Timing is one of the toughest things about the SAT. Students must work quickly to answer as many questions correctly as possible, all while tangling with 10 test sections spanning 3 hours and 45 minutes early on a Saturday morning, when they’d rather be sleeping in. Students who are familiar with the SAT’s section and overall timing can put themselves in good positions to achieve strong scores, so we wanted to share some information about what they should expect during the test.
1. SAT Section-by-Section Timing
2. Sample SAT Structure
3. GLC’s Approach to SAT Timing
The SAT includes 10 sections of content spanning three different subjects: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. These sections generally alternate, and do not necessarily appear in the same order from test to test, making it difficult to anticipate exactly what a given test might look like. That said, there are a few things that all tests will have in common:
While every SAT is different, the table below shows one possible structure for the test, including a section-by-section breakdown of content, question type(s), and length.
|Section||Type of Section||Length|
|Section 3||Critical Reading|
Multiple Choice Questions
Free Response Questions
|Section 6||Critical Reading|
|EXPERIMENTAL||Critical Reading or Math Questions||25 Minutes|
Unknown Number of Questions
Multiple Choice Questions
|Section 9||Critical Reading|
Whether a student gets straight A’s in high school or struggles in class, SAT timing is an almost universal concern because the of the test’s fast pace and imposing length. This is why GLC’s SAT program emphasizes three of the most effective ways for students to make the most of their time on the SAT and answer as many questions correctly as possible.
The SAT has long had a reputation for being tailored to “good test takers”. While that sentiment simplifies the test quite a bit, there is a degree of truth because students who know how to recognize and take advantage of shortcuts can save time and answer more questions correctly on the SAT. That’s why our SAT classes emphasize time-saving strategies like that allow students to “backsolve” tough math problems and use “active skimming” techniques to digest reading passages. We equip our students with the strategic know-how that helps save time and energy on this marathon of a test.
Many students—even those who have prepared for the test—struggle with timing for a simple reason: they are shaky on the fundamental concepts tested on the SAT. While it’s true that there are dozens of different topics included on the SAT, most questions focus on a relatively small number of essential concepts. The Writing test, for example, tests about 12 different grammatical topics, but the vast majority of the questions only focus on three concepts: subject-verb agreement, pronoun usage, and parallelism. Our curriculum covers all the material tested on the SAT, but it doesn’t spend unnecessary time focusing on obscure rules that might only be tested once—or not at all. Instead, we make sure our students feel confident with the fundamental reading, math, and grammar skills that apply to the vast majority of the SAT’s content.
Strategy and subject matter are important for proper SAT timing, but they don’t get the job done by themselves. Hardly any students are used to testing for four hours at a time, let alone first thing on a Saturday morning. They need practice opportunities that mimic the unique and challenging test environment to get fully comfortable with the SAT. Our SAT program includes three proctored, full-length practice tests held on Saturday mornings and designed to give students an authentic opportunity to build testing stamina and gain confidence in their abilities.
GLC’s SAT Success Courses get results; our students improve their scores by an average of 260 points! Click the button below to learn more about our program, view class schedules, or register for SAT Classes.