What’s a good SAT score? If you’re trying to figure out your SAT score goal for 2020 admissions, you’ll want to look at the SAT averages for the schools you’ll apply to. There are great resources like the College Board where you can search for averages at a wide variety of colleges.
The SAT is based on a 1600-point scale, with 2 sections—Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing—scored between 200 and 800. There is also an optional essay, which is evaluated separately. There is no penalty for wrong answers, so your raw score is the sum of the number of questions you answer correctly. Raw scores are converted to scaled scores, which are used to determine percentile ranks. The percentile indicates how well you did compared to other test takers. For example, if you score in the 72nd percentile, you did better than 72% of test takers.
What does this mean for you? Here’s what you need to know about your SAT score:
How is the SAT scored?
Your SAT answer sheet is scanned, and your raw score is calculated by the College Board’s system. Because there’s no penalty for guessing for the SAT, your raw score is the number of questions you answered correctly. Raw scores are converted to scores on a scale of 200 to 800 using a process called equating. This ensures that your score is not affected by different forms of the test or other students’ ability levels. This scaled score is what you see when you get your SAT scores.
SAT Scoring Factors
The SAT is scored on a 200 to 800 scale in each section in 10 point increments. The 2 sections (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math) will have scores provided separately. This relatively small scale means that small improvements in your score can make a big difference in your percentile rank (sometimes, a ten point increase in your score can boost your percentile rank by 5 points).
Remember that on the new SAT, you are NOT penalized for wrong answers. Understanding the scoring and knowing how to approach each section is important part of doing your best on test day.
How is the SAT Essay scored?
SAT Essay responses are scored using a carefully designed process:
- 2 different people will read and score your essay.
- Each scorer awards 1–4 points for each dimension: reading, analysis, and writing. 4 will be Advanced, 3 Proficient, 2 Partial and 1 Inadequate.
- The 2 scores for each dimension are added.
- You’ll receive 3 scores for the SAT Essay — one for each dimension — ranging from 2–8 points.
Other SAT Scoring Factors
Remember that your SAT score is not the only factor that will be considered. Whether or not you are admitted to a college program (and whether or not you receive scholarship money) can depend on several factors. In addition to focusing on achieving the best SAT score possible for you, you should also work on obtaining the best GPA possible, writing a spectacular personal statement, taking a challenging course load and, and rounding out your application with extracurriculars.