Evidence-Based Reading Test

The New SAT Reading Test lasts 65 minutes and is comprised of 4 individual passages and 1 pair of passages. This pair will be made up of two shorter, related passages by different authors that address a similar topic or theme. Each passage or pair will be between 500 and 750 words, for a total of 3250 words overall.

Each passage will have 10 or 11 questions, for a total of 52 questions for the entire section. In every SAT Reading Test there will be 2 passages which are accompanied by graphics, and 1 or 2 graphics for each of those two passages. You will be asked a couple of questions about these graphics and how they relate to the passage. The New SAT does not feature any sentence-completion questions previously used in the SAT.


The passages you will encounter may include informative passages, persuasive passages, and narrative passages. The passages will contain all of the information needed to answer the questions on the test; you will never need to rely on any of your own prior knowledge about the material.

All passages in the SAT Reading Test will come from previously published sources, and may represent a variety of tones and styles. The chart below shows the specific breakdown of passage types that you will see in each Reading Test.

Passage TypeTopics Number of Passages
LiteratureClassic and contemporary literature from the United States and around the world 1
History and Social StudiesBoth basic concepts and recent development in the social sciences and humanities, including anthropology, communication studies, economics, education, human geography, law, linguistics, political science, psychology, and sociology 1
Founding Document or Great Global ConversationHistorically important, foundational texts from the United States (Founding Documents, ie Bill of Rights), other historically and culturally important works dealing with issues at the heart of civic and political life (Great Global Conversation) 1
ScienceBoth basic concepts and recent developments in the natural sciences, including Earth science, biology, chemistry, and physics 2



The questions associated with the passages will assess whether or not you understand information and ideas in the text, and are able to analyze the author’s use of persuasive language and argument. You will also be tested on combining information from related pairs of passages, as well as from passages and their graphs.

The questions will be presented in a consistent order. However, they are not presented in order of difficulty. You will first be asked more general questions about central ideas, themes, point of view, and the overall text structure. This will be followed by more specific questions that may ask you for the meaning of a particular word or phrase, or to find the specific evidence that supports a claim. Many of these questions will have line references, which will point you to the material being discussed in the question.

You’ll be asked a variety of questions for each passage, but the question types themselves will be repeated often. For example, you may be asked about the text structure of more than one passage on your test. There are also two question types that will appear with every passage. You will always be asked two Words in Context (PDF) questions, and two Evidence (PDF) questions for each passage or pair of passages.