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On the day the SAT test is administered, more than one version of the test is actually given. Different essay questions are used, the order of the sections varies, and different "equating" sections (sometimes called "experimental sections") are used. Each of these versions is called a "form". At any particular testing site, typically two forms are used, sometimes three, so that students sitting side by side cannot easily copy answers.

Each form always begins with the essay, which concerns a different topic on each form. Each form always ends with the short (ten-minute) writing section, since no other section is ten minutes long (when multiple forms are used at the same location, different sections must be matched in length of time). Some forms will have 9 sections, others will have 10 sections, but these two variations of the test (they have differently colored covers) are not given at the same test site on the same day. The 9-section forms do not have an equating section, i.e., all sections on these versions are counted toward the test score.

Shown below is the time breakdown of a 10-section SAT administration. Total elapsed time with breaks is about 4 hours. One of sections 2 through 7 is an equating section.

  • Section 1. 25 minute section: Essay
  • Section 2. 25 minute section: Math, Reading, or Writing
  • 5-minute break
  • Section 3. 25 minute section: Math, Reading, or Writing
  • Section 4. 25 minute section: Math, Reading, or Writing
  • 5-minute break
  • Section 5. 25 minute section: Math, Reading, or Writing
  • Section 6. 25 minute section: Math, Reading, or Writing
  • 5-minute break
  • Section 7. 25 minute section: Math, Reading, or Writing
  • Section 8. 20 minute section: Math or Reading
  • Section 9. 20 minute section: Math or Reading
  • Section 10. 10 minute section: Writing

Shown below is the time breakdown of a 9-section SAT administration. Total elapsed time with breaks is about 3 hours and 35 minutes. All sections count toward the score.

  • Section 1. 25 minute section: Essay
  • Section 2. 25 minute section: Math, Reading, or Writing
  • 5-minute break
  • Section 3. 25 minute section: Math, Reading, or Writing
  • Section 4. 25 minute section: Math, Reading, or Writing
  • 5-minute break
  • Section 5. 25 minute section: Math, Reading, or Writing
  • Section 6. 25 minute section: Math, Reading, or Writing
  • 5-minute break
  • Section 7. 20 minute section: Math or Reading
  • Section 8. 20 minute section: Math or Reading
  • Section 9. 10 minute section: Writing

Below are examples of the actual forms given on two SAT test dates. This material was once made available on the College Board web site after each test but was removed in late 2009 when the web site was redesigned.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The black-and-white cover version (ten sections) had two different section orders:

  • Essay (25 minutes)
  • Mathematics (25 minutes, with grid-ins)
  • Writing (25 minutes)
  • Reading (25 minutes, with 2 long passages)
  • Mathematics
  • Reading
  • Equating / Experimental
  • Mathematics
  • Reading
  • Writing (10 minutes)

OR:

  • Essay (25 minutes)
  • Writing (25 minutes)
  • Reading (25 minutes, with 2 long passages)
  • Mathematics (25 minutes, with grid-ins)
  • Reading
  • Equating / Experimental
  • Mathematics
  • Reading
  • Mathematics
  • Writing (10 minutes)

The pink cover version (nine sections) had two different section orders:

  • Essay (25 minutes)
  • Mathematics (25 minutes, with grid-ins)
  • Writing (25 minutes)
  • Reading (25 minutes, with 2 long passages)
  • Mathematics
  • Reading
  • Mathematics
  • Reading
  • Writing (10 minutes)

OR:

  • Essay (25 minutes)
  • Writing (25 minutes)
  • Reading (25 minutes, with 2 long passages)
  • Mathematics (25 minutes, with grid-ins)
  • Reading
  • Mathematics
  • Reading
  • Mathematics
  • Writing (10 minutes)

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The black-and-white cover version (ten sections) had three different section orders:

  • Essay (25 minutes)
  • Reading (25 minutes, with 2 long passages)
  • Writing (25 minutes)
  • Math (25 minutes, with grid-ins)
  • Reading
  • Equating / Experimental
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Math
  • Writing (10 minutes)

OR:

  • Essay (25 minutes)
  • Reading
  • Math
  • Writing (25 minutes)
  • Equating / Experimental
  • Reading (25 minutes, with 2 long passages)
  • Math (25 minutes, with grid-ins)
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Writing (10 minutes)

OR:

  • Essay (25 minutes)
  • Writing (25 minutes)
  • Reading
  • Math
  • Equating / Experimental
  • Reading (25 minutes, with 2 long passages)
  • Math (25 minutes, with grid-ins)
  • Reading
  • Math
  • Writing (10 minutes)

The pink cover version (nine sections) had two different section orders:

  • Essay (25 minutes)
  • Reading (25 minutes, with 2 long passages)
  • Writing (25 minutes)
  • Math (25 minutes, with grid-ins)
  • Reading
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Math
  • Writing (10 minutes)

OR:

  • Essay (25 minutes)
  • Reading
  • Math
  • Writing (25 minutes)
  • Reading (25 minutes, with 2 long passages)
  • Math (25 minutes, with grid-ins)
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Writing (10 minutes)