How Long is the SAT?

How long is the SAT?


The new SAT is three hours long plus 50 minutes for the optional essay, which some colleges require. You’ll also be allowed one 10-minute and one five-minute break. But you will probably be spending more time at the test center than you would think. The doors open at 7:45 a.m. and close at 8, and you’re going to want to get there a little bit early so you can feel more at ease.


The actual testing will start between 8:30 and 9. Before you begin, your test supervisor will read the instructions and students will be allowed to ask questions. You’ll also need to fill in all of your personal information, and wait for all of the other students to fill in their information. This process can definitely feel tedious, especially when you’re nervous to begin the test.


All in all, you could potentially be at the test center from 7:45 a.m. to around 1 p.m. That’s just a few hours away from a full school day. The process of taking the SAT is no joke, so make sure to physically and mentally prepare yourself.


Read on to learn how to spend the 24 hours before the SAT, as well as the best ways to spend your breaks during the SAT.


How to spend the day before the SAT


Don’t try to cram a ton of studying in the day before, but do review some grammar rules and math formulas. Hopefully your short-term memory will kick in while you’re taking the test.


Make sure your schedule is pretty relaxed the day before the test. You don’t want to be stressed out before test day even begins. Eat healthy meals, get some exercise, and go to sleep as early as possible.


Wake up early on test morning, so you don’t feel too rushed. Eat a balanced breakfast that will keep you going throughout the long day ahead. Lastly, try not to talk to other people you know who are taking the test. They will likely be frenzied and stressed out. You don’t want any of that bad energy transferred onto yourself.


How to spend your breaks during the SAT


After the test has started and you’ve completed a few sections, you’ll be given a break. How should you spend it?


  1. Eat something to reinvigorate yourself. The SAT is nearly four hours long if you’re taking the essay. You’ll likely get hungry at some point. Plus, eating will give you energy and allow you to focus better.


  1. Use the bathroom, even if you think you don’t need to. It sucks if you’re in the middle of a timed section and find you need a bathroom break really badly. It’s distracting and may affect your performance on the test.


Moral of the story


The SAT is long, but it doesn’t have to be too painful if you prepare properly. If you’re physically ready, then you’ll have the energy to stay motivated throughout the entire test. So take care of yourself!



  • Nadira Berman

    As a Summer Marketing Intern, Nadira is excited to help high schoolers prepare for the SAT and ACT. As a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, she is considering studying economics. In her free time, she reports for the school newspaper and styles photo shoots for the school's fashion magazine. Besides fashion and journalism, her passions include bagels, smoothies and Netflix.

By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!


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