SAT (scholastic aptitude test or scholastic assessment test) is an internationally standardized test that evaluates a person’s skills in reading and writing, quantitative aptitude and other subjects. SAT measures the candidate's skills to analyze and solve problems. It is a basic requirement for admissions in undergraduate programs in universities in US and now in some institutions in Canada. It is one of the factors in admission process with GPA, academic transcripts, letter of recommendations, interviews and personal essays. SAT score combined with good GPA and letter of recommendation can help secure admissions and scholarships. It is paper based test and is taken 6 times in a year.

SAT is of two types: SAT Reasoning test and SAT Subject test.

SAT Reasoning Test (SAT I)

It is a 3 hour 45 minute test and has three sections. Each section is of 800 marks making the total of 2400 for the test.  

  • Math: The skills required for this test are of basic math learned till class tenth. The candidate doesn’t need to learn up new formulae but they need to increase their speed and thinking process to score good in this section.
  • Reading: This section intends to measure the ability of the candidate to read and understand written english. The type of questions includes reading comprehension and answering questions based on that. A basic vocabulary is required for this test.
  • Writing: This section aims to assess the grammar skills of the candidate. The candidate will be asked to edit a passage in one part and basic grammar questions in the other part.

SAT Subject Test (SAT II)

It is a one hour test with a series of multiple choice questions about the subjects chosen. Not everyone is required to give SAT subject test. Some university courses require subject test. The questions are of high school level and straight forward. The subjects include:

  • Literature
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Various Languages


The SAT test pattern has three sections and one optional essay section. The total duration of the test is 3 hours and 45 minutes are given for the essay. A total of 154 questions are asked and one essay question.

The three sections include:

  • Evidence based reading
  • Writing and language
  • Math (no calculator and with calculator)


This section comprises of 52 questions. There are five passages with 10-11 questions per passage which are needed to be completed in 65 minutes. The passage is taken from U.S. and world history, Social studies and science. All the answers are based on the content given in the passage.


The candidate gets 35 minutes to read 4 passages and answer 44 multiple choice questions. A passage will be given and the candidate will be asked to revise and edit the text by improving the choice of words, use of punctuations or sentence order. This test aims to measure the knowledge of grammar rules and effective writing.


This section is divided into two parts: Math test with calculator and Math test without calculator. It has 58 questions comprising of 45 multiple choice questions and 13 grid-in (free response) questions. The total duration of this test is 80 minutes.

  • The math test- no calculator part has 20 questions with 15 being multiple choice questions and 5 being grid in questions.
  • The math test- calculator past has 38 questions with 30 multiple choice and 8 grid in questions. All scientific and graphing calculators are allowed but mobile phones, smart phones and other gadgets are not permitted.

Difference between SAT and ACT

The main difference between ACT and SAT is that ACT includes a section of science in it with writing, reading and math being same as SAT.

The scoring In SAT is done out of 2400 where as in ACT the scoring is done on the scale from 1 to 36.

There is also difference in the content, number of questions and time duration of different sections.