What is the SAT Eligibility Criteria 2024?

Updated on: Feb 13, 2024

Before registering, students can check they meet the SAT exam eligibility requirements. Although the test has few pre-registration criteria, students must meet some requirements during the registration process. 

Generally, students take the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) before applying to undergraduate courses at college or university. Many countries and institutions worldwide accept SAT results as part of a course application. The exam is organised by the College Board organisation. 

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To help you understand the exact eligibility criteria for the SAT exam, we provide a checklist of requirements below. In addition, we provide further information about what the test syllabus is and how to get prepared for the test. 

A Guide to the SAT Exam Eligibility 

Currently, the College Board has very few entry requirements for the SAT exam regarding age or previous education. The College Board also has little guidance for the exact entrance requirements. 

However, students do have to meet some criteria relating to appropriate documents and availability. To help you get organised and ready for your SAT exam, we outline all the eligibility criteria here. 

Previous Education

No previous education is required to take the SAT exam. The College Board does not say if students need any previous educational qualifications. Furthermore, students do not need to provide these details during registration.

However, the test syllabus covers content aimed at students who want to complete an undergraduate degree.

Age Requirements

The SAT has no age restrictions and students of any age can take the test. However, as the test is often part of college and university applications, many students of high-school age, between 16 and 19 usually take the exam. 

If you are unsure about whether to register for the SAT exam, you can check with your preferred institution. 

Location & Availability

One of the SAT exam eligibility requirements is that students are available to take the test on an appropriate date. Also, you must be able to take the test at a local test centre or online. Be aware that students have fewer dates to take the online exam.

However, additional fees can apply for various reasons relating to location and availability, These include

  • Change of test centre location.
  • Cancelling registration after the cut-off date.
  • A test centre fee (not all test centres charge a fee, but some locations do.)

Registration Documents

Having a valid and clear photo identification document is another strict eligibility criteria

During registration, students upload a clear and recognisable photo. This is then checked against a physical photo ID on test day. If the photo does not meet certain criteria, or if it is not clear enough, you might not be able to take the test.

When providing your photo ID during registration, ensure it meets the following conditions:

  • It shows you only and nobody else.
  • You are easy to identify.
  • It has your shoulders, head, hair and eyes clearly shown.
  • It is light and clear with no shadows or dark patches.
  • You are clearly in focus and the image is not blurry.
  • The photo is in full colour and not black and white.
  • No filters or additional backgrounds are visible.

You can upload images from your phone, or digital camera or scan a physical image. Alternatively, you can add an image from social media, as long as it meets the requirements above. 

What is the SAT exam structure?

The SAT exam has three parts: reading, writing and language and maths. The questions are a mix of multiple choice answers and written tasks. Each section has a time limit and the exam is three hours in total. 

Test SectionNumber of QuestionsTask TypeTime Limit
Reading52Multiple choice only65 minutes
Writing and Language35Multiple choice only35 minutes
Maths80Multiple choice and written answers 80 minutes

Below, we provide an overview of each SAT section and its content. 


Firstly, the reading test section gives students five different passages to read. Once you have read each passage, you then answer multiple choice questions 

Each passage is around 500-750 words and the subjects vary from each one. Two of the texts are from a piece of fiction, one is on social science, one is on a topic of global interest and the last is about science.

Overall, you answer three question types based on the provided text. These include:

  • Finding a part in the passage that shows how the author uses evidence to make an argument.
  • Identifying how words are used in context and how the author uses tone..
  • Analysing arguments and data in a non-fiction text, such as history, science and social studies.

When preparing for the reading section, learning subject vocabulary can be useful. While you do not need to know expert words and terms, it is important to have some understanding of vocabulary related to the reading section’s subjects. 

Writing and Language

Second, students read four separate passages in the writing and language part. Then, you answer multiple choice questions about how to change mistakes and how to identify weaknesses in the passage. 

Each passage is around 400-450 words. Also, each text varies in difficulty. Various topics are covered in the texts provided and these can include, careers, science, the humanities, and history and social studies.

Once you have read each passage, you answer 11 multiple choice questions that cover the two following question types.

  • Improving the expression of ideas. Here, you find ways to improve the quality of content in the passage. This is through identifying weaknesses in evidence provided, organisation or how language is used.
  • Use of correct English. These questions focus more on grammar and punctuation. Here, you will correct any noticeable errors in subject-verb agreement, sentence structure, or incorrect use of punctuation. 


Lastly, you will answer maths questions on three different subject areas. These are considered to be the most important maths areas for students when studying at the undergraduate level.

  • Heart of algebra. Answering questions about linear equations and maths systems.
  • Problem-solving and data analysis. Responding to given maths problems and answering questions on statistics and data.
  • Advanced maths. Answering questions on complex equations and sums. 
  • Additional topics. Here, questions on further maths topics, such as geometry and trigonometry are covered.

Also, the maths section has a calculator and a non-calculator section. Questions are mostly multiple choice too. However, some questions ask you for written answers about the mathematical formula. These are also called ‘grid in’ questions and they appear at the end of the exam. 

SAT exam Preparation

Once you have checked your SAT exam eligibility, you can register with the College Board and book your test slot. Once this is confirmed, you can start preparing for the SAT exam.

Students have many options to choose from when preparing for the SAT exam. The College Board has many past papers, study guides, tips and advice on its website and you can find plenty of support here.

In addition, getting all your documents and understanding what happens on test day will help you to be fully prepared. 

Past Paper Practice

Currently, students can access a range of SAT past papers from the College Board website. Also, the practice papers come with a scoring guide so you can check your overall result once finished.

Students can choose to take the practice test papers under timed conditions to recreate an exam environment. Alternatively, you can use the papers to check out some of the possible question types that can come up on the exam. 

Study Guides

Furthermore, the College Board has downloadable documents that give students all the important information about the SAT exam. 

The two SAT study guides give you all the necessary details about the test sections. But the documents also contain helpful tips and advice about how best to prepare for your SAT exam. 

The test guides detail how you should answer test questions. Also, these guides have useful examples and diagrams about the best ways to answer questions on exam day.

Preparation for test day

Preparation before test day is important and students must bring some documentation and other resources to help the exam go smoothly.

Below, we have a SAT exam day checklist. You can use this to double-check that you have everything you need before going to a test centre.

  1. Photo ID document. This can be a government-issued driver’s licence. Passport or military ID card, an official school student ID card or a SAT student ID form.
  2. Your printed admissions ticket.
  3. Two no.2 pencils, an eraser and an approved calculator. 

In addition, you can bring the following items: a watch, spare batteries for your calculator, a bag or backpack and food or snacks. 

Some items are strictly not allowed during the SAT exam. Be aware that your test and scores can be cancelled if you have prohibited items during the exam. These include mobile phones, laptops, tablets, cameras, pens, highlighters, books, earplugs and maths measuring equipment. 

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Does the SAT have an age limit?

No, students of any age can take the SAT exam if they wish. However, you should check if your exam needs a SAT score as part of your undergraduate course application. 

What is on the SAT exam syllabus?

The SAT syllabus tests students in reading, writing and language and maths. The exam is structured into multiple choice and written answers. 

What are the SAT exam fees?

Exam fees in the US are $60.But, fees in other regions and continents vary from $43-$53.

What is the SAT exam used for?

Generally, students take the SAT exam as part of an undergraduate course application. The test scores show your readiness for higher education. However, colleagues and universities use the score alongside other information and data as part of your application.