The SAT lasts four hours and five minutes, including the optional essay (50 minutes). There are four sections and the optional essay:
The reading section consists of passages that test critical reading skills.
- All Reading Test questions are multiple choice and based on passages.
- Some passages are paired with other passages.
- Informational graphics, such as tables, graphs, and charts, accompany some passages—but no math is required.
- Prior topic-specific knowledge is never tested.
- The Reading Test is part of the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section.
Writing and Language Section
The writing and language section includes multiple-choice questions that test English grammar and usage.
- All questions are multiple choice and based on passages.
- Some passages are accompanied by informational graphics, such as tables, graphs, and charts—but no math is required.
- Prior topic knowledge is never tested.
- The Writing and Language Test is part of the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section.
The College Board sorts the math question types into three main categories: Heart of Algebra, Passport to Advanced Math, and Problem Solving and Data Analysis.
- Most math questions will be multiple choice, but some—called grid-ins—ask you to come up with the answer rather than select the answer.
- The Math Test is divided into two portions: Math Test–Calculator and Math Test–No Calculator.
- Some parts of the test include several questions about a single scenario.
The ACT last three hours and fifty-five minutes, including the optional essay (40 minutes). There are four sections and the optional essay:
The English section tests English grammar and usage.
The math section covers pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry, and trigonometry.
The reading section consists of four passages that test critical reading skills. Some passages are paired with other passages.
The science section focuses primarily on graph and chart analysis, with very few questions that test scientific knowledge.
The PSAT (Preliminary SAT) is taken by high school sophomores and juniors in the month of October. The PSAT provides valuable practice for the SAT, since the same academic concepts are tested. The PSAT lasts two hours and forty-five minutes.
The PSAT selection index score determines who will qualify for a National Merit Scholarship. For more information, go to www.nationalmerit.org.
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