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Sat Online Essay Test Taking

Read through the SAT Study Guide so you’ll know what to expect on test day. You'll find practice tips, test-taking strategies, sample questions, and more.

Practice tests are also available online so you can simulate test day and figure out how to focus your SAT study.

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Getting Ready for the SAT

Get tips and strategies to help you do your best on test day.

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Introducing the SAT

Find out how the SAT came to be, and what related services you can use along your path to college.

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Doing Your Best on the SAT

Work hard in school, familiarize yourself with the test’s format, and get some test-day tips to help you prepare.

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

Learn all about the Reading Test, the Writing and Language Test, and the SAT Essay.

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Command of Evidence

Understand the ways in which authors use evidence to support their arguments, and learn how to interpret different kinds of evidence.

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Words in Context

Think about how a word’s meaning changes and how authors’ word choices affect their work.

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About the SAT Reading Test

The Reading Test measures your skills in comprehending texts across a wide range of genres, purposes, and subjects.

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Reading: Information and Ideas

Think carefully about what a passage states and read between the lines to interpret the author’s message.

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Reading: Rhetoric

Analyze word choice, text structure, point of view, purpose, and argument to show how authors convey their messages.

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Reading: Synthesis

Make connections between related passages and draw conclusions about data found in tables and other informational graphics.

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Sample Reading Test Questions

Read through five sample passages and their related questions. Find out which answers are best and why.

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About the SAT Writing and Language Test

The Writing and Language Test measures your ability to revise and edit texts about different subjects and at different levels of complexity.

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About the SAT Essay

The redesigned SAT Essay is aligned to typical college writing assignments. Get tips, read the prompt and sample essays, and get ready to write.


Explore the Math Test.

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About the SAT Math Test

Get an overview of the Math Test’s structure, its various areas of focus, and the kinds of questions you’ll encounter.

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Heart of Algebra

These questions focus on your mastery of linear equations, systems of linear equations, and linear functions.

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Problem Solving and Data Analysis

These questions test your ability to use statistics, modeling, and other skills to solve problems set in the real world.

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Passport to Advanced Math

These questions cover topics important for students to master before moving on to advanced math.

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Additional Topics in Math

These questions focus on geometry, trigonometry, and the arithmetic of complex numbers.

The redesigned SAT Essay asks you to use your reading, analysis, and writing skills.

It’s About the Real World

The SAT Essay is a lot like a typical college writing assignment in which you’re asked to analyze a text. Take the SAT with Essay and show colleges that you’re ready to come to campus and write.

What You’ll Do

  • Read a passage.
  • Explain how the author builds an argument to persuade an audience.
  • Support your explanation with evidence from the passage.

What’s New

The SAT’s essay component has had a total makeover:

  • It’s optional—but some schools will require it. Get College SAT Essay policies.
  • You have 50 minutes to complete your essay, 25 minutes more than the required essay on the old SAT.
  • You won’t be asked to agree or disagree with a position on a topic or to write about your personal experience.

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The Essay Prompt

The prompt (question) shown below, or a nearly identical one, is used every time the SAT is given.

As you read the passage below, consider how [the author] uses evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.

  • evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.
  • reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.
  • stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.

Write an essay in which you explain how [the author] builds an argument to persuade [his/her] audience that [author’s claim]. In your essay, analyze how [the author] uses one or more of the features listed above (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of [his/her] argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage. Your essay should not explain whether you agree with [the author’s] claims, but rather explain how the author builds an argument to persuade [his/her] audience.

The Topic

You can count on seeing the same prompt no matter when you take the SAT with Essay, but the passage will be different every time.

All passages have these things in common:

  • Written for a broad audience
  • Argue a point
  • Express subtle views on complex subjects
  • Use logical reasoning and evidence to support claims
  • Examine ideas, debates, or trends in the arts and sciences, or civic, cultural, or political life
  • Always taken from published works

All the information you need to write your essay will be included in the passage or in notes about it.

What the SAT Essay Measures

The SAT Essay shows how well you understand the passage and use it as the basis for a well-written, thought-out discussion. The two people who score your essay will each award between 1 and 4 points in each of these three categories:

Reading: A successful essay shows that you understood the passage, including the interplay of central ideas and important details. It also shows an effective use of textual evidence.

Analysis: A successful essay shows your understanding of how the author builds an argument by:

  • Examining the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and other stylistic and persuasive techniques
  • Supporting and developing claims with well-chosen evidence from the passage

Writing: A successful essay is focused, organized, and precise, with an appropriate style and tone that varies sentence structure and follows the conventions of standard written English.

Take a look at the SAT Essay rubric, or guidelines, scorers use to evaluate every essay.

Who Should Take the SAT with Essay

You don’t have to take the SAT with Essay, but if you do, you’ll be able to apply to schools that require it. Find out which schools require or recommend the SAT Essay. If you don’t register for the SAT with Essay at first, you can add it later.

SAT fee waivers cover the cost of the SAT with Essay.

Sending Scores

If you take the SAT with Essay, your essay scores will always be reported along with your other scores from that test day. Even though Score Choice allows you to choose which day’s scores you send to colleges, you can never send only some scores from a certain test day. For instance, you can’t choose to send Math scores but not SAT Essay scores.

Reminder: Check the Score Choice policies of every college you’re applying to, because some schools require you to send scores from every time you’ve taken the SAT. If this sounds intimidating, keep in mind that many colleges consider your best.