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Sat Essay Time Breakdown

The SAT is a marathon that takes up your whole Saturday morning. But exactly how long is it? How long is the SAT with breaks? How long is it with the Essay section? Without it?

This article gives the answers to these questions and also offers a few key tips on how to use SAT breaks to your advantage on test day.


What Is the Total Time for the SAT Plus Essay Test?

Including breaks, the SAT is exactly four hours and seven minutes long. This time includes all sections (Reading Test, Writing and Language Test, Math No Calculator Test, Math Calculator Test, and optional Essay) as well as all breaks.

Here is the exact breakdown of time by section:

SectionOrder on Test  Total # of Questions  Total Time (Minutes)
Break 1210
Writing and Language34435
Math No Calculator42025
Break 255
Math Calculator63855
Break 372
Essay (Optional)8150


There are three breaks throughout the test. There is a 10-minute break after the Reading section and a five-minute break after the Math No Calculator section. For these two breaks, you can leave the room, use the restroom, eat a snack, etc.

However, for the final break, which is after the Math Calculator section, you're given just two minutes to stretch next to your desk; you may not leave the room at this time.


Use a watch to keep track of your time!


What If You're Taking the SAT Without the Essay?

If you're taking the SAT without the Essay, the order and timing of the test are the same, except you'll leave right after the Math Calculator section and will not stay for the Essay. The total time for the SAT without the Essay (with breaks) is three hours and 15 minutes.

Here is the SAT without Essay chronological timing breakdown:

SectionOrder on Test  Total # of Questions  Total Time (Minutes)
Break 1210
Writing and Language34435
Math No Calculator42025
Break 255
Math Calculator63855


How to Use SAT Breaks to Your Advantage

The breaks always come after the 1st, 3rd, and 4th sections, so use them to recharge. Move, stretch, use the restroom, drink water, and eat energy-packed foods. Bananas are great! If you need help picking a snack, we've got a list of 11 excellent ones. It can be hard on your body to sit for so long, so definitely use the breaks to move around.

Also, remember that the breaks get shorter as the test continues. The second break is your last chance to use the bathroom or grab a snack before almost two more hours of testing, so be sure to use it!


Minions are awesome. 


What’s Next?

Preparing for the SAT? You should read our free ultimate SAT study guide. And if you're taking the test soon, learn how to cram for the SAT. 

Not sure where you'd like to go to college? Learn how to do college research right, and get help finding your SAT target score. 

Hoping to be accepted to a top school? Check out our guides to getting into Harvard and Stanford. 


Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We've written a guide about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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