How is the SAT Scored?

The SAT is a standardized exam utilized by the majority of colleges and universities to assist in admissions decisions. Because the test is standardized, schools can roughly compare the abilities of all applicants based on their SAT results.

[RELATED: What is an Average SAT Score?]

A prospective student’s overall SAT score is the combination of results earned in three categories—Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. Scores currently range from 600-2400, though the SAT will return to a scale of 1600 in the spring of 2016, when the College Board releases its revision of the exam. View our past post for section-specific changes

How is my score calculated?

Final scores are calculated in the following manner: each correct multiple-choice answer is worth a maximum of one point. One-fourth of a point is deducted for an incorrect answer. (Beginning in 2016, the guessing penalty will no longer exist.) Omitted questions will neither help nor hurt the overall score—no points are awarded or deducted. Certain math problems are scored differently. Questions that require the student to perform calculations and record a final response are scored on a point-no point basis. If the student's answer is correct, one point is awarded. If the response is incorrect, no point is awarded. There are no deductions on problems of this format. Here are five great SAT test prep tips.

How is my essay assessed?

The essay, which will become optional on the new SAT, is also marked in a different manner than multiple-choice questions. The Writing portion of the SAT includes an essay element that is given a score of 1-6 by two separate readers, for a maximum of 12 (unwritten essays will receive a score of 0). Readers are education professionals who grade each response based on the level of quality in a number of areas. These include: demonstrated critical thinking, a developed point of view with a clear focus and organization throughout, the appropriateness and quality of examples and vocabulary, overall flow and the rhythm of sentence structure, and grammar and mechanics. You may also want to utilize a prep book to help you prepare. 

What is equating? What is percentile rank?

When the raw scores for all three sections (Critical Reading, Math, and Writing) are obtained, they are each converted to a result between 200 and 800. This is known as equating. After raw scores are converted into what are now referred to as the calculated scores, they are used to compare the student's performance with the performance of other individuals. This percentile rank is what schools pay close attention to, because it describes how well a student compares to all other individuals who have completed the SAT at that time.