SAT Exam Syllabus (2020)

SAT Exam Syllabus

Many students wish to pursue their education after 12th grade from a university abroad. The decision is mainly motivated by the availability of better courses abroad and better opportunities after the completion of the course. If you are someone who is looking at undergraduate courses and colleges, most universities will expect you to have a good SAT score. Before preparing for any examination, it is important that you are well versed with the syllabus, the same holds true for SAT exam syllabus. Once you know the SAT exam syllabus you will be able to prepare better and ace the test. Here is all the information you will need about the SAT exam syllabus.

Overview of SAT Exam Syllabus

The SAT exam is a standardized test that helps the university examine where you stand in a more objective manner. The test is a good criterion for universities and examiners to figure out how well prepared you are for college as well as get a better idea about the skills you’ve developed in school.

While analyzing the SAT exam syllabus it is also important that you have a fair idea about the exam pattern and time structure so that you can come up with a strategy to tackle the examination.

The total duration of the examination is 3 hours and an additional 50 minutes if you opt for the essay. The test scores range between 400 and 1600 points. The exam is broken down into 4 sections, these include- reading, writing and language, mathematics and an optional essay. 

  • The reading section consists of 52 questions over a course of 65 minutes. 
  • The writing and language section constitutes of 44 questions over a duration of 35 minutes.
  • The mathematics section lasts a total of 80 minutes and consists of 58 questions.
  • If you plan on going ahead with the optional essay it will last for a total of 50 minutes and only has 1 task. 


This section of the SAT exam syllabus will test your evidence-based reading and writing skills, it consists mainly of 4 passages that are followed by 44 MCQ’s. In a 35-minute duration, you will be expected to comprehend the passages and answer accordingly.

The topics for the articles or write-ups are mainly centered on generic topics that do not necessitate your prior knowledge of the subject. In fact, certain passages have supplementary graphs and charts to assess your imperative skills.

The passages revolve around topics like humanities, science, careers, and history or social sciences.

You will be expected to answer certain questions pertaining to the passages, some examples of the questions asked are:

  • Sentence structure, verb tense, punctuation, parallel construction, grammar usage, subject-verb agreement, etc.
  • Strengthen/weaken the argument
  • Word choice for style, text or tone
  • Structural changes to improve readability


Like the reading section of the SAT exam syllabus, this part of the test also focuses on evidence-based reading and writing. 

Over a 65-minute duration, you will be expected to read 4-5 passages and answer 52 questions that follow it.

Along with the writing section, the SAT scores for these section range from 200-800 points. There are approximately 10-12 MCQ questions after every passage in this section and the questions are mainly centered around the following:

  • The function a phrase serves in the passage
  • The tone, style, perspective, and attitude of the author 
  • Analyzing data on the basis of diagrams, charts, and graphs  
  • The central theme or main idea of the passage
  • Inference of a phrase in a paragraph 
  • Arguments or evidence that supports the author’s stance

Tip to ace the Reading and Writing Sections of SAT exam syllabus

The format of the examination does not expect prior knowledge of the passage topics from you but with constant practice, you can develop a familiarity which will help you in answering the reading and writing sections of the SAT exam syllabus more effectively.


Most students fear the mathematics section of an examination, but if you have a fair idea of the mathematics component of the SAT exam syllabus you will be able to prepare more effectively.

The mathematics section is divided into two parts – one with a calculator and one section without using a calculator.

The mathematics section without permitted calculator use consists of 20 questions that need to be answered in a duration of 25 minutes whereas the section with permitted calculator use consists of 38 questions over a 55-minute duration.

This section’s score ranges from 200-800 points. 

The mathematics section is focused around 3 core areas, these include-

  1. Algebra which includes:
  • Graphical representation of the linear function
  • Linear equations with rational coefficients
  • Linear inequalities in two variables and their systems
  • System of linear equations (with no solution, infinite or finite solutions)

2. Data Analysis and Problem Solving which includes:

  • Percentages
  • Ratio and Proportion
  • Unit conversion
  • Equation of line or curve using a scatterplot
  • Two-way tables to calculate conditional frequencies and conditional probabilities
  • Association of variables or independence of events
  • Estimation of a population parameter
  • Calculation of mean, median, mode, range and standard deviation in statistics
  • Evaluation of reports to check the appropriateness of data collection methods

3. Advanced Math which includes-

  • Quadratic equations with rational coefficients
  • Determining the form of an expression
  • Polynomial equations (subtraction, multiplication, addition and division)
  • Zeros and factors of polynomials
  • Non-linear relationship between two variables
  • Function notation
  • Isolation of a variable by rearrangement of formula or equation.

Tips to ace the math section in SAT exam syllabus

The only way to ace the math section is through consistent practice of the various topics of the syllabus, this will help you gain confidence while attempting the pattern. Since math is based heavily on practical knowledge it is important that your basics of the concepts are absolutely clear.


It is always better to check the university requirements before applying for the SAT examination. While the essay component in the examination is optional, many universities expect you to score well in this section as well. Many universities also have it listed as a required or recommended section. 

The essay section of the SAT exam syllabus helps the university determine your reading, writing, and analytical skills all at once. This section is panned out in a manner where you will be expected to read a 650-700 words long passage, after reading the passage you will have to analyze how the author builds the argument and write it in a coherent manner in a 50-minute duration.

This section of the SAT exam syllabus is a standard feature that essentially deals with your analytical prowess of assessing and identifying how an author supports their argument as well as builds it.

Tip to Ace the Optional Essay Section of SAT Exam Syllabus

While preparing for this section, it is important that you understand how to develop an analytical approach to reading the paragraph so that you can write an analysis that is not tainted by your personal opinion or bias. 

This can only be mastered through continuous practice. Also, by engaging with articles of different authors helps you get a better idea about how different authors build their arguments.

Resources For SAT Exam Syllabus

Once you have a fair idea of the SAT exam syllabus, you will need certain resources that will help you prepare better for the examination. Here is a list of a few books that will help you prepare better.

While we have provided you with all the necessary information about the SAT exam syllabus which will help you in preparing for the exam from a more informed place, we understand that the study abroad process can seem scary and confusing at first. But you don’t have to prepare for the examination with doubts in your mind, let the experts at Leverage Edu help clarify every doubt that stands between you and your dreams.

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