One of the most frequently asked questions about the SAT is how the scores are calculated. In the same way that you should know the scoring rules before you play any game or sport, you would want to know how your SAT test is going to be scored if you want to win.
Knowing how SAT scoring works will help you plan a strategy when choosing which questions you should answer first and which ones to answer last, improving your chances of getting a better score.
Raw vs Scaled Scores
Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of The SAT scoring procedure, let’s first talk about Raw and Scaled scores to avoid confusion later on.
Raw SAT Scores
Your raw score is simply the number of questions you answered correctly for each section. In the SAT, you will not be penalized for giving wrong answers or skipping questions. The only questions that will matter are those you answered correctly. The list below shows the number of questions each section in SAT will have.
- Reading test – 52 questions
- Writing test – 44 multiple choice questions
- Math – 58 questions
If you answered 50 reading test questions correctly, then that is your raw score for that section.
If you answered 43 writing test questions correctly, then that is your writing test raw score.
If you correctly answered 58 questions in the math section, then that is your raw score and you are a math wiz.
SAT Scaled Scores
Once you have your raw scores for each section of the SAT test, then it is time to convert them to the scaled score. To do that, you would need the table below. Here is the rule in converting raw scores to scaled scores.
For the Math raw score, just refer directly to the table below. If you got 58 answers correctly, then you get a scaled score of 800. If you only got 50 correct scores in math, your scaled score for math would be 700.
For the Writing and Reading test though, it is a little more complicated. As you can see, the perfect scaled score for each of them is from 10 to 40, whereas math is from, 200 to 800. So how do you calculate the scaled score for both reading and writing tests?
First, you need to get the scaled score for the writing and reading test separately. Then you add the writing and reading scaled scores and multiply the sum by 10. Some examples are presented below the table.
|Raw Score||Math Section |
|Writing and |
Here are some examples of the conversion from the raw score to scaled score.
Let’s say for example you answered 45 math questions correctly, that would mean your scaled score for math is 660.
Now for reading and writing. Let’s say you got a raw score of 40 for reading and 37 for writing and language. You need to get the scaled score for each: Using the table above, you see that the raw score of 40 for the reading test is equal to 36. And the raw score of 37 for the writing and language test equal to 34.
Now you have to add them together and multiply them by 10
36 + 34 = 67
70 x 10 = 700
Your Reading and Writing scaled score, therefore, is 700.
Let’s put it all together and get the composite score.
SAT Composite Scores
Now that you have your scaled score for the three major sections in SAT, you can determine your actual SAT composite score. The way to get your composite score is very simple. Just add your three scaled scores together and that’s it.
In the above example, you have a scaled score of 660 for math and a combined scale score of 700 for reading and writing test. That makes your SAT composite score 1360. Not a bad score.
Now that you know how your score is calculated, you can use this to make a strategy to get a good SAT composite score. For example, if you doubt your skills at math, then you can calculate how much score you need to get in reading and writing to make up for the low math score. Note however that some colleges, especially highly competitive universities, will require and look into your subject test scores.
Practice Tests Will Give You A Clue
If you use SAT practice tests, you would have an idea how well you will do on the actual SAT test. That is because practice tests are designed to closely resemble the actual test. If in the SAT practice test you only get a score of 35 in math, then you should work on studying the topics where you make the most mistakes and increase your scores in reading and writing tests. Know your weak areas and focus on these.
The best way to get a good SAT score is by preparing for it with a study strategy. Follow a consistent study schedule and take practice tests. These tests familiarize you with the test structure and tell you a lot about areas where you need to improve. It also helps you remember concepts you’ve reviewed as you put what you’ve learned into practice. Study for each of the SAT test subjects, specifically math, which makes up a big part of the score.