SAT Exam Syllabus (Updated 2020) | SAT Exam Pattern (Section Wise)

SOURCE: Aman Dhattarwal

The SAT exam is a common standardized test helping the university in examining where the candidate objectively stands in terms of merit. The test helps the universities and examiners in figuring out the preparation level of the student, and judge them on their skills developed since the past school.

Analyzing the SAT Exam Syllabus is an equally important process in order to get a fair idea about the pattern of the exam, as well as the time structure that can help in making a strategy to crack the exam. The duration of the exam is three hours, and 50 minutes extra for attempting the essay. Marks are in the range of 400 to 1600 points.

SAT Exam Syllabus

  1. The examination has four sections.
  2. Reading, Writing, Language, and Mathematics are the sections.
  3. It also includes an additional optional essay.
  4. The reading section has 52 questions and needs to be attempted in 65 minutes. 
  5. Writing and Language Section has 44 questions that need to be attempted in 35 minutes.
  6. The mathematics section has 58 questions and 80 minutes to attempt in.
  7. An essay has 50 additional minutes to attempt. Please remember that it is an optional paper. 
  8. In the Writing Section, questions revolve around sentence structure, punctuation, grammar usage, etc.
  9. The reading Section includes questions centered around analyzing data based on diagrams and charts, inference of a phrase in a paragraph, etc.
  10. Mathematics has Algebra, Data Analysis, and Problem Solving, Advanced Maths, etc.

SAT Exam Syllabus 2020

The SAT exam is a standardized examination that helps the university in examining the applicant in terms of the merits he/she has in an objective way. The test is useful for the examiner and university in understanding the preparation level of the student, along with judging the students on their skills which they have developed since the past schooling.

The SAT Exam has a comprehensive syllabus which is important to give a fair idea about what the examination seeks. While the duration of the exam is three hours, an additional 50 minutes are given to attempt the optional essay. The marks are in the range of 400 to 1600 points. 

How to prepare For SAT Exam Syllabus 2020

  1. Register for the test
  2. Get an idea about the test format and structure
  3. Familiarize yourself with the question styles and content.
  4. Figure out weaknesses.
  5. Set a goal that you can score.
  6. Make a proper and demarcated study plan for each section of the exam.
  7. Read and review all the important content.
  8. Learn the test strategies in order to crack the different sections.
  9. Practice, Practice, and Practice.
  10. Be ready on the test day!

SAT Exam Dates 2020

For admission to colleges in the academic year 2020, the SAT 2020 dates are:

  1. 14th March 2020
  2. 2nd May 2020
  3. 6th June 2020

There are no official dates for 2020 exams held for admission in the academic year 2021-22. However, as the dates fall on the first Saturday of fixed months, the dates can be estimated. So for admission in 2021-22, the dates falling in the year 2020 maybe,

  • 29th August 2020
  • 3rd October 2020
  • 7th November 2020
  • 5th December 2020

SAT Exam Syllabus: Writing Section

The Writing Section of the SAT exam tests the candidates on the basis of evidence-based reading and writing skills. This portion has a total of four passages which are followed by 44 Multiple Choice Questions. In the duration of 35 minutes gives to this section, the candidate will have to comprehend the passages and answer the questions asked accordingly.

The topics of the articles are centered around the topics which are generic in nature and which don’t require any prior knowledge on the subject. Certain passages have graphs and charts as a supplement to help the examiner assess your imperative skills.


  1. The passages will revolve around generic topics like environment, history, social sciences, and humanities.
  2. The answers following the questions asked from the essay have to be answered. 
  3. Some examples include writing the Sentence Structure, writing the verbs, correcting punctuation, grammar usage, parallel construction, etc. 
  4. Questions may also be asked to strengthen/weaken an argument.
  5. Structural changes in order to improve readability will be asked. 

How to prepare

  1. Solve online test series.
  2. Start attempting answers on sample questions.
  3. Read the newspaper.
  4. Writing always helps. You can either start with blogging or write articles on general topics and get it reviewed from a generalist. 
  5. Learn the grammar rules for the SATs.

SAT Exam Syllabus: Reading Section

As the exam syllabus reads, this section is also focussed on evidence-based writing and reading. In the duration of 65 minutes, the candidate is expected to read 4-5 passages, and along with that, answer 52 questions that follow.

Along with the writing section comes the section on reading, and this section has a point range from 200-800 points. On the whole, there are 10-12 multiple choice questions after each passage, and the questions remain centered around it.


  1. Questions include a function that a phrase serves in each of the essays a phrase serves in the passage.
  2. Questions on the tone, perspective, attitude, and style of the author of the essay.
  3. Questions based on analyzing data on the basis of charts, graphs, diagrams.
  4. The main idea is drawn from the essay.
  5. Questions of arguments that support the author’s stance.

How to prepare

  1. Find what is better in you – Time Management or Passage Strategy.
  2. Learning the method of elimination helps in all the sections.
  3. Experiment with essay reading and comprehension.
  4. Solve Test papers along with reading an English newspaper, most preferably The Hindu for Indian Students.
  5. Be interested in the subject matter of the section.
  6. Practice, Practice and Practice!

SAT Exam Syllabus: Mathematics Section

Mathematics is the most feared section when it comes to the SAT exams. But if you have a fair amount of idea on the mathematical concepts of the SAT, then the preparation and exams, both would go easy and effectively. Mathematics is divided into two parts, of which one is with a calculator, and the other is without using a calculator.

Without a calculator, the section has 20 questions to be answered in 25 minutes, while the section with the permitted calculator has 38 questions to be answered in 55 minutes. The section has a score in the range of 200 to 800 points. 


  1. Algebra – includes percentage, ratio proportion, unit conversion, calculation of mean, median and mode, etc.
  2. Advanced Maths includes Quadratic Equation, Zero, and Factors of Polynomials, function notation, etc.
  3. There are two sections, one with a calculator and one without a calculator.
  4. The section without a calculator has 20 questions to be attempted in 25 minutes.
  5. The section with a calculator has 38 questions to be attempted in 55 minutes.

How to prepare

  1. Practice a lot and analyze mistakes.
  2. Fill the gaps in basic and advanced mathematics by applying the concepts with sample questions.
  3. Master every math skill.
  4. Solve the previous year’s SAT papers.
  5. Solve as many test papers as you can, which may remotely be related to the syllabus of the SAT Mathematics section.

SAT Exam Syllabus: Optional Essay Section

The essay is an optional section of the SAT exam which helps the university in analyzing and judging the capabilities of the candidates’ reading, writing, and analytical skills – all in one go.

The section is made in such a manner that the candidate will be expected to read a passage about 650 to 700 words long, post which the candidate will have to analyze what the author is bidding as his/her argument. The essay then has to be written in a coherent and comprehensive manner within the time duration of 50 minutes. 


  1. The essay as a section may vary from the requirements of the university.
  2. Since the essay is an optional paper, the university requirements should be properly researched before giving the paper.
  3. The essay involves using analytical skills for reading the paragraphs.
  4. Continuous practice is important for this section.
  5. Candidate needs the best comprehension skills and rewriting skills in order to not miss out on any of the arguments produced by the writer.

How to prepare 

  1. Understanding the SAT Essay Scoring System is really important
  2. Try and attempt the Study Sample Passages as well as SAT Essay Prompts.
  3. Try to turn to professional editorial and writing outlets.
  4. Prepare with Practice Essays.
  5. Read your Test Day SAT Essay Passage Thoroughly.

SAT Syllabus India

College Board, the SAT exam-conducting body, has announced the SAT exam dates, along with the registration deadlines. Along with this information comes the SAT Subject test dates, mentioning it the Subject tests would be available on certain dates or not.

In order to decide which test date would be perfect for you, you need to talk to the admission counselor. The test centers are found in the different cities in India for the SAT exam, giving the candidate a rough idea to avoid the last-minute rush. 


How many times can I take the SAT exam?

Ans. A candidate may apply for the exam as many times as he/she desires.

What is the date of the SAT Exam 2020?

Ans. The SAT exam has conducted a total of six times a year between January, May, June, October, November, and December.

How is ACT different from the SAT?

Ans. ACT also includes a section on Science which is not present in the SAT.

How do I apply for SAT 2020?

Ans. Approximately 5 weeks before the test date, do the applicants needs to register. One can do the registration through mail or online, the latter being more convenient.

How do I send my SAT Scores to the college I have applied for?

Ans. Two ways of sending the scores – one while registration of the test, and next after the release of the official scores. The scores can be sent to the colleges up to nine days of taking the test.

What is the SAT point scale?

Ans. The two scoring sections are Evidence-Based Writing and Reading, along with Mathematics. Each has a scale of 200 to 800 points, adding which the total SAT score is received.

What are the eligibility criteria for SAT Exam 2020?

Ans. There is no specific age or educational criteria. For countries like the US and others, the exam can be given by students who wish to enroll in undergraduate programs.

What is the registration fee for SAT 2020?

Ans. The registration fee is $47.52. The registration fee for the SAT with Essay costs $64.52. Students giving exams outside the US have to pay an additional 49 USD for registration. The registration fee for a subjects test is 26 USD.

How do I prepare for the SAT Exam?

Ans. Ideally, you should be solving the previous year’s SAT question bank. Brushing up basics along with a lot of practice for each section is the only way to crack the exam.

How much time does it take to prepare for the SAT exam from scratch?

Ans. It takes roughly 5 to 12 weeks to prepare for the exam. However, the more you practice, the better will be your chances of clearing the exam with flying colors.

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About the Author

Rachit believes in the power of education and has studied from the top institutes of IIIT Allahabad, IIM Calcutta, and Francois Rabelias in France. He has worked as Software Developer with Microsoft and Adobe. Post his MBA, he worked with the world’s # 1 consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group across multiple geographies US, South-East Asia and Europe.

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