Manhattan Review SAT Prep – SAT Sections

Overview and Format

The 2022 SAT is, broadly speaking, an evaluation of verbal skills and of mathematical ability, but it is important for students to understand how the test is structured. The macro-level organizational scheme of the SAT includes what the College Board refers to as "sections" and "tests." The SAT is divided into two large sections that are called "Evidence-Based Reading and Writing" and "Math." Each of these sections is scored from 200 to 800, for a total score of 400-1600. There are three total tests within these sections: Reading (for which students are given 65 minutes), Writing and Language (35 minutes), and Math (80 minutes). The Reading and Writing and Language tests together constitute the score on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section, and the Math section score is drawn entirely from the Math test.

SAT Reading Test

The SAT Reading Test consists entirely of multiple-choice questions that require students to infer correct answers from several different types of reading passages. Some of these passages are primarily narrative, while others are largely informational. Subjects covered include U.S. and world literature, history and social studies, and science. Test-takers can also expect to see paired passages that require drawing conclusions from two different sources and passages that include informational graphics (e.g., charts and tables). The difficulty level of reading passages ranges from relatively simple to highly complex.

SAT Writing and Language Test

The SAT Writing and Language Test is also a series of multiple-choice questions derived from reading passages. Successful performance comes from the ability to choose answers that reflect writing skills such as optimal sentence construction, correct grammar, best word choice, and accuracy, with the overall goal of improving the test passages' quality of writing. Reading passages on the Writing and Language Test are drawn from the humanities, history and social sciences, career-related issues, and science. The difficulty level of reading passages that appear on the SAT varies within a given test, but is consistent across multiple test administrations.

SAT Math Test

The SAT Math Test emphasizes three areas: Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Passport to Advanced Math. Heart of Algebra asks students to solve and create equations, while Problem Solving and Data Analysis is oriented around proportional reasoning (e.g., ratios, percentages, and data analysis). Passport to Advanced Math features complex equations and functions, and there is also a brief segment on Additional Topics in Math such as geometry, trigonometry, radian measure, and complex numbers. Additional Topics generally include six questions (three in the no-calculator Math section and three in the calculator Math section). Question types include multiple choice and gridded response, the latter of which require test-takers to write out a numerical answer and fill in the corresponding circles. The Math Test is divided into calculator and no-calculator portions.

Summary of Section Changes on the 2022 SAT

The revisions that have been made to the current version of the SAT are generally considered quite minimal. In 2021, the College Board announced it was discontinuing the then-optional essay, as well as SAT Subject Tests, and these are the most significant changes from the 2016 SAT, the last year the exam underwent extensive changes and revisions. Otherwise, the 2022 SAT continues to use the same 1600-point scoring system as the 2016 SAT and continues to be completed using the paper-and-pencil method.

In early 2022, the College Board announced that a digital version of the SAT will be offered to international students beginning in 2023 and to high school students in the United States in 2024. This test will be significantly shorter than the current version, clocking in at closer to two hours rather than three hours, but sections, content, and scoring do not appear to be undergoing additional changes as the test transitions to digital format.