How Long Is the SAT?

The SAT booklet is the same length and width as standard U.S. Letter paper. So, the SAT is about 11 inches long (and 8.5 inches wide) … Ha!

Now that we’re all smiling, let’s dive into the two closely interrelated meanings of “How long is the SAT?” that you came here for:

  • Duration: How much time does the SAT take?
  • Total volume: How many questions are on the SAT?

We’ll also touch on other factors related to SAT timing, including scheduled start time, breaks, and proctors’ warnings.

How Long is the SAT

Here are the topics we’ll cover:

Let’s start by taking a look at how long each section of the SAT is.

How Long Are the SAT Test Sections?

The 2022-2023 SAT will have four sections. As shown on the College Board website, the sections will always appear in the same order, with the following durations:

SAT test length

What Is the Total Testing Time?

The total testing time for all four sections of the 2022-2023 SAT (without the essay)—for the test sections only, NOT counting breaks—is 180 minutes.

KEY FACT:

The total testing time for the 2022-2023 SAT (without the essay) is exactly 3 hours.

When Are the Breaks During the SAT?

There are two scheduled breaks between sections:

  • Between Sections 1 and 2, the two verbal sections, you’ll get a 10-minute break.
  • Between Sections 3 and 4, the two math sections, you’ll get a 5-minute break.

Pay attention to the designated areas where you need to stay during the SAT. During these two breaks, you’ll most likely be restricted to the testing area, restrooms, and the adjoining hallway. If you stray from the designated areas, or if you’re overheard discussing any part of the exam with others, you’ll be dismissed and your scores will be voided!

How Long Does the SAT Last, Start to Finish?

Including breaks, the 2022-2023 SAT will last 195 minutes, or 3 hours and 15 minutes.

This is definitely more of a marathon than a sprint! So, at home before the test, be sure to eat a nutritious, well-balanced meal that is rich in both protein and complex carbohydrates. (But don’t stuff yourself.) This type of meal will be the ideal breakfast to fuel your brain for the duration of the SAT, so you’re unlikely to ‘crash’ partway through the test or experience big swings in your alertness. A balanced breakfast can also help regulate your stress levels during the SAT.

KEY FACT:

From start to finish, including breaks, the 2022-2023 SAT lasts for 3 hours and 15 minutes.

How Long Will I Spend in the Test Center?

The entire duration of your 2022-2023 SAT experience on test day will include the time needed for preliminary procedures: filling out your personal information on the answer sheet, signing and dating your forms, and going over rules and procedures with your proctor.

These initial formalities should take about half an hour, for a grand total of 3 hours and 45 minutes of closed-door time inside the test center.

Since you can be admitted up to 15 minutes early, you could be inside the test center for up to 4 hours.

How Can I Track Time During the SAT?

Your testing area should have at least one clock prominently displayed where you can easily see it without having to wheel around or crane your neck.

In addition, your proctor will issue a predetermined set of time cues out loud for all test-takers to hear.

What Time Warnings Will My Proctor Give?

Here is the entire slate of time cues that your proctor will be instructed to speak aloud.

SECTION 1: Reading (65 minutes)

At the beginning: Time starts now.

After 30 minutes: You have 35 minutes remaining in Section 1.

After 60 minutes: You have 5 minutes remaining in Section 1.

After 65 minutes: Please stop work and put your pencil down.

10-Minute Break

The proctor should post the clock time that ends the break, when testing will resume. The proctor will not be required to give any time cues out loud during the break.

SECTION 2: Writing & Language (35 minutes)

At the beginning: Time starts now.

After 15 minutes: You have 20 minutes remaining in Section 2.

After 30 minutes: You have 5 minutes remaining in Section 2.

After 35 minutes: Please stop work and put your pencil down.

SECTION 3: Math, No Calculator (25 minutes)

At the beginning: Time starts now.

After 10 minutes: You have 15 minutes remaining in Section 3.

After 20 minutes: You have 5 minutes remaining in Section 3.

After 25 minutes: Please stop work and put your pencil down.

5-Minute Break

The proctor should post the time when testing will resume. The proctor will not necessarily issue any cues aloud.

SECTION 4: Math, With Calculator (55 minutes)

At the beginning: Time starts now.

After 25 minutes: You have 30 minutes remaining in Section 4.

After 50 minutes: You have 5 minutes remaining in Section 4.

After 55 minutes: Please stop work and put your pencil down.

KEY FACT:

Your proctor will issue spoken time warnings on the schedule above. These will be valuable no matter what, but especially if there is any issue with the clocks in your testing room.

When Should I Get to the Test Center?

For Saturday administrations of the 2022-2023 SAT, the doors at your test center will open by 7:45 AM. The doors will close at 8:00 AM sharp.

Don’t be late! If you arrive after the doors close, you’ll be turned away and your test will be canceled.

What About the Optional Essay?

The optional SAT essay of previous years is no more. The weekend administrations of the 2022-2023 SAT, on nationwide test dates, will not offer an essay section.

However, there is a small group of test-takers in certain states who will, in fact, see an essay on their 2022-2023 SAT. If you’re one of these test-takers, you’ll write the essay as an additional section, after you finish the four sections that make up the SAT without essay.

Who Completes the Essay?

The only 2022-2023 SAT administrations with an essay will be given during school hours, in states that have adopted the SAT as part of their mandatory statewide 11th grade public-school assessment testing. These states are Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma.

If you’re a rising junior at a public high school in one of these states, you’ll take the SAT with essay at school sometime in March or April 2023. If that’s you, please check with your high school guidance counselor or your college admissions advisor for exact test dates and times.

What Is the Length of the SAT With Essay?

If you’re one of the “chosen few” who will take the 2022-2023 SAT with essay, you’ll have all the same timings and proctor cues as above, plus an additional 2-minute break and a 50-minute period during which to plan and write your essay.

Therefore, for these in-school administrations, the following times apply:

  • The total testing time will be 230 minutes (3 hours and 50 minutes).
  • The total duration from start to finish will be 247 minutes (4 hours and 7 minutes).
  • Your total time spent inside the testing area will be at least 277 minutes (4 hours and 37 minutes).

Good luck, and enjoy your test prep!

What’s Next?

Now that you know everything about SAT testing time, check out some tips for motivating yourself to study for the SAT.

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