How Long is the SAT?

As you study for your SAT, you might be wondering: “how long is the SAT?” Learn about the SAT test time and find out how many questions are on the SAT.

TCM Staff

8th December 2021

Have you ever felt pressed for time while writing a final exam or test? That pressure might increase when the test you’re writing might make or break your university acceptance. 

Just how long is the SAT? And how many questions are on the SAT? Here we’ll answer those questions as well as offer an SAT time breakdown and share the SAT time per section. 

Table of Contents

Read More - What is the SAT?

How Long is the SAT?

Wondering, “how long does the SAT take without breaks?” Well, the SAT test takes up to 3 hours (180 minutes) with no breaks. 

But, you might want to get a glass of water or a snack mid-test. How long is the sat with breaks? The SAT test time with breaks is 3 hours and 15 minutes (195 minutes)

The SAT comprises 3 sections, including one optional essay section that takes about 50 minutes. So if you write the SAT with the optional essay, the SAT test time without breaks is 3 hours and 50 minutes, while the SAT test time with breaks is 4 hours and 5 minutes. 

What Time Does The SAT Start?

Generally, the SAT exam starts between 8:30 to 9:00 a.m. The time depends on how long it takes to register each student. We recommend you arrive early to hear any instructions without feeling rushed. The College Board recommends that you arrive at 7:45 a.m. 

SAT Time Per Section

Wondering, “how many questions are on the SAT?” The following table shows the SAT number of questions per section, as well as the time breakdown per section. 









65 minutes (8:30-9:35)

1 minute 15 seconds


Break 1


10 minutes (9:35 - 9:45)



Writing and Language


35 minutes (9:45 - 10:10)

48 seconds


Math (Calculator)


55 minutes for “calculator section” (10:10 - 10:35)

1 minute 26 seconds

Break 2


5 minutes (10:35 - 10:40)



Math  (No calculator)


25 minutes for “no calculator” section (10:40 - 11:35) 

1 minute 15 seconds




50 (11:35 - 12:25)

(1 essay 50 min)

*Note: The time required for each question in a particular section is an estimation that evenly splits the time per question. 

How To Manage Time While Writing The SAT?

One of the common mistakes most of the test takers make is they don’t plan the timing for the SAT and end up spending more time than required for a question. Hence, the climax of the exam will be with a lot of careless mistakes.

But don’t worry, here are the tips that help you manage time effectively and score more.

1. Answer What You Know

Remember, you won’t score marks for answering a question just for the sake of answering. You must answer as many questions as you can correctly. Pass through the easy ones and answer what you know, and take your time to ensure you answer questions correctly if you’re stumped. 

2. Take a Practice Test

Take a full practice test and make note of your time for each section. This will help you prepare for the real thing! As you practice, make a note of the questions that take up a lot of your time, so that you look out for those during the real test. 

3. Don’t Waste Your Time on Hard Questions

If you look at the SAT test time breakdown chart, you’ll notice an estimated time allotment for each question. Neither section (apart from the essay) has an even distribution of more than 2 minutes per question, and that’s generous. 

Be conscious of your time and if you feel like you're taking too long on a certain question — it’s time to move on!


As a quick recap: how long is the SAT test? It’s between 3 hours to 4 hours and 5 minutes, depending on whether you take breaks and whether you take the optional essay. When planning for the SAT, it helps to know how long each section is so you can manage your time wisely. Remember not to spend too much time on tough questions and to pace yourself. 

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