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How Long Is the SAT With Extended Time?

Posted by Rebecca Safier | May 1, 2018 7:00:00 PM

SAT General Info



Students with documented disabilities may be eligible to receive extended time on one or more sections of the SAT. The options for extended time vary by student and must be approved ahead of the testing date by College Board's Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD).

If you're a student, parent, or educator interested in extra time accommodations on the SAT, read on to learn about the different options and how long each one makes the SAT. First, let's briefly review who qualifies for additional time.


Who's Eligible for Extended Time on the SAT?

In order to qualify for extended time on the SAT, students must have a documented disability that constitutes a "relevant functional limitation." In other words, their disability impacts their ability to take the SAT, and extended time may help them improve their performance. These disabilities include visual, physical, medical, and motor impairments and learning disorders. 

Generally, eligible students will have an established Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan with their school. However, having a plan or accommodations for extra time at school doesn't necessarily guarantee them extra time on the SAT. A qualified school coordinator must make an official request to College Board and provide all the necessary documentation. Since approval takes about seven weeks, she should start this process early.

When making the request, the coordinator will indicate whether the student needs extended time for reading, mathematical calculation, written expression, or listening/speaking (for SAT Subject Tests). If the coordinator specifies extended time on reading, then the student will typically get extended time on all SAT sections, as they all require reading of some form. 

Apart from differences in time per section, what other options does College Board offer for extended time on the SAT?


What Are the Options for Extended Time on the SAT?

There are three options for extended time on the SAT: time and a half, double time, and 150% additional time. The amount of time students get varies depending on whether they take the SAT without the optional essay or the SAT with the essay section. Below, you can see the amount of time students get with each extended time option.


Time and a Half

The most common option for extended time on the SAT lengthens it by 50%. Time and a half makes the SAT without the optional essay a total of 4 hours and 30 minutes and the SAT with the essay a total of 5 hours and 45 minutes. Students with time and a half take the SAT at the usual time and place, on a Saturday morning at their testing center of choice.


Double Time

The second option is double time, or 100% additional time, for a total of 6 hours on the SAT without essay or 7 hours and 40 minutes for the SAT with essay. Students with double time typically take the SAT over the course of two days at their school. 


150% Additional Time

Finally, in rare cases students may be granted 150% additional time and get 7 hours and 30 minutes on the SAT without essay and 9 hours and 35 minutes on the SAT with essay. Like students with double time, students with 150% additional time typically take the SAT over the course of two days at their school, rather than take it at the official testing center. They would sit with a school coordinator, generally one on one, unless there were another student or two with similar accommodations. 


While the above mentioned times technically describe the length of the test, the actual experience is longer due to breaks and time for instructions. Considering these factors, how long will the SAT with accommodations actually take?



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How Long Is the SAT With Extended Time?

The times above describe how much time a student has to complete the Reading, Writing, and Math sections, but they don't include breaks, instructions, or other logistics of the test-taking experience, like passing out and collecting the test booklets. Students with extended time must stay for the entire designated time, even if they finish early. They also can't flip between sections or self-pace, but instead must stay on each individual section until time has been called. 

Without accommodations, the SAT is 3 hours with the essay or 3 hours and 50 minutes with the essay. Without the essay, students get two breaks totaling about 10 minutes. With the essay, students get three breaks for a total break time of about 15 minutes. 

Extended time doesn't include extended or extra breaks unless a specific request has been made and approved. For most students with extended time, therefore, you can just add 10 or 15 minutes of break time and 30 to 60 minutes for administrative tasks to get a sense of how long the SAT will be. 

In the charts below for the SAT without essay and SAT with essay, I added 30 minutes for check in, instruction, filling out personal information on the tests, and finishing up. In a testing room with a lot of students, it may take a bit longer. For students testing individually or in small groups, check in may take a little less time. Here are my estimates for each extended time option to answer the question, how long is the SAT with breaks?


SAT Without Essay 

Extended time option

Total testing time

With breaks

Total time

No extended time

3 hours

3 hours, 10 minutes

~3 hours, 40 minutes

50% additional time

4 hours, 30 minutes

4 hours, 40 minutes

~5 hours, 10 minutes

100% additional time

6 hours

6 hours, 10 minutes

~6 hours, 40 minutes

150% additional time

7 hours, 30 minutes

7 hours, 40 minutes

~8 hours, 10 minutes



SAT With Essay

Extended time option

Total testing time

With breaks

Total time

No extended time

3 hours, 50 min

4 hours, 5 minutes

~4 hours, 35 minutes

50% additional time

5 hours, 45 minutes

6 hours

~6 hours, 30 minutes

100% additional time

7 hours, 40 minutes

7 hours, 55 minutes

~8 hours, 25 minutes

150% additional time

9 hours, 35 minutes

9 hours, 50 minutes

~10 hours, 20 minutes


Taking the SAT takes a lot of time, energy, and focus. Students definitely don't want to add to their stress by showing up late, and when finished they're probably eager to head home. So what's a safe time for pick up and drop off for students taking the SAT with extended time?




Safe Times for Drop Off and Pick Up 

As mentioned above, students with 50% additional time will take the SAT on Saturday morning at their preferred testing center. They should plan to arrive by 7:45. The SAT is administered between 8:30 and 9:00. Students with time and a half will be finished and ready to be picked up around 1:40 PM or 3:00 PM, depending on whether or not they're taking the essay section.

Students with more time will take the test over the course of two days at their school under the supervision of a designated administrator. Their timing will vary. Usually students who start at 8:30 AM test until around noon and then resume the next day. 

These accommodations are meant to improve the test-taking experience for students and meet their needs. Since the SAT is time intensive, students, parents, and coordinators should make sure to know the ins and outs of the process and options for extended time. Below are the key points to remember.




Key Points 

  • It takes about seven weeks for College Board to approve SAT accommodations, so gather your documentation and make your requests early.

  • The most common option for extended time is 50% additional time, though some students will get more or only qualify for extra time on certain sections.

  • Students decide whether or not to take the essay section when they register.

  • Students with time and a half will spend from around 7:45 AM to 1:40 or 3:00 PM at their testing center (depending on if they take the essay or not).

  • Extended time does not automatically include extended or extra breaks, so you need to make these requests separately.

  • Students must stay for their entire designated testing time, so even if they finish early, the above schedule will still apply.

Extended time can be a huge help for students with functional limitations, like reading comprehension or attention issues. Make your requests specific and supported by in-depth documentation, and leave extra time in case you need to appeal College Board's decision. Since the SAT is such an important test, you want to make sure you or your student is getting the accommodations she needs to see her best results.


What's Next? 

Apart from extended time, what other accommodations are available to students taking the SAT? Read our full guide on SAT accommodations and how to get them here.

Now that you know how long the entire SAT will take, what about each individual section? Answer any questions you have about exactly how long the SAT is here.

Want to score a super high SAT score? Get all the tips and expert advice you need in our guide to getting a perfect SAT score.


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Rebecca Safier
About the Author

Rebecca graduated with her Master's in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.

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