The Critical Reading section of the SAT consists of three sections, with varying types of questions, including sentence completions and questions about short and long reading passages.
The sections normally begin with five to ten sentence completion questions. The questions will test your vocabulary and understanding of sentence structure and organization by requiring you to select one or two words which best complete a given sentence.
The bulk of Critical Reading questions is made up of questions in which you read short excerpts on social sciences, humanities, sciences, or personal narratives and answer questions based on the information in the excerpts. Certain sections may contain passages asking you to compare two related passages. Questions that follow the long and short reading passages are organized chronologically, rather than by difficulty.
The writing section of the SAT includes multiple choice questions and a brief essay.
The multiple choice questions include error identification questions, sentence improvement questions, and paragraph improvement questions.
Error identification and sentence improvement questions test your knowledge of grammar. In the error identification section, you must locate the word producing the source of the error or indicate that the sentence has no error. In the sentence improvement section, you are required to select an acceptable fix to the awkward sentence.
The paragraph improvement questions test your understanding of logical organization of ideas. It presents a poorly written student essay and asks a series of questions as to what changes might be made to best improve it.
The essay section, which is always administered as the first section of the test, is twenty-five minutes long. All essays must be in response to a given prompt. The prompts are broad and often philosophical, and are designed to be accessible to students regardless of their educational and social backgrounds. For instance, you may be asked to expound on ideas such as the value of work in human life, or whether democracy represents an ideal system of government.
Most of the questions on the SAT are multiple-choice; all multiple-choice questions have five answer choices, exactly one of which is correct. The questions of each section are generally ordered by difficulty. However, questions that follow the long and short reading passages are organized chronologically, rather than by difficulty.
Ten of the questions in one of the math sub-sections are not multiple choice but are grid-in answers. In the writing section, you would need to write an essay.
The test contains 3 hours and 45 minutes of actual timed sections. However, administrations, including orientation, distribution of materials, etc would mean that the total test may take about 5 hours.
We welcome your feedback, comments and questions about this site - please submit your feedback via our Feedback page.