Now let’s check brief summaries of each of the SAT’s four components: Reading, Writing and Language, Math and Essay.

The old SAT’s Critical Reading and Writing sections have been combined into an Evidence-Based Reading and Writing test on the 2016 SAT. Rather than Sentence Completions that test obscure vocabulary, the new SAT will test “real world” vocabulary-in-context and your ability to revise and edit passages, which will span Literature, Social Studies, and Science. One passage on every exam will be an excerpt from a primary source from United States and/or World History. The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section will be scored on a scale of 200 to 800.

  1. Reading Section / Reading Test

The Reading Section has question based upon something flaunted by the fancy name of Evidence-based Reading Comprehension, to distinguish it from the English language sense based Reading Comprehension that you practiced a lot back in school.

When you take the Reading Test, you’ll read reading comprehension passages and interpret informational graphics. Then you’ll use what you’ve read to answer questions.

Though most questions ask you to locate a piece of information or an idea stated directly ( or written bluntly clear ). But some questions may also need to understand what the author’s words imply. In other words, you have to read between the lines.

The Reading Test focuses on the skills and knowledge at the heart of education: the stuff you’ve been learning in high school, the stuff you’ll need to succeed in college. It’s about how you take in, think about, and use information. And guess what? You’ve been doing that for years.

The Reading section gives you 65 minutes to crack 52 Multiple-choice questions, each with four options from 2 normal passages, 2 passages (with supplementary material also) and a Dual Passage.

Two of the passages on the 2016 SAT Reading Test will include 1 -2 informational graphics that portray information related to the content of the passage. You will be asked to interpret this data and combine it with the information presented in the text. Passages will also range in text complexity, meaning that the reading material on the SAT ranges in difficulty level from high school to college-level texts.

Overview of SAT Reading Test


65 minutes


52 passage-based multiple-choice questions


4 single passages; 1 set of paired passages

Passage Length

500-750 words each

Passages will be chosen from U.S. and world literature, history/social studies, and science. One set of history/social studies or science passages will be a pair of shorter passages instead of one longer passage. History/social studies and science passages can also be accompanied by graphical representations of data such as charts, graphs, tables, etc. All passages will be taken from previously-published sources. Graphics accompanying passages can be taken from published sources as well but may also be created for the exam.

The multiple-choice questions for each passage will be arranged in order from the more general to the more specific so you can actively engage with the entire passage before answering questions about details.

Reading Comprehension Passages on SAT Reading Section

History/Social Studies

2 passages or 1 passage and 1 paired passage set;

10-11 questions each


2 passages or 1 passage and 1 paired passage set;

10-11 questions each

U.S. and World Literature

1 passage; 10-11 questions

The questions on the Reading section are technically of three types :

  1. Analysis Based Questions
  2. Command of Evidence Questions
  3. Vocabulary in Context Questions

1. Analysis Based Questions

Most of the questions will be based on a strict analysis of U.S. and World Literature, History/Social Studies and Science passages. Though any prior topic specific knowledge is never tested. These questions test four broad skills, as given in the table below :

Analysis Based Questions


Understanding relationships; interpreting words and phrases in context

Information and Ideas

Close reading (determining explicit/implicit meanings and using analogical reasoning); citing textual evidence; determining main

ideas and themes


Analyzing word choice; assessing overall text structure; assessing part-whole relationships; analyzing point of view; determining

purpose; analyzing arguments (claims and counterclaims, reasoning, evidence)


Analyzing multiple texts (i.e., paired passages); analyzing quantitative information


2. Command of Evidence Questions

Other multiple-choice questions will test your command of evidence. Such a question will be secondary to conclusions you reached in a preceding question; it will ask you to find the best support for your interpretation of the passage by citing the most relevant textual evidence listed in the answer choices. Questions that measure your command of evidence will be phrased along the lines of – Which choice best supports the answer chosen for the previous question you have already answered ?

3. Vocabulary in Context Questions

Some multiple-choice questions will ask about relevant words in context. These questions will test your comprehension of how a word or phrase is used in the context of a 500-750 word prose passage in any of the aforementioned subjects. These words will be neither particularly obscure nor specific to a certain field of study. Rather, you will be asked to figure out the meaning of the word or phrase based on the context in which it is used.

  1. The Writing and Language Section / Test

The SAT Writing and Language section is a basically a Paragraph Improvement Section. The passages provided are not perfect but are basically a first draft prepared by some author and may require some revisions and improvement for better expression of ideas or to remove errors in sentence structure, usage, or punctuation. These passages or individual questions improvements may be accompanied by supplementary information, in the form of tables or graphs that need to be considered as you make revising and editing decisions well.

During the Writing and Language Section, you will go through 1,700 words total from 4 passages of 400-450 words each, drawing from Careers, History/Social Studies, Humanities, or Science. 1-2 passages will be Argumentative, 1-2 passages will be Informative/ Explanatory, and 1 passage will be a nonfiction narrative.

Overview of SAT Writing and Language Test

Timing 35 minutes
Questions 44 passage-based multiple-choice questions
Passages 4 single passages with 11 questions each
Passage Length 400-450 words each

Type of passages on SAT Writing and Language Section

Nonfiction Narrative 1 passage
Informative/Explanatory Text 1-2 passages
Argument 1 1-2 passages

The SAT Writing and Language Test has four passages that are written specifically for the test. Each of these passages is 400-450 words long and is followed by 11 questions. Some passages and/or individual questions will refer to one or more informational graphics such as tables, charts, graphs, etc. Questions associated with these graphical representations will ask you to revise and edit the passage based on the data presented in the graphic. Such questions will only require analysis of existing data but will not computation in any manner. There will be one passage from each of the following subject areas: History/Social Studies, Careers, Science, and Humanities.

Subject-wise SAT Writing and Language Passages

History/Social Studies

Discussion of historical or social sciences topics such as human geography, anthropology, communication studies, economics, education, law, linguistics, political science, psychology, and sociology


Hot topics in “major fields of work” such as information technology and health care


Exploration of concepts, findings, and discoveries in the natural sciences, including Earth science, biology, chemistry, and physics


The arts and letters

Question Types on Writing and Language Section

Most of the questions on the SAT Writing and Language Test will be formatted to ask you to choose whether an underlined portion of the passage is the best option or would any of the three other alternatives given to the current version be the best option. Questions will ask you to improve the development, organization, and diction in the passages in order to ensure they conform to conventional standards of English grammar, usage, and style. While you will be able to answer some of these multiple-choice questions by looking only at a specific phrase, clause, or sentence, still some of the questions can only be answered by considering the passage as a whole and may require you to refer to the graphic supplementary material provided in the form of graphs, tables or charts.

All questions on the SAT Writing and Language Section will broadly fall into two categories :

  1. 24 Expression of Ideas Questions
  2. 20 Standard English Language Conventions Questions

Expression of Ideas QuestionsThe 24 Expression of Ideas questions on the Writing and Language Test will be based on development, organization, and effective language use. These questions can include sub-question types such as words in context, command of evidence, and analysis of history/social studies or science.

Types of Expression of Ideas Questions

Development of Passage -

Require you to Edit the text in terms of rhetorical purpose by assessing 4 things :

Support: Do the information and ideas like details, facts, and statistics accurately support claims or ideas in the text?

Proposition: Do the main ideas, central claims, counterclaims, and topic sentences appropriately structure the text? Do they clearly and effectively convey arguments, information, and ideas?

Focus: Are certain information and ideas relevant to the topic and purpose of the overarching text?

Quantitative Information: How do graphs, charts, and tables representing quantitative information relate to the text?

Organization of Passage -

Require you to Improve the logic and coherence of text at the level of sentence, paragraph, or entire passage by assessing 2 things :

Logical Sequence: Are the information and ideas presented in the most logical order?

Introductions, Conclusions, and Transitions: Are transition words, phrases, and sentences used effectively to connect the information and ideas of the text?

Effective Language Use in Passage – Require you to Improve language use to make sure it reinforces rhetorical purposes by assessing: 4 things :

Precision: Are the words chosen (diction) exact and appropriate for the text?

Style and Tone: Are tone and style consistent throughout the text? Does the text’s style and tone match its purpose?

Concision: Is the text wordy or redundant?

Syntax: Does the text’s sentence structure accurately reflect its rhetorical purposes?

Standard English Language Conventions Questions – The 20 questions on the Writing and Language Test will be Standard English Conventions questions. These questions focus on editing the passage’s text to conform to standard written English conventions of sentence structure, English language usage, and punctuation.

Types of Questions on Standard English Conventions

Sentence Structure

run-ons and fragments, coordination and subordination, parallelism, modifiers, verb tenses, mood, voice, pronouns

Conventions of English Language Usage

pronouns, possessives vs. contractions, pronoun- antecedent agreement, subject-verb agreement, noun agreement, frequently used confusing words, comparisons, idioms

Conventions of Punctuation

colons, semicolons, dashes, possessive nouns and pronouns, series, parenthetical elements, unnecessary punctuation

3. Math Test / Sections – The Math Test has two section interrupted by a short break of 5 minutes. Questions are drawn from the Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Passport to Advanced Math, and Additional Topics in Math content areas. The difference between the two Math sections is in terms of whether you have the permission to use the calculator or not. Moreover the No-Calculator section has No Problem Solving or Data Analysis questions as well

Overview of Math Sections

Sections Tested Content Question Types
Calculator Section

(55 minutes)

Core Algebra, Problem- Solving and Data Analysis, Advanced Math, and Miscellaneous Math Topics 30 multiple-choice + 6 student-produced response (grid-in) + 1 extended-thinking question set (grid-in) = 38 questions
No-Calculator Section

(25 minutes)

Core Algebra, Advanced Math, Miscellaneous Math Topics 15 multiple-choice + 5 student-produced response (grid-in) = 20 questions


Type of Math Questions Subject wise -

1. Core Algebra (called Heart of Algebra by SAT)

Core Algebra encompasses Linear Equations and Functions, skills you will need in a variety of college classes—even those that fall outside the realms of math and science. There will be a total of 21 Core Algebra questions (13 on the Calculator section and 8 on the No-Calculator section) on the Math Test. Core Algebra content category will assess your ability to fluently apply and conceptually understand the following 10 topics:

1. Linear equations and expressions with one variable

2. Linear inequalities with one variable

3. Linear equations with two variables

4. Functions and function notation

5. Systems of inequalities with two variables

6. Systems of linear equations with two variables

7. Solving systems of equations or inequalities with one variable

8. Solving systems of two linear equations with two variables

9. Interpreting variables and constants in linear function expressions within a real-world context

10. Making connections between algebraic and graphical representations

2. Problem Solving and Data Analysis

Problem Solving and Data Analysis questions will ask you to solve single and multistep problems involving percents, ratios, and unit conversions, as well as interpret information presented in graphs and charts. There will be 15 Problem Solving and Data Analysis questions on the Math Test, all of which will appear in the Calculator section. In addition, the Extended-Thinking Grid -In question set (worth 4 raw-score points) will be a Problem Solving and Data Analysis question. The Problem Solving and Data Analysis content category will assess your ability to fluently apply and conceptually understand the following 14 topics:

1. Ratios, rates, and proportions

2. Scale drawings

3. Percentages

4. Unit conversion and calculating density

5. Using scatterplots and linear, quadratic, or exponential models to describe how variables are related

6. Using graphs to identify a value or set of values

7. Interpreting graphs based on the relationship between variables

8. Analyzing linear vs. exponential growth

9. Probability

10. Summarizing categorical data

11. Estimating population parameters

12. Averages

13. Standard Deviation

14. Evaluating reports in order to infer, justify conclusions, and determine appropriateness of data collection methods

3. Advanced Math(called Passport to Advanced Math by SAT)

Advanced Math includes a variety of topics that cover content found in courses beyond introductory algebra. Most involve working with functions and parts of functions algebraically and graphically. There will be 16 Advanced Math questions on the redesigned SAT Math Test (7 on the Calculator section and 9 on the No-Calculator section). The Advanced Math content category will assess your ability to fluently apply and conceptually understand the following 15 topics:

1. Quadratic and exponential functions

2. Determining the most suitable form of an expression or equation based on context

3. Radicals and rational exponents

4. Algebraic expressions and operations

5. Quadratic. equations

6. Polynomials

7. Radical and rational equations (sometimes with extraneous solutions)

8. Systems of linear and quadratic equations

9. Rewriting rational expressions

10. Interpreting parts of nonlinear expressions in context

11. Zeros and factors of polynomials

12. Sketching graphs

13. Understanding nonlinear relationships between two variables by making connections between algebraic and graphical representations

14. Function notation

15. Rearranging equations or formulas to isolate a single variable

4. Miscellaneous Math Topics

Some questions on the redesigned SAT Math Test do not fall into the aforementioned categories. Most of the Additional Topics will come from Geometry and Trigonometry topics. There will be 6 Additional Topics in Math questions on the new SAT Math Test (3 in the Calculator section and 3 in the No-Calculator section). The Additional Topics in Math content category will assess your ability to fluently apply and conceptually understand the following 11 topics:

1. Application of volume formulas

2. Trigonometric ratios

3. The Pythagorean Theorem

4. Right triangles

5. Arithmetic operations on complex numbers

6. Conversion between degrees and radians

7. Circles (including arc length, angle measures, chord lengths, and sector areas)

8. Plane geometry (lines, angles, triangles)

9. Similar triangles

10. Sine and cosine

11. The coordinate plane

All math questions will be worth one point except for the Extended -Thinking question set in the Calculator section, which will be worth four raw-score points.

5. Essay Section

The Essay is optional and is always at the end of the exam, as its own test. The length of time allotted for essay writing is 50 minutes. The redesigned SAT Essay Test will assess your college and career readiness by testing your abilities to read, write, and analyze a high-quality source document and write a coherent analysis of the source supported with critical reasoning and evidence from the given text in the form of a passage of 650 to 750 words.

The Given Passage – The single passage featured on the SAT Essay Test, a source text of 650-750 words, will be argumentative and aimed toward a large audience. Passages will examine ideas, debates, and shifts in the arts and sciences as well as civic, cultural, and political life. Rather than having a simple for/against structure, these passages will be nuanced and will relate views on complex subjects. These passages will also be logical in their structure and reasoning. It is important to note that prior knowledge is not required.

The Prompt for the Essay - The redesigned SAT Essay prompt will ask you to explain how the author of the presented passage builds an argument to convince an audience. In writing your essay, you may analyze elements such as the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, style, and persuasion; you will not be limited to those elements listed, however. Rather than writing about whether you agree or disagree with the presented argument, you will write an essay in which you analyze how the author makes an argument. Two blank pages with lines are provided to write your essay in.

The redesigned SAT Essay Test expects you to demonstrate:

  1. Careful analysis/comprehension of the passage
  2. Discerning use of textual evidence to develop and support your own points
  3. Clear organization and expression of ideas

Scoring of the Essay – The SAT Essay Test will be broken down into three categories for scoring: Reading, Analysis, and Writing. Each of these elements will be scored on a scale of 1 to 4 by two graders, for a total score of 2 to 8 for each category.

i. The Reading subscore ranges between 2 and 8 and measures your abilities to:

• Understand the source text

• Comprehend main ideas, important details, and how they function together

• Correctly interpret the text

• Use textual evidence like quotations and paraphrases to demonstrate your understanding

ii. The Analysis subscore ranges between 2 and 8 and measures your abilities to:

• Analyze the given passage and understand the prompt

• Evaluate the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and stylistic/persuasive elements or other elements of your choosing

• Support your own claims or points

• Highlight the aspects of the text most relevant to the prompt

iii. The Writing subscore ranges between 2 and 8 and measures your abilities to:

• Construct a thesis

• Effectively organize and transition between ideas

• Use varied sentence structure

• Use appropriate diction (word choice)

• Maintain a consistent (and appropriate) style and tone

• Utilize the conventions of standard written English


We know what kind of essay the SAT graders are looking for, and we’ll tell you exactly how to write one in.


Score Type

Score Range


Composite Score

400 to 1600


Area Score Math

200 to 800


Area Score – Evidence based Reading and Writing

200 to 800


Essay – Reading

1 to 8


Essay – Analysis

1 to 8


Essay – Writing

1 to 8


Test Score – Reading Test

10 to 40


Test Score – Writing and Language Test

10 to 40


Test Score – Math Test

10 to 40


Cross Test Score – History and Social Science


Cross Test Score – Science


Subscore -Reading – Command of Evidence

1 to 15


Subscore – Reading – Words in Context

1 to 15


Subscore -Writing – Command of Evidence

1 to 15


Subscore – Writing – Words in Context

1 to 15


Subscore – Writing – Expression of Ideas

1 to 15


Subscore – Writing – Standard English Conventions

1 to 15


Combined Subscore – Reading and Writing – Command of Evidence

1 to 15


Combined Subscore – Reading and Writing Combined – Words in Context

1 to 15


Subscore – Math – Heart of Algebra

1 to 15


Subscore – Math – Passport to Advanced Math

1 to 15


Subscore – Math – Problem Solving and Data Analysis

1 to 15


The SAT is different from the tests you’re used to taking in school. The good news is you can use
the SAT’s particular structure to your scoring advantage.

Here’s an example. On a school test, you probably browse through the whole paper, and decide what has to be the sequence you will follow. You spend more time on the hard questions than on easy ones because harder questions are usually worth more points. You probably even show your calculations because the teacher tells you that how you approach a problem is as important as getting the answer right.

None of this works on the SAT. If you use the same approach on the SAT, your score will suffer. On the SAT, you benefit from moving around within a section if you come across hard questions because the hard questions are worth the same as the easy ones. It doesn’t matter how you determine the answers-only that you get them right.

When you take the SAT, you should have one clear objective in mind: to score – Score as many points as you can. It’s that simple. We will help you achieve that goal.

The Directions Never Change

One of the easiest things you can do to help your performance on the SAT is to understand the
directions before taking the test. Because the directions are always exactly the same, knowing
them in advance will help keep your testing experience positive and efficient.

Learn all the SAT directions now, so you can just skim them during the test. This will save time and effort.

You Don’t Have to Answer the Questions in Order

You are allowed to skip around within each section of the SAT. High scorers know this.
They move through the test efficiently. They don’t dwell on any one question, even a
hard one, until they’ve tried every question at least once.

When you run into questions that look tough, circle them in your test booklet and skip
them. Go back and try them again after you have answered the easier ones. Remember, you
don’t get more points for answering hard questions. If you get two easy ones right in the
time it would have taken you to get one hard one right, you just improved your score.

There’s another benefit for coming back to hard ones later. On a second look, troublesome
questions can turn out to be simple. By answering some easier questions first, you can come
back to a harder question with fresh eyes, a fresh perspective, and more confidence.


Well, the SAT has no negative marking. This means that you should be attempting all questions. This also means that If you have come back to a tough question and still can’t find the correct answer the second time around, consider a different approach. Begin eliminating choices that are absolutely wrong. If you can whittle the choices down to two, your chances of guessing the correct answer just increased from 25% to 50%.

Answer All Grid-ins

If you get an answer wrong on a Grid-in math question, you lose nothing. So you should write in an answer for every Grid-in. The worst that can happen is that you get zero points for the questions you guessed on. If you get just one right, that’s an extra 10 points.

Answer Sheet Strategies

It sounds simple, but it’s extremely important: Don’t make mistakes filling out your answer grid. When time is short, it’s easy to get confused going back and forth between your test book and your grid. If you know the answer, but misgrid them, you won’t get the points. To avoid mistakes on the answer grid, try some of these methods:

Circle the Questions You Skip

Perhaps the most common SAT disaster is filling in all of the right answers – in the wrong spots. Put a big circle in your test book around any question numbers you skip to help you locate these questions when you are ready to go back to them. Also, if you accidentally skip a box on the grid, you can always check your grid against your book to see where you went wrong.

Circle Your Answers in Your Test Book

Circling your answers in the test book makes it easier to check your grid against your book. It also makes the next grid strategy possible.

Grid Five or More Answers at Once

Time is of the essence on this exam. To save time and make sure you are marking your answers in the correct bubbles, transfer your answers after every five questions, or at the end of each reading passage, rather than after every question. That way, you won’t keep breaking your concentration to mark the grid. You’ll end up with more time and less chance to make a mistake on your answer sheet.

Keep Track of Time

You need to be careful at the end of a section when time may be running out. You don’t want to have your answers in the test booklet and not be able to transfer them to your answer grid because you have run out of time. If there are just two minutes left, and you still have a few questions to answer, you should start transferring your answers one by one to ensure that every question you answered earns credit.

Read the Question Carefully Before You Look at the Answers

On the SAT, there will always be distracters among the answer choices. Distracters are answer choices that look right but aren’t, and they are easy to choose if you haven’t read the question carefully. If you jump right into the answer choices without thinking first about exactly what you’re looking for, you’re much more likely to fall into one of these traps.

Locate Quick Points – If You’re Running Out of Time

Some questions can be done quickly. For instance, some reading questions will ask you to identify the meaning of a particular word in the passage. These can often be done at the last minute, even if you haven’t read the passage. When you start to run out of time, try to locate and answer the questions that can earn you quick points. When you take the SAT, you should have one clear objective in mind-to score as many points as you can. It’s that simple. The rest of this book will help you do that.

Use Backdoor Strategies

There are usually a number of ways to get to the right answer on an SAT question. Most of the questions on the SAT are multiple choice type. That means the answer is right in front of you and you just have to find it and tick it. This makes SAT questions open to several different’ ways of finding the answer.

If you can’t figure out the answer in a straightforward way, try other techniques. We’ll talk about specific strategies such as Back calculations, Substitutions, etc in Math classes and VCM and Error Grading in Writing classes , and Key-Word approach in Reading classes.

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