What Subjects are on the SAT? – At a Glance


What is the SAT? 

Find out what are the subjects on the SAT in this article. There is an infographic at the end of this article that summarises all the subjects on the SAT.

So what are the subjects on the SAT?

The SAT stands for Scholastic Aptitude Test, formerly known as the SAT I and SAT II. It is a standardized test widely used for college admission in the United States. The test is intended to assess a student’s readiness for college. 

Students are usually required to take the SAT for most college applications. Whereas the Subject Tests [SAT II] are subject-specific tests that are optional. You may or may not be required to take depending on where you plan to apply for college. 

So what is the SAT and SAT Subject Test? 

The SAT 

Overview of what the SAT I covers. 

Section Duration Number of Questions
Reading 65 minutes 52
Writing and Language 35 minutes 44
Math 80 minutes 58
Essay (Optional) 50 minutes 1
Total 3h 50 minutes 

(3h without the essay)

154 (+1 essay prompt)
Score Range 400-1600


The SAT sections will always go in this order, beginning with Reading and ending with (if you choose to take it), the SAT Essay. 

SAT Reading

The SAT Reading section contains five passages with 52 multiple-choice questions. This means there will be able 10-12 questions for each passage. Some passages are paired with other passages, and some have graphics, such as tables, graphs or charts. 

There will be at least one passage from each other the following topics: 

  • The U.S. or world literature
  • The U.S. founding document or text inspired by one
  • Social Science (Economics, Psychology, Sociology) 
  • Science (Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry or Physics)

In the SAT Reading section, it tests the following skills: 

Command of Evidence Finding evidence in a passage that supports the answer to a question
Words in Context Use context clues to determine the meaning of a word
Analysis in History/Social Science and Science Examine, hypotheses, interpret data, and consider implications

SAT Writing and Language

Like the Reading section, the questions are based on passages. There will be four passages and a total of 44 questions. 


Each passage will cover one of the following subjects: 

Careers, Social Studies, Humanities, and Science. 

Careers – Discuss trends or debates in major professional fields, such as medicine, technology or business. 

Social studies – Focus on topics from History, Anthropology, Psychology, Political Science or Sociology

Humanities – Feature an author or explore trends in literature, drama, art, music or dance

Science – focus on Earth science, Biology, Chemistry or Physics. 


The passages will either be argument-based, explanatory, or nonfiction narrative. Similar to the reading section, at least one passage will be accompanied by a diagram. 

Each passage will be riddled with errors in punctuation, word choice, sentence structure, and organization. The questions in the section will ask you to identify and fix these errors. 

In the SAT Writing section, it tests the following skills: 

Words in Context, Expression of Ideas, and Standard English Conventions. 


Subjects that this section covers

Grammar Tests your ability to fix your grammar errors and correctly identify errors in verb tenses and forms, pronoun agreement, subject-verb agreement, run-on sentences, idioms, and punctuation rules. 
Style Tests your ability to analyze word choice, sentence construction, paragraph construction. 
Reading Comprehension Ability to understand why certain words or sentences are used in a given passage or if they should be replaced with other words or sentences. 


SAT Math

SAT Math consists of two sections. 

Section Multiple Choice Grid-in Time
First Section

(No Calculator)

15 questions 5 questions 25 minutes 
Second Section


30 questions 8 questions 55 minutes
Total 45 questions 13 questions 80 minutes


The SAT Math question types are sorted into three main subject areas: 

  • Heart of Algebra
  • Passport to Advanced Math
  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis

There is a fourth category, called Additional Topics, which includes questions on geometry, basic trigonometry, and complex numbers. 


Subjects This Section Covers

SAT Math covers four main sections, subdivided, that makes up about 24 main topics. 

Basic Algebra 

  • Linear Functions
  • Single variable equations
  • Systems of linear equations
  • Absolute value

Advanced algebra

  • Manipulating polynomials
  • Quadratic equations
  • Dividing polynomials
  • Exponential functions
  • Function Notation
  • Solving exponential equations

Problem Solving and Data Analysis

  • Ratio and proportions
  • Scatter Plots and graphs
  • Categorical data and probabilities
  • Experimental interpretation
  • Mean, median, mode, standard deviation 

Additional Topics

  • Coordinate geometry – lines and slopes
  • Coordinate geometry – nonlinear functions
  • Geometry 
    • Circles
    • Lines and Angles
    • Solid Geometry
  • Trigonometry
  • Complex Numbers

SAT Essay

The SAT Essay is an optional section, and you are given 50 minutes to plan and write one complete essay. For the essay, you will be given a passage by an author who has taken a stance on an issue. Your task is to analyze how the author builds her argument. 


For the SAT Essay, you actually use many skills similar to those you use in English classes. The examiners look out for your ability to analyze an argument and how you understand how evidence and rhetorical devices contribute to an argument. 


Looking for help in any of the four main components of the SAT? Reading, Writing and Language, Math or the Essay?

Tutopiya has highly trained and experienced graduate tutors in these areas. We are an Online Tutoring platform that provides lessons for students aged 8 to 18, for any curriculum. Try Online Tutoring with Tutopiya today with a FREE 60 minutes trial lesson.

Now moving on to the SAT Subject Tests. 


What Subjects are on the SAT? SAT Subject Test 

There are 20 SAT Subject Tests in five general subject areas: English, History, Languages, Mathematics and Science.

Subject Tests are meant to measure your knowledge and skills in a specific area, as well as showing your mastery in a certain subject area.

It is also taken to improve a student’s credentials for admission to college in the United States. 

Some colleges may require students to take specific Subject Tests as their entry requirement, therefore students are advised to check which subject tests are required to take to enter colleges of their choice. 


SAT Subject Test
Happens 6 times every year
20 Subjects offered


The SAT Subject Tests happen six times in any given school year, on the same day and in the same test centers as the SAT. 

Language with Listening tests is offered in November.

After 2020, tests are offered in May. Upcoming administrations are in November 2019, November 2020 (US, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands only.) and May 2021. 



You are allowed to take up to three Subject Tests on any test dates. 

You are not allowed to take the SAT and SAT Subject Test on the same day. 

Points are deducted for incorrect answers. 

¼ point deducted for every incorrect five-choice question

⅓ point deducted for every incorrect four-choice question

½ point deducted for every incorrect three-choice question


Characteristics of SAT Subject Tests

SAT Subject Tests
Duration 1 hour
Type Multiple-choice
Score 200-800


Section Topics 

Subjects Assessment
Math Level 1 College-Preparatory Math: use your algebra and geometry skills.
Math Level 2 Show that you know elementary functions, trigonometry, algebra, and geometry.
Biology E/M Focus on ecology, evolution, diversity or micro-level biology concepts.
Chemistry Show that you can use the main principles of chemistry to solve problems.
Physics Show that you can use the basic principles of physics to solve problems.
The U.S. History Showcase your grasp of history since pre-Columbian times.
World History  Demonstrate your grasp of developments across the globe since ancient times.

Spanish with Listening


French with Listening

Chinese with Listening



German with Listening

Modern Hebrew


Japanese with Listening

Show mastery of the language

Tutopiya offers Language Online Tuition for the SAT Chinese, French, and Spanish. Interested to find out more? Speak to our expert

Tutopiya also has a blog full of useful, educational information as well as resourceful notes for our SAT students. Read more on 5 Crucial Grammar Rules for SAT Writing. Visit our blog for more resources now! 

What Subjects are on the SAT? Take a look at this summarised infographic!


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