SAT Exam Syllabus 2021: Everything You Need to Know About SAT Exam Syllabus & Pattern

Yocket Editorial Team

Updated on Sep 23, 2021

Exams Know-how | 9 min read

Scholastic Assessment Test, popularly known as SAT, is an exam conducted by the College Board to assess the students aspiring to get into undergrad schools, particularly to study in the U.S. and Canada.

Each academic year, this paper-based test is attempted by three million students across the globe. Given the competition, a test-taker must understand the SAT exam syllabus and pattern to prepare and perform well.

With an emphasis on real-life applications, the SAT syllabus is designed to evaluate the test-taker’s knowledge and skills developed during high school education.

The highlights of SAT Exam without the optional Essay are as follows:

Total No. of Questions


SAT Time Duration

180 minutes

Negative Marking


Overall Score Range



SAT Exam Pattern 2021

The SAT exam pattern comprises of 2 broad test sections, which further consists of subsections explained as follows:


The SAT Math test section evaluates problem-solving skills along with the ability to model and work around algebraic entities.

The SAT Math section has two subsections:

  • Math test- Calculator

  • Math test- No calculator

The SAT Math section has a score range of 200-800. And the time duration for the section is 80 minutes.

It consists of MCQ type and grid-based questions, which form 22 percent of the questions in the section. For grid-based questions, test-takers need to solve problems and enter the answers in the grids provided on the answer sheet.

SAT Section

No. of Questions

Allowed Time (Minutes)

Math test- Calculator



Math test- No calculator




Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW):

The Evidence Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) section is designed to evaluate a test-taker’s basic reading and writing skills.

The two subsections of EBRW are

  • Reading Test

  • Writing and Language Test

Similar to the SAT Math section, EBRW has a score range of 200-800.  Whereas the time duration for this section is 100 minutes.

It entirely consists of MCQs which are to be answered by analyzing the given passages and information graphics.

SAT Section

No. of Questions

Allowed Time (Minutes)




Writing and Language




SAT Exam Syllabus 2021

SAT Exam Syllabus is designed to include courses and topic areas which students have studied through their high school curriculum. The syllabus and topics for the SAT exam sections are explained as follows:

SAT Reading Test

The Reading section of SAT is designed in a way to test the reading skills developed during high school education and whether it is good enough to succeed in college.  It also checks how well you can analyze the given information at college and job.

For passage-based questions, the SAT Reading Test includes:

  • One passage from classic or contemporary work of the U.S. or world literature.

  • One passage or pair of passages from a text in Great Global Conversation inspired by the U.S. or a U.S founding document.

  • One selection about economics, sociology, psychology, or from other social science related area.

  • Two passages (one passage and one pair of passages) based on Science. These examine the foundations of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Earth Science.

The Reading Test measures a range of skills to assess your readiness for college. The 3 reading skills taken into account are explained as follows:

Reading Test Measure


Command of Evidence

Correlate a passage with an infographic. Figure out how evidence is used by an author to support a claim.

Find evidence supporting the previous passage's answer.

Find evidence to support a conclusion of a passage.


Words in Context

Figure out the meaning of words based on context clues in the passage. Analyze how the word choice of authors defines the tone, meaning, and phrase of a passage.

Analysis in History/Social Studies and Science

After reading related passages you may be needed to examine a hypothesis, interpret data and its implications


SAT Writing and Language Test

To answer the questions in the Writing and Language section, you will need to analyze the given passages and improve the same, by correcting the errors which were deliberately included.

The passages can range from non-fiction narratives to arguments revolving around topics such as careers, science, history, humanities, and social studies. Some passages can be accompanied by informational graphics, such as tables, graphs or charts.

In this section to answer a question you may have to analyze either a single sentence, an entire paragraph or informational graphic.

Writing Test Measures


Command of Evidence

Improve passage development in terms of ideas and information

Words in Context

Improve a passage for preciseness, conciseness, syntax, style, or tone by choosing contextual words

Analysis in Social Science/History and Science

Make edits on concerned subjects

Expression of Ideas

Judge passage’s impact and organization.

Standard English Conventions

Checking your verb tense, subject-verb agreement, comma use, and parallel construction, the questions ask you to change sentences, clauses, words, and punctuation. 


SAT Math Test

Syllabus for the SAT Math Test is designed with consideration of everyday application of mathematical concepts. Questions in this section are planned to as per the problem-solving encountered while studying in a college or in a professional setting.

While preparing for SAT Math syllabus, test-takers should sharpen their skills of problem-solving, using algebraic structure, modeling, and strategic use of tools.

Math Test Measures



While solving problems, you should be accurate, efficient, strategic, flexible, quick and able to find short cuts.

Conceptual Understanding

Relate math concepts, relations and operations such as an equation and its graph.


Analyze a real-world problem and find a solution mathematically.


The focus of the SAT Math Test is distributed across 4 broad areas:

  1. Heart of Algebra: To evaluate the proficiency with linear equations and systems

  2. Problem Solving and Data Analysis: To measure the quantitative literacy

  3. Passport to Advanced Math: To check test-taker’s manipulation of complex equations

  4. Additional topics in Math: To check the understanding of geometry and trigonometry related topics


SAT Subject Tests Syllabus

SAT Subject Tests, also known as SAT-2, are the admission tests designed around a particular subject area. Students looking to get admission into an undergrad program related to a specific subject area can demonstrate their mastery through these tests.

There are 20 SAT Subject Tests, divide into 5 broad subject topics as follows:

  1. Mathematics:
    Math Level 1 (contains questions on algebraic expressions, data analysis, number sequences and coordinate geometry) and Math Level 2 (contains additional questions on log functions and sines and cosines laws).

  2. Science:
    Biology E/M, Chemistry and Physics

  3. English:
    Literature Test

  4. History:
    US History and World History

  5. Languages:
    Spanish, Spanish with Listening, French, French with Listening, Chinese, Italian, German, German with Listening, Modern Hebrew, Latin, Japanese with Listening and Korean with Listening.


SAT Syllabus Updates and changes

In 2021 there have been 2 major updates introduced for the SAT exam syllabus & pattern as follows:

The optional SAT Essay is to be discontinued:

  • SAT essay has been planned to be discontinued by the College Board. Students who have registered for SAT up until June 2021 can attempt it or can cancel the same after an online request.

  • Post-June 2021, the optional SAT Essay will be made available by the College Board only in the U.S. states where it is required by SAT School Day Administration. Test-takers are advised to check the requirements with their target school.


The SAT Subject Tests are to be discontinued in the U.S.:

  • SAT subject tests will no longer be needed by the US students. Those who have already registered and made payment for the same, will be refunded.

  • For international students, two more administrations will be provided in May and June 2021. If international students do not wish to take it, they can contact customer service for its cancellation and get a refund.


Thus, the SAT exam syllabus and pattern is designed to test the knowledge and skills developed during the high school education. Understanding the SAT 2021 pattern and syllabus beforehand can help test-takers prepare better and achieve the desired score.