SAT Physics is a one-hour multiple-choice test on physics. The purpose of the SAT Physics subject test is to evaluate a candidate’s grasp and understanding of the subject. The test also evaluates the candidate’s aptitude for using these concepts to solve a range of problems. SAT physics tests have 3 distinct types of questions: recall questions, single-concept questions, and multiple-concept questions. The SAT subject test has a score range of 200-800.

SAT Subject Test Physics Pattern

The SAT subject test physics has the following exam pattern for the SAT Physics test:

  • The SAT Physics exam is an hour, consisting of 75 multiple-choice questions.
  • There are five options for each question. It is important to note that the questions have different forms.
  • There are stand-alone SAT physics questions as well as questions that are a part of a larger group.
  • The time available to the examinee is quite constrained. It shouldn’t take more than a minute or a few seconds to answer each SAT physics question.
  • There aren’t many difficult questions on this test because cracking the SAT physics subject test does not have much time allotted for it. The method of solving challenging calculative issues does not need to take a lot of time.

SAT Physics Syllabus

SAT physics subject test exam mainly assesses the first-year of university fundamental Physics knowledge. Along with logical and problem-solving aptitude and lab sessions for physics. SAT physics subject test pattern and syllabus include:

  • Mechanics
  • Electricity and magnetism
  • Waves and optics
  • Heat and thermodynamics
  • Modern physics
  • Miscellaneous Questions

SAT Physics Subject Test: Topics and Sub-topics

SAT subject physics topics include:

Areas Sub-Areas
Mechanics(36-42%) Kinematics – Velocity, acceleration, motion in one dimension, and motion of projectiles.
Dynamics – force, Newton’s laws, statics, and friction
Energy and momentum, potential and kinetic energy, work, power, impulse, and conservation laws
Circular motion, uniform circular motion, and centripetal force
Simple harmonic motion, mass on a spring, and the pendulum
Gravity – law of gravitation, orbits, and Kepler’s laws
Electricity and Magnetism(18-24%) Electric fields, forces, and potentials, Coulomb’s law, induced charge, field and potential of groups of point charges, and charged particles in electric fields
Capacitance, parallel-plate capacitors, and time-varying behavior in charging/ discharging
Circuit elements and DC circuits, resistors, light bulbs, series and parallel networks, Ohm’s law, and Joule’s law
Magnetism, permanent magnets, fields caused by currents, particles in magnetic fields, Faraday’s law, and Lenz’s law
Waves and Optics(15-19%) General wave properties – wave speed, frequency, wavelength, superposition, standing wave diffraction, and Doppler effect
Reflection and refraction, Snell’s law and changes in wavelength and speed
Ray optics, image formation using pinholes, mirrors, and lenses
Physical optics, single-slit diffraction, double-slit interference, polarization, and color
Heat and Thermodynamics(6-11%) Thermal properties, temperature, heat transfer, specific and latent heats, and thermal expansions
Laws of thermodynamics – first and second laws, internal energy, entropy, and heat engine efficiency
Modern Physics(6-11%) Quantum phenomena, photons, and photoelectric effect
Atomic, Rutherford, and Bohr models, atomic energy levels, and atomic spectra
Nuclear and particle physics, radioactivity, nuclear reactions, and fundamental particles
Relativity, time dilation, length contraction, and mass-energy equivalence
Miscellaneous(4-9%) History of physics and general questions that overlap several major topics
Analytical skills – graphical analysis, measurement, and math skills
Contemporary physics – astrophysics, superconductivity, and chaos theory

SAT Physics Question Types

SAT physics paper shows 3 types of questions:

  • Recall questions (fundamental knowledge is required for this and 12-20% of SAT physics questions are of this type)



  • Single concept questions (compact subjective knowledge is required for this and 48-64% of SAT physics questions are of this type)



  • Multiple concept questions (ability to connect ideas of different concepts of physics is required for this and 12-20% if SAT physics questions are of this type)


Candidates can get the idea of each question type by going through the SAT exam physics online practice test.

Important Point to Remember

Cracking the SAT physics subject test will be easier if the below few points are kept in mind:

  1. SAT Physics subject test is conducted in the month of August, October, November, December, May and June.
  2. Calculator is not allowed in SAT 2 Physics, no matter how hard the question is.
  3. Problem solving needs to be in simple numerical calculations
  4. Measurements will be expressed in the metric system.

SAT Physics Preparation Tips

SAT physics subject test helps those candidates to stand out who are aspiring to pursue a science or math-related program. Here are some SAT preparation tips to follow to score better in SAT Physics:

  • Preparation from authentic study materials to remember the knowledge they have learned. Students must also revisit concepts and solve problems as often as they can.
  • Students may be able to enhance their test pace and time management by timing themselves while taking practice exams.
  • Students must mark their erroneous answers from the practice test and analyze what went wrong. Did they not grasp the concept, did they misread the question, or did they make a careless mistake?
  • To answer many physics problems, formulas are needed. To tackle SAT physics problems, students will need to be familiar with the formulae that describe physical connections.
  • Every wrong attempt gives students ¼ negative points. To avoid such problems, candidates must use the elimination process to get the answer.
  • Avoid spending too much time on one question, and skip if the question is confusing.

SAT Physics Practice Papers

SAT Physics practice papers guide the candidates in learning the concepts, problem-solving, and reasoning skills. During preparation, the candidate must study from the answer keys provided in the SAT physics practice papers. They will be able to know the mistakes behind their incorrect answers.

Candidates must be able to work with equations, interpret a graph, understand the metric system to perform well on the SAT Physics test. There are some physics subject test practice topics like trigonometric identities, calculus, three-dimensional vectors and graphs, and physical constants. Take SAT Physics practice exams and study the SAT Physics test questions for better preparation and SAT scores.

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