Understanding how many questions are on the SAT is essential for students learning how to study for the SAT. The SAT comprises 154 questions across three main sections: Reading, Writing and Language and Math. This article provides a comprehensive breakdown of each section, insights on time allocation, and practical strategies for answering every question type. Whether you're getting ready for the traditional paper-based SAT or the new digital SAT, this article will offer valuable information to help you succeed. If you’re still struggling to figure out whether you should take the SAT or the ACT, this article may help you make this decision. 

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How Many Questions Are on the SAT? How Many SAT Questions Do I Have to Get Right to Get a Good Score? How Long Do I Have to Answer Each Question? Tips For Answering Every SAT Question The Structure and Number of Questions on the Digital SAT Preparing for the SAT FAQs

How Many Questions Are on the SAT?

The Scholastic Aptitude Test, better known as the SAT, is a standardized exam utilized by many colleges and universities in the United States as part of their admissions process. Developed by the College Board, the SAT assesses a student's readiness for college, testing skills and knowledge in critical reading, writing and language, and mathematics.

The SAT examination, spanning three hours, is made up of three separate assessments: (1) SAT Reading, (2) SAT Writing and Language, and (3) SAT Math:

Apart from these, there's also an optional essay section. However, as of recently, the College Board has decided to discontinue the SAT Essay, and this change applies to all SAT takers.

The structure of the test is claimed to be designed to gauge students' aptitude and knowledge in areas that are considered essential for success in college. The questions on the SAT aim to evaluate not just rote memorization but the understanding and application of concepts that are fundamental to both college and career readiness. But this is of course debatable. However, the reality of the situation is that most schools, including the easiest Ivy League schools to get into and UC schools, still accept the submission of your SAT score. While there are colleges that do not require the SAT or the ACT, you may still need to write this test to get a post-secondary education in the US. So, you need to learn everything you can possibly know about this test, including how many questions are on the SAT.

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In the following sections, we will explore each of section of the SAT in detail, providing you with a precise count of how many questions are on the SAT in each section and offering tips on how to tackle them effectively. Armed with this knowledge, you'll be better prepared to take on the SAT and achieve your desired SAT score.

Now let's dig deeper into each SAT section and explore the types and number of questions you can expect.

How Many Questions are on the SAT Reading Section

The Reading section is the first part of the SAT and is designed to test your reading comprehension skills. You will be presented with 52 questions spread across 5 reading passages. These passages will be from previously published works and will cover a range of subjects, including literature, history/social studies, and science.

Each passage is followed by 10-11 multiple-choice questions. These questions test your ability to understand, interpret, and analyze the passages. You'll need to infer the meanings of words or phrases, analyze an author's purpose or perspective, identify claims or evidence in arguments, and more.

The Reading section of the SAT is 65 minutes long, giving you, on average, a little over a minute to answer each question. However, since you'll also need time to read the passages, an effective strategy is to spend around 12-15 minutes reading and understanding each passage and the rest of the time answering the questions.

Questions on the SAT Writing and Language Section

The SAT Writing and Language section assesses your understanding and command of written English. This section contains 44 multiple-choice questions that you must answer within 35 minutes.

The questions are distributed across 4 passages, each accompanied by 11 questions. The passages may cover various topics from careers, social studies, and humanities to science. Unlike the Reading section, the Writing and Language section requires you to improve and revise the passages based on the questions.

The questions in this section focus on improving sentence structure, precision, conciseness, style, and tone of the text, fixing grammatical errors, and improving punctuation. They may also ask you to improve the organization and structure of the passage or to strengthen its argument.

Questions on the SAT Math Sections

The SAT Math test is divided into two sections: the "No Calculator" section and the "Calculator Permitted" section. Together, these two sections have 58 questions you must answer in 80 minutes.

In the "No Calculator" section, you'll be asked to solve 20 questions in 25 minutes. This section includes 15 multiple-choice questions and 5 grid-in questions. The grid-in questions require you to come up with your answer rather than selecting from given options.

As the name suggests, the "Calculator Permitted" section allows you to use a calculator. It comprises 38 questions that you need to answer in 55 minutes. This section consists of 30 multiple-choice questions and 8 grid-in questions.

The Math sections of the SAT will test your understanding of algebra, problem-solving and data analysis, advanced math, and additional topics in math, such as geometry and trigonometry. They will require you to solve problems set in real-world contexts, understand the structure of expressions, and analyze and draw conclusions from data, among other skills.

How Many SAT Questions Do I Have to Get Right to Get a Good Score?

Getting a good score on the SAT is not just about answering as many questions as possible; it's about answering them correctly. The SAT uses "equating" to account for slight differences in difficulty between different test versions. You can miss a few questions and still get a perfect score.

However, it's essential to strive for accuracy and speed when answering SAT questions. A good target is correctly answering at least 75% of the questions in each section. Remember, the SAT does not have a penalty for guessing, so it's better to guess an answer than to leave a question blank.

How Long Do I Have to Answer Each Question?

The time you have for each question depends on the section. On average, you'll have a little more than a minute for each question in the Reading section, less than a minute for each question in the Writing and Language section, about 75 seconds for each question in the Math - No Calculator section, and about 87 seconds for each question in the Math - Calculator Permitted section.

However, remember that these are averages, and your time on each question may vary. Some questions may take longer to answer, while others may be quicker. It's essential to practice time management skills as you go through your SAT study schedule.

Tips For Answering Every SAT Question

Here are some actionable tips to help you answer every question on the SAT:

  • Understand the Format: Before you start preparing for the SAT, understand the test format and how long the SAT is. Familiarize yourself with the number and types of questions in each section, the time allotted, and the scoring system.
  • Practice Regularly: Regular practice is vital to performing well on the SAT. Use official SAT practice tests to simulate the SAT test date experience. This will help you build stamina and learn to manage your time effectively.
  • Review Your Mistakes: When you're practicing, make sure to review your mistakes. Understanding where you went wrong can help you avoid making the same mistakes on the test.
  • Read Actively: When you're tackling the Reading section, make sure to read actively. Try to understand the author's viewpoint and main ideas. This will make it easier to answer the questions.
  • Use Process of Elimination: If you need clarification on an answer, use the process of elimination to narrow down your choices. Remember, there's no penalty for guessing on the SAT.
  • Use Your Calculator Wisely: Although you can use a calculator on some math questions, there are more straightforward ways to get the answer. Use your calculator wisely, and don't rely on it for every question.
  • Relax: Last but not least, remember to relax! It's normal to feel nervous before and during the test but try not to let it affect your performance. Take deep breaths, keep a positive mindset, and do your best

The Structure and Number of Questions on the Digital SAT

The College Board introduced a digital version of the SAT in recent years. The overall content and structure of the test remain the same, whether you take it on paper or digitally. However, the digital SAT has a few differences in terms of navigation and tools.

On the digital SAT, you'll still be answering the same total number of 154 questions as in the paper-based version. The test is still divided into the same four sections: Reading, Writing and Language, Math - No Calculator, and Math - Calculator. The Reading section will have 52 questions, Writing and Language will have 44, Math - No Calculator will have 20, and Math - Calculator will have 38.

One key difference in the digital SAT is the timing and breaks. In the paper-based SAT, you get a 10-minute and a 5-minute break. But in the digital SAT, you get three 5-minute breaks. This new break structure could help you to manage your stamina and concentration better throughout the test.

While the digital SAT still maintains the structure and rigor of the paper-based test, it also introduces some features that could be beneficial to test-takers. For example, you can highlight and underline directly on passages, cross out answer choices, use an on-screen calculator, and even go back to change answers within a section. However, unlike the paper-based test, once the time for a section ends, you cannot return to it later.

Preparing for the SAT

Whether you're taking the SAT on paper or digitally, good preparation is crucial to achieving a high score. Even if you are still wondering whether you should even take the SAT, start bt research how rigorous the prep process is. Here are some additional strategies to help you prepare:

  • Use Official SAT Practice Materials: The College Board offers numerous free resources that you can use to prepare for the SAT. These include full-length practice tests, sample questions, study guides, and online classes.
  • Understand the Test Format: Understanding the test format will help you know what to expect, whether you're taking the SAT on paper or digitally. Familiarize yourself with the order of the sections, the types of questions you'll face, and the strategies that will help you succeed.
  • Take Full-Length Practice Tests: Full-length practice tests are a great way to simulate the test day experience. They can help you build stamina, learn to manage your time effectively and identify areas where you need to improve.
  • Review Your Mistakes: Don't just check your answers; take the time to understand your mistakes. Review the questions you got wrong, and try to understand why you missed them. This will help you avoid making the same mistakes on the actual test.
  • Build Your Reading and Vocabulary Skills: The Reading section of the SAT tests your comprehension skills, so reading widely and regularly is essential. Additionally, building your vocabulary can help you understand the passages and answer questions more effectively.
  • Master Basic Math Skills: The Math section of the SAT covers a range of topics, from basic arithmetic to algebra and geometry. Ensure you're comfortable with these topics and practice solving different math problems.
  • Get Familiar with the Digital Tools: If you're taking the digital SAT, get familiar with digital tools and navigation. Practice highlighting and underlining on the screen, using the on-screen calculator, and crossing out answer choices.

Preparing for the SAT can be a challenging task, but with the right approach and plenty of practice, you can achieve a high score. Remember, it's not just about how many questions are on the SAT—it's also about understanding the test format, knowing how to approach each question, and managing your time effectively. Good luck with your preparation!


1. How many questions are on the SAT?

There are 154 questions on the SAT, divided into four sections: Reading, Writing and Language, and two Math sections (one with a calculator and one without).

2. How many questions are on the SAT Reading section?

The SAT Reading section consists of 52 questions, which are all multiple-choice based on passages or pairs of passages.

3. How many questions are on the SAT Writing and Language section?

The SAT Writing and Language section includes 44 multiple-choice questions based on passages.

4. How many questions are on the SAT Math section?

The SAT Math section has 58 questions, divided into two subsections: one that allows calculator use (38 questions) and one that does not (20 questions).

5. What is the Digital SAT, and how many questions does it have?

The Digital SAT is the computer-based version of the SAT, offering the same content, format, and number of questions as the traditional paper-based SAT, which is 154.

6. How much time will I have to answer each SAT question?

The time per question varies by section. On average, you will have approximately 1 minute 15 seconds per question in the Reading section, less than 1 minute per question in the Writing and Language section, and about 1 minute 15 seconds per question in the Math section.

7. Do I have to answer all questions on the SAT?

It's highly recommended to answer all questions since there's no penalty for incorrect answers on the SAT. Guessing when unsure of an answer could lead to extra points.

8. What are some effective strategies for answering SAT questions?

Strategies include understanding the test format, taking full-length practice tests, thoroughly reviewing mistakes, using the process of elimination in multiple-choice questions, and preparing well ahead of the test date. For the digital SAT, familiarize yourself with the digital tools and navigation features.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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