What is the 5th Section that Shows Up at the End of Some SATs?

How many sections are on the SAT?

As everyone knows, there are four sections on the SAT–except when there are five! The so-called “experimental” section shows up occasionally, after the Math-Calculator section, but it’s nothing to worry about. The test makers are simply trying out new questions. That’s how they know if a question is “easy” or “hard”–they see how many people struggle with it on the experimental section, which may be Reading, Writing & Language, or Math.

Does the 5th section count?
It will be a short section, and the questions will not count toward your official score–probably! The College Board doesn’t really say. They likely want to keep their options open. It may turn out that a question on one of the four main sections is unscorable for some reason (it’s happened before), and the test-makers might replace it with a question from the experimental section. Anything’s possible!
What should students do if they get a 5th section?
Don’t just fill in random bubbles because you think the experimental section doesn’t count–that strategy could come back to haunt you. If you get an experimental section, it shouldn’t be more than thirty minutes, and since there’s no essay anymore (yay!), it won’t kill you to stick around a little longer. (And if you just get up and leave during the experimental section, your scores will be canceled, so don’t do that.)
If you have further questions about the experimental section or anything else, give us a call at 512-453-7272 or email [email protected].