What’s a good SAT score? If you’re trying to figure out your SAT score goal for 2018 admissions, you’ll want to look at the SAT averages for the schools to which you’re applying. There are great resources like the College Board where you can search for averages at a wide variety of colleges.
The new SAT is based on a 1600-point scale, with two sections—Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing—scored between 200 and 800, and the optional essay 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:
These scores will put you in the top 10% of all test takers
EVIDENCE-BASED READING AND WRITING: 660 – 800
MATH: 680 – 800
These scores will put you in a highly competitive place in admissions (top 25% of all test takers)
EVIDENCE-BASED READING AND WRITING: 590 – 650
MATH: 610 – 670
Above Average Scores
These scores put you ahead of the pack (50%+), but won’t be as advantageous when applying to highly competitive programs
EVIDENCE-BASED READING AND WRITING: 510 – 580
MATH: 520 – 600
Below Average Scores
These scores may be enough to get into a wide variety of college programs, but will be below average compared to the testing population
EVIDENCE-BASED READING AND WRITING: 500 or lower
MATH: 510 or lower
Your answer sheet is scanned, and your raw score is calculated by the College Board system. Because there’s no penalty for guessing for the New SAT test, 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 process ensures that your score is not affected by different forms of the test or other test-takers’ ability levels. This scaled score is what you see when you get your scores.
The SAT is scored on a 200-800 scale in each section in 10 point increments. The two 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 ranking (sometimes, a ten point increase in your score can boost your percentile ranking 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.
SAT Essay responses are scored using a carefully designed process:
- Two 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 two scores for each dimension are added.
- You’ll receive three scores for the SAT Essay — one for each dimension — ranging from 2–8 points.
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 extra-curriculars.
Calculating your SAT Score
Calculating your new SAT score should be easy–now that there is no guessing penalty. All you have to do is count the number you got right for a section (your raw score) and look at a table. Right?
Sadly, this is not the case. Instead, we now have two tables, one to convert your raw score to a score out of 40, and another one to see what score on the 800 scale that score of 40 corresponds to.
I know, that last sentence might have been confusing. But that’s because the new SAT scoring is, well, slightly confusing.
And a magical SAT score calculator will never exist because each SAT test is scored a little bit differently. So we’re left to deal with the tables, but let’s take a look and break it down.
To give you a specific example, let’s take the SAT Reading section. It has a total of 52 questions. Let’s say you missed 15. This will give you a raw score of 37. How did I find this? I just subtracted 15 (the number wrong) from the total in the section.
But there is a next step. You will need to convert that raw score to a scaled score (that’s the one out of 40 points). To do this, let’s use the table below. First step: find the column on the left. This gives you the raw score that you can convert to Math, Reading and Writing Scores.
This SAT raw to scaled conversion chart is from SAT Practice Test 1 available on the College Board website. You can use it to help estimate your SAT score from any practice test, but remember each test will vary slighty.
Click “Next” below to table to access the upper range of SAT scores, or use the box at the top left to expand the table.
|Raw Score (# of correct answers)||Math Section Score||Reading Test Score||Writing and Language Test Score|
How to calculate your SAT math score
1. For math, count the number of questions that you answered correctly for both the 20-question section and the 38-question section (remember: THERE IS NO PENALTY FOR WRONG ANSWER CHOICES; in other words, always guess).
2. Use the table above to figure out what score your scaled score corresponds to. Look at the column titled “math section score”. This will give you your actual score.
Example: say you answer 38 of the 52 math questions correctly. This will give you a raw score of 38.
To find out what this translates to in math, just look under the adjacent column to the right (the “math section score”). This number is 600. Therefore, you get a 600 on the math.
How to calculate your SAT reading/writing score
To figure out your verbal score, which is a combination of the 52-question reading section and the 44-question writing section, follow these steps.
1. Count the number of questions you answered correctly in the reading section (this number is out of 52).
2. Change the raw score into the scaled score by looking at the column “Reading Test Score”.
3. Count the number of questions you answered correctly in the writing section (this number is out of 44).
4. Change the raw score into the scaled score by looking at the column “Writing and Language Test Score”.
5. Add the writing scaled score to the reading scaled score. Multiply this number by 10. This will be your verbal score.
Example: Say you answer 32 questions correctly on the reading section. This translates to a score of 29. For the writing section, you answer 29 questions correctly. This translates to a 28. We’ll add 28 and 29, giving us 57. Then, we multiply that number times 10 (57 x 10 = 570). Your verbal score, in this case, is 570.
One last thing about SAT score calculators
Each SAT is not created the same; they differ ever so slightly. One might be a tiny bit more difficult than the other. How do we account for these variations? By a process called equating, that tries to compare SAT tests of varying difficulty. Since the math behind this requires a Ph.D. in statistics, we don’t actually have to understand how equating is done. We just have to expect that not every scale is the same.
For instance, a 57 in math can sometimes result in a perfect 800. This will happen when you get a math section that is slightly more difficult than math sections that follow the scale above. But I doubt there will be a test in which a 56 will get you a perfect score. Again, the differences are ever so slight. Even if a 57 is an 800, a 56 will likely be a 780, as we see in the scale above.
About Chris Lele
Chris Lele is the GRE and SAT Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh Online Test Prep. In his time at Magoosh, he has inspired countless students across the globe, turning what is otherwise a daunting experience into an opportunity for learning, growth, and fun. Some of his students have even gone on to get near perfect scores. Chris is also very popular on the internet. His GRE channel on YouTube has over 10 million views. You can read Chris's awesome blog posts on the Magoosh GRE blog and High School blog! You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook!
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