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SAT Critical Reading - An overview of the SAT Critical Reading sections

The SAT includes one 65-minute Reading section. In total, there are 52 questions in the section. All questions are multiple choice and based on passages. In some cases, passages will be paired with others, and informational graphics such as graphs, tables, and charts may accompany some passages. No math is ever required. The focus is on reading and interpreting the passages, and using the information gathered to answer questions. Below, a table that highlights topics always included on the reading test:

SAT Reading Passage Content Breakdown

Subject Passage Content

US & World Literature

1 passage; focus on contemporary work of US or World Literature

History/Social Studies

2 passages, or 1 passage and 1 pair; focus on a U.S. Founding document or work inspired by those documents.

Social Science

1 Selection; focus on economics, psychology, sociology or another social science.


2 passages, or 1 passage and 1 pair; focus on concepts in Earth Science, biology, chemistry, or physics.

To access sample Sentence Completion questions, visit the College Board website.

Related Topics

  • For more general information about the SAT Test, visit our SAT Test page.
  • For information about the SAT Math sections, visit our SAT Math page.
  • For information about how the SAT is scored, visit our SAT Scoring page.
  • For information about upcoming SAT test dates, visit our SAT Test Dates page.


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