SAT Time Breakdown With Breaks

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For any student considering to take the SAT, here’s the full SAT time breakdown with breaks that you should use to help your test prep.

In addition to how the test timing breaks down, here are some additional SAT test day tips you should know before signing up.

SAT Time Breakdown With Breaks Overview

The SAT is divided into three main sections consisting of four tests with the optional Essay section.

The SAT’s total length (minus breaks and Essay section) is 180 minutes. For students electing to take the SAT Essay, an additional 50 minutes is added on, for 230 minutes in total.

SAT Time Breakdown Per Section

  • Reading Section: 65-minutes allotted to answer 52 questions (75 seconds per question)
  • Writing and Language Section: 35-minutes allotted to answer 44 questions (48 seconds per question)
  • Math (No Calculator) Section: 25-minutes allotted to answer 20 questions (75 seconds per question)
  • Math (Calculator) Section: 55-minutes allotted to answer 38 questions (about 87 seconds per question)
  • Essay (optional): 50 minutes, one essay

How Many Breaks Do Students Receive?

Every SAT test administration has several breaks scheduled into the allotted time.

The first break is a 10-minute rest between the Reading section Test and the Writing and Language section Test. Later on, there’s a 5-minute break between the different Math section tests.

For most students, that’s it. However, if you also take the SAT Essay, you’ll also get a 2-minute break after the Math calculator-approved test.

What Time Does the Test Start?

For every administration date, the test center doors open at 7:45 a.m. and close at 8 a.m.

Once test-takers arrive in the testing room, the designated proctor collects all electronic devices and backpacks. Every calculator is also checked to make sure it is an approved model.

After everyone is checked in, seated, and ready to start, the proctor distributes the test materials and reads the instructions. The test begins between 8:30 and 9 a.m., depending on how long these previous steps take to finish.

Details For When Testing Actually Begins

First, you will wait until assigned your seat.

Here’s what happens next:

  • The proctor will read all instructions from the official manual and answer any questions about procedure alone.
  • The proctor will also tell you when to begin and finish working on each test section.
  • You will then work on each test section only in the allotted time.
  • You cannot go back to a section’s questions once that specific section has finished.
  • Pause if you finish a section early. You cannot start the next section if you finish the current one early.
  • Do not skip sections. Potential penalties for doing so include score cancellation, delays, or both.
  • Once the test is finished, the proctor will collect and count all test books to make sure everything is received before dismissing you.

Break Tips To Remember

Remember, your two main breaks are the only times you’re allowed to eat and drink.

  • Always keep your ID and admission ticket with you. They’ll be checked every time you enter the testing room.
  • Your test book, answer sheet, and calculator must remain on your desk during your breaks.
  • Don’t use this time to power up any devices, like cell phones. The penalty for doing so is score cancellation.

How To Know How Much Time Is Left

The proctor will announce how much time is left for every section.

The first announcement’s timing depends on each section’s length, but it normally comes at the halfway point. The final warning is given with 5 minutes before the section ends.

Once time is up, you’ll be told: “Please stop work and put your pencil down.” The proctor will also post exact times when each test section starts and stops, as well as when testing resumes after scheduled breaks.

When Does The SAT End?

The release time varies slightly by each testing center.

Remember, the main sections take 3 hours and students receive 15 minutes in breaks to use. There’s also setup time and instructions before each section begins. The SAT Essay also adds an additional 50 minutes for students who choose to take it.

Students taking the test without the Essay should finish somewhere between 12:15 and 12:45 p.m. Students taking the test with the Essay section normally finish between 1 and 1:30 p.m.

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