How Long Does The SAT Take?

Wondering how long you should be seated in the SAT Test Center? Learn How Long Does the SAT Take, how to prepare for the test efficiently and manage time better.

Updated by TCM Staff on 19th October 2020

The SAT test takes up to 3 hours( 180 minutes) with no breaks and 3 hours and 15 minutes(195 minutes) with the breaks. SAt usually comprises of 3 sections and one options essay section which takes about 50 minutes.

On the whole, the SAT takes 3 hours with no breaks and 3 hours 50 minutes for students who choose to take up the SAT essay.

When it comes to competitive exams such as the SAT, the most important factor that affects the student’s performance can be time. Starting from the registration process to exams and the college admission process, time plays an important role.

In this article, we will be exploring when does the SAT test starts and how long does it take, and more.

Table of content

Read More - What is the SAT?

What Time Does The SAT Start?

Generally, the SAT exam starts around 8:30 to 9:00 AM, it is a Standardized test, hence the rules and regulations are followed strictly. So, students won’t be allowed to enter the examination hall once the test begins.

However, the accurate time is never determined and it is not uniform either. Instead, the timing varies from one testing center to the other based on the number of the students' registration completed for each testing center.

What Time Should The Student Arrive For The SAT?

The college board recommends that the student should arrive at the testing center no later than 7:45 AM. As it is a fair idea to get to the test center a little earlier to skip the last-minute pressure, which might lead to stress and anxiety. As the SAT starts at around 8:30-9:00 and ends after three hours without a break and 3 hours fifty minutes with the break.

SAT Test Length

The SAT is 4 hours and 5 minutes long in total. This includes the optional essay and breaks.

The following table shows the breakdown of the number of questions and total time



Number of questions

Total time(Minutes)

Time per question





1 minute 15 seconds


Break 1





Writing and Language



47 seconds


Math (No Calculator)



1 minute 15 seconds


Break 2





Math Calculator



1 minute 26 seconds


Break 3








(1 essay 50 min)

*Note: The time required for each question in a particular section is an estimation.

If a student is not taking the optional essay section, then they need not wait any further.

How To Plan For 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 have to answer all the questions to score high on the SAT, but that doesn’t mean you get points for every question you attend, it is based on correct answers for the questions. So doing a few questions correctly can also make you score high.

2. Practice Test

Take a full practice test and make note of your time for each section and for the type of questions you were able to answer quickly. Also, keep an eye on those questions that kill your time. Taking a demo is seriously suggested before the exam.

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