Digital SAT Test Structure

Two Sections

Reading and Writing

Texts in the Reading and Writing section are aligned with the growing text complexity demands across successively higher grades of schooling and with college and career readiness requirements.

The Reading and Writing sections across assessments in the SAT Suite (SAT, PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10, and PSAT 8/9) are the same in terms of content specifications and reflect one of the three complexity bands (grades 6–8, grades 9–11, and grades 12–14). There is one exception: PSAT 8/9 does not include passages from the highest (grades 12–14) text complexity band.

The range of difficulty of questions students are administered differs from assessment to assessment. In addition, the multistage adaptive nature of the testing engine, and the PSAT 8/9 text complexity constraint, ensure that students taking the various tests are given age- and attainment-appropriate questions, with allowances for higher- and lower-achieving students within each test-taking population to demonstrate the full extent of their ability.

Question Distribution

Content DomainSkill/Knowledge Testing PointsOperational Question Distribution
Craft and StructureWords in ContextText Structure and PurposeCross-Text Connections13–15 questions
Information and IdeasCentral Ideas and DetailsCommand of Evidence (Textual, Quantitative)Inferences12–14 questions
Standard English ConventionsBoundariesForm, Structure, and Sense11–15 questions
Expression of IdeasRhetorical SynthesisTransitions8–12 questions


The tests in the SAT Suite of Assessments measure the same skills and knowledge in ways that make sense for different grade levels. The Math sections keep pace with student progress, matching the scope and difficulty of work in the classroom. Of particular note:

  • Rational and radical equations (Advanced Math) are not represented on PSAT 8/9.
  • Trigonometry skills and knowledge are not assessed on PSAT 8/9.
  • Skills and knowledge associated with circles (Geometry and Trigonometry) are assessed only on the SAT.
  • In terms of number and proportion of questions:
    • Algebra is most prominent in PSAT 8/9 and decreases slightly at higher program (assessment) levels
    • The weight of Advanced Math increases by program level
    • The weighting of Problem-Solving and Data Analysis decreases slightly by program level
    • The weighting of Geometry and Trigonometry/Geometry remains largely consistent by level.
  • Other small variations by skill/knowledge testing point can be seen at different program levels.

Math Section Question Distribution

DomainSkill/Knowledge Testing PointsOperational Question Distribution
AlgebraLinear equations in one variableLinear equations in two variablesLinear functionsSystems of two linear equations in two variablesLinear inequalities in one or two variables13–15 questions (SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10) ~35%

16–18 questions (PSAT 8/9) ~42.5%
Advanced MathEquivalent expressionsNonlinear equations in one variable and systems of equations in two variablesNonlinear functions13–15 questions (SAT) ~35%

12–14 questions (PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10) ~32.5%

7–9 questions (PSAT 8/9) ~20%
Problem-Solving and Data AnalysisAll:
Ratios, rates, proportional relationships, and unitsPercentagesOne-variable data: distributions and measures of center and spreadTwo-variable data: models and scatterplotsProbability and conditional probabilitySAT only:
Inference from sample statistics and margin of errorEvaluating statistical claims: observational studies and experimentsPSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10:
Inference from sample statistics
5–7 questions (SAT) ~15%

7–9 questions (PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10) ~20%

9–11 questions (PSAT 8/9) ~25%
Geometry and TrigonometrySAT:
Area and volumeLines, angles, and trianglesRight triangles and trigonometryCirclesPSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10:
Area and volumeLines, angles, and trianglesRight triangles and right triangle trigonometryPSAT 8/9:
Area and volumeLines, angles, and triangles, including right triangles
5–7 questions (SAT) ~15%

4–6 questions (PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10 (Geometry and Trigonometry; PSAT 8/9) (Geometry) ~12.5%

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