How Long Is the SAT?

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: November 28, 2022  •  5 min read  •  College
Approved Course is reader-supported. If you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small commission.

Are you planning to take the SAT soon, and you’re curious how long it is? The SAT is a very important test if you want to go to college. You will likely take it as a Junior or Senior in high school.

Before you sign up to take the SAT, you should know what to expect. Let’s answer the question, how long is the SAT, along with a few more common SAT questions.

How Long Is the SAT?

The SAT will be taken in three different sections with four different tests. There is an optional fourth section, as well, which is the SAT Essay section. The entire SAT must be completed in three hours, not counting the SAT Essay section or breaks.

The different sections have their own time limits, which include:

This is the breakdown of how long the SAT is, but you can complete each section faster if you prefer.

What Breaks Are Given During the SAT?

While the entire test will cover three hours, there are a few breaks to factor into the time. You will get the following breaks when you take the SAT:

Including breaks, the SAT will take either 195 minutes or 232 minutes if you take the SAT Essay section.

When Will the SAT Start?

When you sign up to take the SAT, you will notice that the test center doors will open 15 minutes before the test begins. The test will start at 8:30 am, and the doors will open at 7:45 am. It’s best to get to the testing center early to ensure you don’t get locked out as the doors will close at 8am.

After everybody is in the testing room, the proctor for the exam will collect electronic devices and backpacks. They will also check to ensure you have an approved calculator for the SAT.

While the doors close at 8 am, the test usually won’t start until a bit later. It will likely begin between 8:30 am and 9 am. Often, you will have extra time to add the SAT Essay to your test if you want. There will also be test materials to distribute and instructions the proctor will give.

Once all instructions are covered, the test will begin. The proctor will set the time for the test and tell you when to state.

What Other Factors Should Be Considered with How Long the SAT Will Be?

You will need to consider a few other things on test day. The travel time you will need to get to the testing center and get home should be considered. This will take up some of the time on the day of the SAT. Plus, you will also need to know how long it will take, so you can arrive on time.

If you have any special accommodations, you will also need to consider the time that you might get. Approved accommodations may give you more breaks or extra time on each section of the test. Make sure to consider this time factor if you have special accommodations.

When Does the SAT End?

Each testing center is a bit different in the way they end the SAT. The main sections will take three hours and you will have a total of 15 minutes of breaks. Factoring in time for instructions and setting everything up, you can expect to be done between 12:15 pm and 12:45 pm with the main sections.

The optional SAT Essay section adds another 50 minutes to the day. There is also a 20-minute extra section to help test SAT questions for the future. Students choosing to take the SAT with the Essay section can expect to leave the testing center between 1 pm and 1:30 pm.

Best Ways to Prepare for the Long & Intense SAT

The SAT will take a good portion of your day. It’s an intense and very important test. With the right preparation, you can be ready for this marathon test.

Get a Good SAT Prep Course

One of the best ways to prepare is with a good SAT prep course. There are several excellent options that you can get. Some will allow you to work at your own pace, while others will include a Livestream option or even a classroom option.

Complete Full-Length Practice SATs

While a good SAT prep course is a good option, you want to make sure you get full-length practice exams. Many SAT prep books include practice tests that give you the real feel of the official SAT test. These tests or quizzes can help, but you need to take full-length tests to get a sense of what to expect.

In fact, if you have the time to mimic the SAT as close as possible, you should. Doing this a few times can help you be prepared for how long the SAT is on test day.

Do your Practice Tests on Weekends

You will take the SAT on a Saturday, so get prepared for this. Wake up at the same time as the test and mimic the SAT by taking your practice test on a Saturday. This is a great way to make sure you’re prepared.

If you want to make sure you’re ready for how long the SAT is, use these tips. A good SAT prep course can help you go into test day well-prepared.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.