SAT Exam Format 2023: Check SAT Paper Pattern & Duration here


Aishwarya Bhatnagar

Aishwarya BhatnagarStudy Abroad Expert

Updated on Nov 10, 2023 17:01 IST

There are two broad sections - Reading and Writing (RW) and Math are tested in the current SAT exam which has gone digital. Both RW and Math sections are scored separately on a range of 200-800. Questions tested on the SAT exam in the digital mode are MCQ-based and for some of the math questions applicants would need to write an answer rather than select it. One of the major advantages of the new SAT pattern is that the 'no negative marking' system still continues. SAT exam pattern 2023 has witnessed a couple of changes like the overall SAT exam timing has reduced, the use of calculators has been permitted for all Math questions and there is just one consolidated Reading & Writing Section. Check out New SAT Format 2023: Difference Between Old and New SAT Format.

Q:   What is the SAT Digital exam pattern?


The SAT Digital exam pattern is divided into two main sections of reading + writing and maths sections. All questions tested on SAT 2023 are MCQ based with 11 SPR type questions. The SAT exam is 2 hours and 14 minutes long with a 10 minute break in between. Both sections are divided into two modules, each of them are of the same duration. There have been a couple of changes which have been marked between old SAT exam and new Digital SAT exam. 

As per the new SAT or SAT digital, the SAT exam pattern has changed slightly. The subject tests have been scrapped, essays are no more a part of the SAT exam for international students. The duration of SAT digital has reduced by almost one hour. The total number of questions have also reduced. Candidates are allowed to bring a basic calculator for answering all Math section questions or use the graphic calculator on Bluebook.

Also, the new SAT exam pattern gives the students the benefit of attempting the exam on their own devices, which is a boon for students. This also boosts the applicant's morale. 

Q:   Is it possible to improve SAT score as per the new pattern?


Identify your weak areas and if possible also find the reason then you will be able to work on them better. Starting working on your weak areas and also give practice tests timely, so, you won't lose hold on other areas. Also, keep a time-bound approach to get your targeted score. Also, see if you need to change your strategy or study pattern then do it.

Q:   Is the SAT 2023 pattern beneficial for students?


Yes, the latest SAT digital exam pattern for 2023 testing is definitely beneficial for international students. There are various benefits - SAT exam duration has reduced, there is no need to carry a calculator because it is available on the Bluebook App, calculators can be used for all maths questions, the SAT syllabus has clubbed two sections into one i.e. reading and writing and the most important part is that the exam has gone digital from pencil-paper test. 

SAT Digital Exam Pattern Highlights 2023

SAT Digital Parameters

SAT Digital Reading & Writing (RW) Section

SAT Digital Math Section



Two-staged: one tests Reading and the other the Writing section. Both are administered across separately timed modules.

Two-staged: The math section is administered via two separately timed modules.



Test length (total operational and pretest questions)

1st module:

  • 25 operational questions
  • 2 pretest questions

2nd module:

  • 25 operational questions
  • 2 pretest questions

1st module:

  • 20 operational questions
  • 2 pretest questions

2nd module:

  • 20 operational questions
  • 2 pretest questions

Time Duration

1st module & 2nd module: 32 minutes each

1st module & 2nd module: 35 minutes each

Total Questions



Total Time Allocated

64 minutes

70 minutes

Scores Reported

Total score calculation: SAT RW section + SAT Math section scores = 1600

Question Type(s)

Discrete; MCQs with four options

MCQ (75%) and student-produced response (SPR)(25%)

Topics Tested

Literature, History / Social Studies, Humanities and Science

Science, Social Science and real-world related topics

Informational Graphics

Tested, includes - tables, bar graphs, line graphs

Also tested



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SAT 2023 Exam Pattern

The exam pattern for the SAT exam includes two sections on the SAT. The first is the SAT Reading & Writing (RW) section and the second is the SAT Math section. The SAT exam pattern has changed and has become more simplified and a standard, for all international students. Previously SAT was divided into Reasoning Test and Subject Test with an optional essay too. But now the SAT exam pattern includes just testing RW and Math sections based on high school knowledge and SAT scores are calculated section wise which equals to a total of 1600. At present, international students are not required to sit for SAT subject tests or have the option to select the optional essay while registering for SAT exam

Latest SAT Paper Pattern 2023

The SAT exam is mostly objective in nature and for a total of 2 hrs and 14 mins. Candidates would have to attempt a total of 98 questions tested in both SAT sections of RW & Math. The following is the latest SAT Exam/Test Pattern for the year 2023 for students looking to appear for their next SAT Reasoning Test for higher education to universities/ colleges abroad.

SAT Sections 2023

Number of Questions Tested

Total Duration (mins)

Reading & Writing









Students preparing to appear for SAT in 2023, should also check out the SAT syllabus for 2023 and prepare accordingly.

Q:   How is the new SAT pattern different from the old pattern?


There is a big difference between new and old SAT exam pattern. First of all the new SAT exam is called as SAT Digital because it has digitalised and is no more tested offline. Secondly, the SAT Digital exam pattern has changed and it has become even easier for students to attempt the exam. The other rules for registration have remained the same. Check out the difference below between SAT exam and SAT Digital exam.

SAT Exam (Old)

The old SAT pattern consisted of three sections and an optional writing section as well. The exam duration on the old SAT pattern was longer, around 3+ hours and the additional time for the writing section. The old SAT was paper-pencil based and included different reading and writing sections. The math section on old SAT included a calculator section and a non-calculator section.

SAT Digital Exam (New)

While in the new SAT pattern the exam has gone digital and the duration has decreased by an hour plus no optional writing section is available. There are just two sections, reading and writing are now one section, math is the second section. The math section allows students to use calculator for both modules. The questions have become shorter and the students can answer 30% faster than other exams tested on a similar pattern. 

Q:   Is the new SAT pattern easy for international students?


The level of ease of the new SAT pattern solely depends on the applicant's preparation for the exam. The new SAT exam pattern has its pros like its shorter in duration, its now digital, the time for answering questions on SAT is 68% higher than on ACT, the reading and writing section is now one section and calculators can be used for all math questions on SAT. The ease is definitely for giving the exam but the syllabus and prep tips remain constant.

Q:   Will the SAT pattern change again?


The changes in SAT pattern come officially from College Board, which administers the exam officially across the globe at its partner centres. SAT exam pattern changes are usually not very frequent, hence if there is any change that comes up, there will be an official notification for the same. For now the proposed SAT pattern is final and there is no intimation for any changes. 

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SAT Pattern 2023 with Score Range

The SAT question paper pattern includes two main sections and both SAT sections are scored on a similar score range which equals 1600. Check out the SAT section-wise bifurcation for the upcoming 2023 SAT exam dates for international students: 

SAT Section and no. of questions

Time Duration (mins)

Score Range

Reading + Writing

(54 MCQ-Questions)

64 minutes

SAT Reading & Writing score range: 200 to 800


10 minutes



(33 MCQs + 11 SPR-type Questions)

70 minutes

SAT Math score range: 200 to 800

Both methods have their unique benefits and are equally good with quantifiable benefits. There are a lot of times that many students could find appearing for their SAT exam challenging. Hence, it is always important for candidates to have appeared for as many SAT Mock Tests / SAT Practice Papers as possible to be able to self-evaluate their preparations and appear for their SAT Exam.

Until Feb 2023, the SAT exam pattern hadn't changed but with digital SAT being introduced, a new SAT exam pattern was introduced too. The SAT exam pattern for the digital test is live outside of the US state for now. The US will witness SAT Digital 2024 year onwards. Get in touch with us in the comments below if you have queries. 

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SAT Exam 2023 Pattern FAQs

Q. Is the new SAT exam pattern hard?

A. SAT includes a various set of questions from very easy to very difficult. Easy questions are usually answered correctly by 90% of the students while hard questions are answered correctly by less than 30 % of students. To know whether SAT is difficult or not one must learn the SAT exam pattern. So, if you like reading and more into words then the Reading section will be smooth for you. Similarly, you need to understand the complete pattern and see whether it is difficult for you or not.

Q. Is negative marking there in the SAT 2023 pattern?

A. In the earlier version candidates lose marks for every wrong answer, whereas, as per the latest SAT digital exam pattern 2023, there is no negative marking. So, you should try to answer as many questions as you can. There will be no penalty for marking wrong answers or for guessing answers. Thus, the new SAT exam pattern has this benefit of no negative marking. 

Q. Is SAT exam pattern different from ACT exam pattern?

A. Yes, SAT exam pattern differs from ACT exam pattern in a big way. Check out below how SAT pattern differs from ACT pattern:

  • ACT consistes of four sections, while SAT consists of only two sections.
  • There is no optional essay section in SAT exam, it has been discontinued. Students can still opt for the optional writing section on ACT.
  • SAT is scored on a range of 400-1600 while ACT is scored on 1-36 score range.
  • ACT has a separate Science section, whereas SAT doesn't test science subject separately but in its reading section. 

Q. Does the new SAT pattern include any specific subject tests?

A. No, subject tests are no longer functional hence, there are no subject-related tests on SAT anymore. But yes, there are subject specific sections like English and Mathematics which are tested on the SAT exam. The SAT exam pattern doesn't directly have Science subject topics, but its tested in the reading and writing section of the SAT.




abrar hussain

2 weeks ago

how much do I need to score to get a seat in vit vellore cse?

Reply to abrar hussain


Aishwarya BhatnagarStudy Abroad Expert

a week ago

Hello Abrar! You will have to check the university website or with the respective course department and enquire about the accepted SAT score range. You can also check out the previous year's cutoff and plan your preparation accordingly. Hope this helps! All the very best!

Hello! You will have to check with the university and the course department you are applying to for a definite cutoff. Aim accordingly for the SAT score based on the previous year's cutoff. Hope this helps! All the best!


Bishop Bishop

3 months ago

Hi. You mentioned there are 25 operational questions and 2 pretest questions per module on the Reading and Writing sections. But I see a total of 33 questions per module. Can you explain this please?

Reply to Bishop Bishop


Aishwarya BhatnagarStudy Abroad Expert

3 months ago

Hello! There are 54 questions in the Reading + Writing section divided into 27 + 27 questions per module and there are 44 questions in the Math section. Please read the above-given details carefully for a better understanding.


Daya Sagar Yadav

4 months ago

can I know the benefits of writing SAT exam

Reply to Daya Sagar Yadav


Aishwarya BhatnagarStudy Abroad Expert

4 months ago

Hello! Please elaborate on your query.


Saloni Sharma

4 months ago

which exam should I give to pursue M.Sc abroad?

Reply to Saloni Sharma


Aishwarya BhatnagarStudy Abroad Expert

4 months ago

Hello! You can check the university you are applying to and understand course-specific admission requirements. If you need help, you can elaborate more on your query or get in touch with Shiksha counsellors at: Good luck!


Ishita Yadav

4 months ago

It's been two years since I did my 12th, I am eligible for it in 2023?

Reply to Ishita Yadav


Aishwarya BhatnagarStudy Abroad Expert

4 months ago

Hello Ishita! Yes, you are eligible to sit for SAT.

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