SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

How Long Is the SAT With Breaks?

Posted by Dora Seigel | Aug 6, 2015 11:49:14 PM

SAT General Info



The SAT is a marathon. It'll take up your whole Saturday morning, but exactly how long is it? This article has the answer to that question and more!


And the Total Time for the SAT Plus Essay Test Is….

Exactly 4 hours and 7 minutes including the breaks. This includes all sections (Reading Test, Writing and Language Test, Math No Calculator Test, Math Calculator Test, and Essay), as well as the breaks. Here is the exact breakdown of time by section: 


Total Questions

Total Time (minutes)

Reading Test



Writing and Language Test



Math Test - No Calculator section



Math Test - Calculator section




1 essay






These sections always appear in the same order: Reading Test, Writing and Language Test, Math Test - No Calculator section, Math Test - Calculator section, and then, the Essay.  

There are three breaks throughout the test. There is a 10-minute break after the Reading Test and a five-minute break after the Math Test - No Calculator section. For these two breaks, you can leave the room, use the restroom, eat, etc. However, for the final break, which is after the Math Test - Calculator section, you're given just two minutes to stretch next to your desk; you can't leave the room.  

Here is the chronological timing breakdown:

  • Section 1 - Reading Test - 65 minutes
  • Break - 10 minutes
  • Section 2 - Writing and Language Test - 35 minutes 
  • Section 3 - Math Test - No Calculator section - 25 minutes
  • Break - 5 minutes
  • Section 4 - Math Test - Calculator section - 55 minutes
  • Stretch Break - 2 minutes
  • Essay - 50 Minutes


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 leave after the Math Test - Calculator section and do not take the Essay. The total time for the SAT without the Essay with breaks is 3 hours and 15 minutes.

Here is the SAT without Essay chronological timing breakdown:

  • Section 1 - Reading Test - 65 minutes
  • Break - 10 minutes
  • Section 2 - Writing and Language Test - 35 minutes
  • Section 3 - Math Test - No Calculator section - 25 minutes
  • Break - 5 minutes
  • Section 4 - Math Test - Calculator section- 55 minutes


How to Use the Breaks to Your Advantage

The breaks always come after the 1st, 3rd, and 4th sectionsUse 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 hours more of testing, so make sure to use it.



Minions are awesome. 

What’s Next?

Preparing for the SAT? You should read our free ultimate SAT study guide. Are you 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. 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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Dora Seigel
About the Author

As an SAT/ACT tutor, Dora has guided many students to test prep success. She loves watching students succeed and is committed to helping you get there. Dora received a full-tuition merit based scholarship to University of Southern California. She graduated magna cum laude and scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. She is also passionate about acting, writing, and photography.

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