What’s on the SAT in 2024 (with real example questions!)

Bonus Material: PrepMaven DSAT Full Diagnostic

Taking the SAT in 2024? Looking for a good, great, or even perfect score to boost your odds of college admissions? Then this post is for you: we’ll cover exactly what content you need to understand to ace the SAT. 

At PrepMaven, we’ve helped thousands of students earn their dream SAT scores, with many of them scoring 1500+ on the SAT. We’ve also spent countless hours researching the SAT so that we can offer you the best advice on how to prepare for it. 

This post will cover the specific content tested on the SAT, breaking it down into clearly defined concepts that you can then study on your own or with one of our top-scoring tutors. While the College Board offers a broad overview of what’s tested, our guide will go further, using our research to give you more specific (and more helpful) direction on what you need to study. 

One key factor in SAT Prep is your goal score, which depends on what colleges you plan to apply to. Below, we’ve compiled the median SAT score ranges for the top 500 US universities–download it for free and start planning!

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SAT Reading and Writing: what’s tested on Reading?
SAT Reading and Writing: what’s tested on Writing?
SAT Math: what’s tested?
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This post will give a broad overview of all content tested on the digital SAT, including eral sample questions! For a more granular breakdown of how each of the two sections is organized, you can check out our post here.

In the meantime, let’s dive into the kinds of questions you’ll see on SAT Reading and Writing! According to the College Board, the questions on the SAT Reading and Writing fall into four broad categories: 

  1. Information and Ideas
  2. Craft and Structure
  3. Expression of Ideas
  4. Standard English Conventions

But to tell you the truth, these categories are not the most helpful way to understand the test. (I mean, what doesn’t count as “information and ideas?) 

Instead, we recommend thinking about the SAT Reading and Writing section as being half-Reading, half-Writing, each of which with two broad question categories. 

When it comes to the Reading questions, it’s much easier to think of them as testing two key skills: 

  1. Literal comprehension
  2. Evaluating logical/scientific reasoning

For the “Writing” questions, the College Board categories are a bit more useful, and you can really think of the Writing questions as testing: 

  1. Expression of Ideas
  2. Grammar

Although Reading and Writing are combined into one section, there’s quite a clear divide between how the SAT tests each of these concepts. Understanding how the College Board has designed the format of the digital SAT’s sections is crucial for succeeding on the test, and you can read a full breakdown of the SAT Sections here

Roughly the first half of each Reading and Writing module tests the Reading skills, and the second half focuses on the two main Writing skills. 

When it comes to the Literal Comprehension questions, you’ll be presented with a series of short passages, each of which comes with one question. How long are the SAT Reading passages? Fortunately, only between 25-150 words! In other words, each reading passage is approximately one paragraph long. 

The first set of questions you see will specifically test Literal Comprehension, which means the following skills: 

  1. Fill in words in context:

  1. Summarize the main points of poems and short passages:

  1. Identify the meaning of specific lines within short passages

Then, you’ll encounter the next set of Reading passages, these ones testing your ability to analyze logical and scientific reasoning. These questions take two forms, generally: 

  1. Interpret charts and graphs
  1. Support, undermine, and complete logical arguments

Those are effectively all the question types you’ll see when it comes to SAT Reading! For a deep dive on how to recognize, approach, and answer each question type, you should check out our comprehensive SAT Reading guide here

Wondering how your SAT score stacks up against other applicants to your dream school? Check out the median SAT scores of admitted students with our free resource, PrepMaven’s DSAT Full Diagnostic .


When it comes to SAT Writing, you’ll be tested on English Grammar and Expression of Ideas. Just like with SAT Reading, these break down into several predictable question types that you can learn to anticipate! 

For our comprehensive guide to every type of grammar question on the SAT Writing, click here. In the meantime, you should know that you’ll be tested on the following specific concepts and skills: 

  1. Subject Verb Agreement 
  2. Punctuation 
  3. Pronoun Antecedent Agreement
  4. Verb tense
  5. Dangling modifiers
  6. Logical comparisons
  7. Transitions
  8. Redundancy 
  9. Sentence construction
  10. Synthesizing information from bullet-pointed notes

Although there are more question types here, most of these are specific grammatical concepts. All you really need to do is learn the concepts (which you can do with one of our top-scoring tutors) and then learn how to recognize when the SAT is testing them. 

If you carefully read through our guides on each question type and put in the work to study, there’s really no reason you should ever miss a grammar question on SAT writing. They test objective rules, and they test them in the same way just about every time. 


The new Digital SAT (for 2024 and beyond) tests exactly the same math concepts as the old SAT. The College Board offers a broad breakdown of what skills are tested and how often, and we have a more content-focused guide to the digital SAT Math here. Later in this section, we’ll dig into more specifics about question types and content: what exactly will you need to know for the Digital SAT Math?

Here is the breakdown of what concepts are tested and how often on the Digital SAT: 

CategorySkills testedQuestions per testPercentage 
AlgebraLinear equationsSystems of linear equationsLinear word problemsLinear inequalities13-15~35%
Advanced MathQuadratic expressionsNonlinear functionsEquivalent expressions13-15~35%
Problem-Solving and DataRatios and proportions PercentagesData distribution and measures of center and spreadProbability Evaluating statistical claims and experimental design5-7~15%
GeometryArea and volumeLines, angles, trianglesRight triangles, trigonometryCircles5-7~15

SAT Algebra: what’s tested?

Algebra concepts make up a major portion of the Digital SAT Math section: 35%, or over one-third, of your questions will test fundamental algebra skills. What does the College Board mean when they talk about testing “Algebra?”

Fundamentally, the Algebra questions on the Digital SAT test your knowledge of linear equations and straight lines. Basically, any math question that involves two variables in a linear relationship to one another falls into the Algebra category. 

These SAT Algebra questions can take many forms! You’ll see graphs, word problems, equations, and input/output tables, all of which test the same fundamental equation: y=mx+b. Take a look at some real sample SAT Algebra questions below:

If you’re less than 100% confident on any of these concepts (especially on y=mx+b!), we’d really recommend working with a tutor to bring your math skills up to where they need to be. 

You can think of the Algebra section as your foundation for the SAT Math: if you’re struggling with any of these concepts, you probably will not be able to answer most of the questions on the SAT Math section correctly. 

Fortunately, this is a problem that’s easy to fix–if you get a head start! Building up the foundational SAT Algebra skills takes time, and you don’t want to be rushing to cram in a whole year’s worth of algebra knowledge before your test!

Our expert SAT tutors can help you identify exactly what Algebra concepts you need to work on to prepare for the SAT, ensuring that you don’t waste time learning concepts that aren’t tested. If Algebra is where you struggle, we strongly recommend starting professional math tutoring more than 3 months before your test date. 

SAT Advanced Math: what’s tested?

If you’re looking at what’s on the Digital SAT Math, you may be confused by what counts as “Advanced Math.” It’s especially important to know exactly what College Board means by this category, since “Advanced Math” SAT questions make up 35% of your total score!

Fortunately, there’s an easier way to think of what College Board calls “Advanced Math!” This section really just covers non-linear equations. What do we mean by that? It’s actually quite straightforward. The Digital SAT “Advanced Math” questions cover the following concepts: 

  • Quadratics
  • Exponential functions
  • Equations of circles 

Here are a couple real SAT Advanced Math example questions: 

Fuzzy on any of these? You’re not the only one. Fortunately, our team of expert tutors at PrepMaven has put together a targeted guide for each of these concepts. Check out our guide to the SAT Math section here: it focuses specifically on teaching you what you need to ace the SAT Math section, as opposed to just math skills in general. 

SAT Problem-Solving and Data: what’s tested?

This category is a lot smaller than the first two but presents serious problems for many students. Many students don’t have much experience with statistics or probability, so these questions can be tricky. 

The key concepts you need to understand to succeed on this section are: 

  1. Ratios, proportions, percentages
  2. Probability
  3. Measures of center (like mean, median, mode, range, and standard deviation)
  4. Interpreting charts and graphs (like stem and leaf plots, box and whisker plots, and histograms)
  5. Experiment/survey design

Take a look at the below sample questions: do you know how to do each of them?

These concepts can be very unintuitive, and this is one of the key areas where a good tutor can make all the difference–try a session with one of our SAT Math experts and see how helpful they can be!

Wondering how your SAT Math score stacks up against other applicants’? Our free spreadsheet breaks down median SAT scores at top US schools by Math and Reading & Writing subscores so that you can better plan your test prep strategy. 

SAT Geometry: what’s tested?

This section is pretty predictable, and tests your knowledge of the properties of a few basic shapes. The most important concepts tested on the SAT Math when it comes to Geometry are: 

  1. Circles (area, circumference, arcs)
  2. Triangles (special right triangles, similar triangles, Sin, Cos, and Tan)
  3. Regular polygons (these are your squares, rectangles, parallelograms, hexagons, etc.)

Many students struggle most with these questions, often because they don’t know where to start! Take a look at the questions below: all of these are from the mock tests provided by College Board for the new digital SAT, and you can bet the real SAT you take will have similar questions.

 

 While the SAT Geometry questions only make up 15% of the test, you still need to master the content to have a shot at a high or perfect SAT Math score. And because there are relatively few Geometry questions despite there being many possible Geometry concepts, these questions can be harder to predict than the questions on other sections!


Whether you’re just starting out SAT Prep or are aiming for a retest to lock in that 1600, your path to a great score depends on you knowing not just what’s on the digital SAT, but how it’s tested. 

This guide has been intended as a breakdown of what you need to know. If you’re ready to actually start learning it, we’ve developed comprehensive strategy and content guides for SAT Reading, Grammar, and Math questions. There, you’ll find lists of all possible question types, real SAT example problems, and step-by-step guides for each type of question. 

Of course, there’s no substitute for an expert to actually guide you through real questions and push your thinking further. Our team matches every student with their tutor through a personalized, hands-on process, ensuring that your tutor will be an expert in the specific areas you need support in. 

As you start your test prep journey, be sure to keep your end goal in mind: what’s a good SAT score for your target schools? There’s no easier way to find out than by downloading the free resource below, which contains the median SAT scores for 500 top US universities!


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Mike

Mike

Mike is a PhD candidate studying English literature at Duke University. Mike is an expert test prep tutor (SAT/ACT/LSAT) and college essay consultant. Nearly all of Mike’s SAT/ACT students score in the top 5% of test takers; many even score above 1500 on the SAT. His college essay students routinely earn admission into their top-choice schools, including Harvard, Brown, and Dartmouth. And his LSAT students have been accepted In into the top law schools in the country, including Harvard, Yale, and Columbia Law.