SAT Reasoning Test™

The SAT Reasoning Test (formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test) is an exam created by the College Board® to measure a student's readiness for university-level academic work. It is used by college and university admissions departments to compare students across schools and regions by using a single, standardized test. The SAT Reasoning Test focuses on the application of academic skills rather than a display of learned facts and knowledge.

SAT Reasoning Test Basics

The SAT Reasoning Test is offered seven times per academic year. Currently the test is offered in October, November, December, January, March, May and June; however, starting in the 2017-2018 school year the January date is scheduled to be eliminated in favor of an early offering in August.

Starting in March 2016, the mandatory portion of the SAT Reasoning Test is three hours long. The essay is now optional; it will add an extra 50 minutes to the total testing time.

The standard SAT Reasoning Test (without essay) costs $45; the SAT Reasoning Test with optional essay costs $57. Low-income students can apply for a waiver to take the test for free.

The SAT Reasoning Test is offered in many locations across the country and around the world. Testing centers are typically located in high schools, though not every center offers the SAT Reasoning Test on all possible test dates. To find a convenient testing center, search online by zip code and test date.

A free College Board account is required to register for the SAT Reasoning Test online. Online registration requires the ability to upload a photo that meets strict standards - a passport-type photo will work well. It's also possible (and in some cases required) to register for the SAT Reasoning Test by mail.

What Is On the SAT Reasoning Test

The standard SAT Reasoning Test consists of three sections:

  • The Reading Test
  • The Writing and Language Test
  • The Math Test

There's also an optional essay. Some colleges require or encourage the essay, and students must register for it in advance.

How the SAT Reasoning Test Is Scored

The latest version of the SAT Reasoning Test has reverted to the familiar 200-800 point scoring system. Each of the two section scores (one for Math, the other for Reading, Writing and Language) ranges from 200-800; when added together, total test scores range from 400-1600. The optional essay score ranges from 2-8 points. The new SAT Reasoning Test score report also includes cross-test scores that show achievement in science and social studies as well as sub-scores that break down achievement in specific math and language arts skills.

There are no penalties for leaving a question blank, and the new SAT Reasoning Test has done away with past penalties for incorrect answers. This means that students are now encouraged to guess rather than leaving any answers blank.

Retaking the SAT Reasoning Test

The College Board now offers Score Choice, which allows students to choose their best overall score by test date to send to colleges. SAT Reasoning Test retakes are not averaged together; however, students can choose to send all of their scores to colleges to show improvement over time.


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