When preparing for the SAT or any other standardized tests, the time constraints of the exam in question are always one of the primary concerns and areas of focus in preparation.

As a result, many students who are preparing for the SAT may find themselves asking: “How long is each section of the SAT?” Figuring out a good pace when taking the exam can help students maximize their scores and get them one step closer to admission to their dream schools, especially those with high SAT score expectations.

In this article, we will break down and discuss the length and time constraints of each section of the SAT, and also discuss and analyze some related topics and areas of interest.

How Long is Each Section of the SAT?

First, we will discuss the lengths and time constraints of the four main sections of the SAT, which are Reading, Writing & Language, Math (No Calculator), and Math (Calculator).

How Long is the SAT Reading Section?

The SAT Reading Section contains 52 questions and has a time limit of 65 minutes.

This means, if you were to spend equal time on each question, you’d have approximately 75 seconds per question on the SAT Reading Section. 

In terms of pure number of minutes allowed, the SAT Reading Section is the longest section on the SAT. This means you have the most time to complete the SAT Reading Section relative to the other sections of the SAT. 

However, many students find the SAT Reading Section to be one of the most challenging to complete within its allotted time. This is likely because the SAT Reading Section has the most questions of any section on the SAT, and because it involves often lengthy and complicated passages.

However, if you practice sufficiently, and time yourself during practice, you can likely prepare yourself for the length SAT Reading Section.

How Long is the SAT Writing & Language Section?

The SAT Writing & Language Section contains 44 questions which must be completed in 35 minutes.

This means, if you were to spend an equal amount of time on each question within the section, you would have approximately 48 seconds per question on the SAT Writing & Language Section, which is the least amount of time per question on any of the sections of the SAT.

Many students may find themselves concerned about the relatively short amount of time provided to complete the SAT Writing & Language Section, especially given the fairly large number of questions on the section.

However, many students find this to be evened out by the fact that, comparatively, questions tend to be a bit shorter and less time-consuming on the Writing & Language section, as opposed to the Reading section. Studying the types of Writing questions will also help students get an edge on the section and reduce their test taking time.

How Long is the SAT Math (No Calculator) Section?

The SAT Math (No Calculator) Section contains 20 questions, which must be completed in a 25 minute time limit.

This means that, if you were to allocate an equal amount of time to each question on the SAT Math (No Calculator) Section, you would spend approximately 75 seconds on each question on the section. 

While the SAT Math (No Calculator) Section takes the least amount of time overall of any of the sections on the SAT, it also has the least amount of questions, which means that it isn’t the section with the most time pressure in terms of seconds per question (that, as we discussed, is actually the SAT Writing & Language Section).

Again, understanding the different types of questions the SAT will ask in both Math sections will allow students to study specific Math concepts ahead of time and work through problems more quickly on test day.

How Long is the SAT Math (Calculator) Section?

The SAT Math (Calculator) Section consists of 38 questions, which must be completed in a 55 minute time limit.

In other words, if you were to dedicate an equal amount of time to each question on the SAT Math (Calculator) Section, you would end up spending approximately 87 seconds on each question on the section.

The SAT Math (Calculator) Section is the second-longest section on the SAT in terms of total time, and the third longest in terms of number of questions. But it turns out to actually provide the most amount of time in terms of seconds per question of any of the sections on the SAT.

However, many of the questions are quite lengthy and complex, so this may even out for many students. Preparing under timed conditions is the best way to be ready for this or any section on the SAT.

What if I Don’t Finish the SAT on Time?

While the overall SAT takes a combined three hours (excluding breaks), each section is timed separately, as we discussed. This means that you can only use the allotted time on each section, and time does not carry over. Many students wonder: “What happens if I don’t answer every question on a section of the SAT?”

While you naturally want to aim to answer every question on all sections, as there is no penalty for guessing on the SAT, sometimes that doesn’t work out for one reason or another.

While this isn’t ideal, don’t worry! All your other answers will still be graded even if you don’t finish the entire section. If you can’t answer every question properly, you should still bubble in something for each question, since there is no penalty for guessing.

Do Most Students Finish the SAT on Time?

Generally, many students don’t finish every question on the SAT due to time constraints.

Students tend to find the ACT to be more of a time pressure test than the SAT, but the SAT time constraints can be challenging as well, which makes practicing under them all the more important.

While not answering every question is not the end of the world, you should strive to answer every question in time if you want to maximize your score on the SAT. Students can also minimize the chance this happens by preparing in advance (and cramming with a crash course if absolutely necessary). And, if the first attempt doesn’t go as planned, students can always retake the SAT if they have time.

Can Tutors Help With Timing?

SoFlo SAT Tutors have high scoring graduates and attendees of top universities who have mastered the SAT as resources for students looking to maximize their scores.

Check out our virtual tutoring services to find an SAT tutor who will help you towards your score goals, whether it’s your first take, second take, or beyond. 

Additional SAT Resources

About the Author

William Grossman

William Grossman is a student at the University of Florida studying Economics. He scored a 1500 on his SAT and a 32 on his ACT. While it may seem unorthodox, William always reads the last chapter of a new book before going back to read it from the beginning — that way, he can see if the book will be any good before deciding to read the whole thing!

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