fictional passages. There are two types of passages asked in the test, fictional and non-fictional, each of which has to be read by the candidate and analysed to offer correct answers to the relevant questions. The non-fictional passages can also be accompanied by graphical representations of data such as charts, graphs, or tables.

What are the important topics included in Mathematics section for SAT exam?

The important topics included in Mathematics for the SAT exam 2022 are algebra, problem solving, data analysis, and advanced mathematical concepts. The exam will ask trigonometry, quadratic equations, and non-linear equations-based questions for advanced mathematical concepts. In addition, the exam shall be divided into two sections, one where a calculator is allowed and the other as the non-calculator test, which you need to attempt accordingly.

Were there any changes in the syllabus for SAT exam due to Covid-19?

No, there have been no changes in the syllabus for the SAT exam due to Covid-19. There have been certain changes initiated by the exam conducting authority, such as scrapping of SAT Essay and Subject test, however, these have no connection whatsoever with the global pandemic. They have been made to make the test more relevant to the students as well as the institutions to whom the scores are to be submitted.

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