SAT score is the one-step aspect that determines college admissions and the career ahead. There is a bit of confusion when it comes to understanding SAT scores to understand which is the right college to apply to and evaluate whether it is a good result to go.  The College Board has specific principles that they follow in evaluating the SAT score and zeroing into the final number. Here are those steps that would help to understand how the scores are calculated: 

1. Get to know your Raw Scores: The raw score is the number of questions you have answered correctly in the totality of the exam. The students need to note two important aspects regarding this: 

  • One mark will be awarded for every correct answer given 
  • There is no negative marking for the wrong answer 

The overall raw score differs by each section and is dependent on the individual sections such as Reading and Math. For example, if the reading test has 52 questions, the maximum raw score one can get is 52.  There are 58 questions in Math and 44 multiple choice questions for writing.  

The essay section is additionally graded on a scale of 2-8. It is to be noted that the essay section is optional that the student can either choose or omit. 

 The essay score is not added to the SAT composite score that is for 1600.  

2. Know the way of converting raw scores to composite scores: Using a table, the raw scores can be easily converted into the composite score  

Here is a rough table of the way raw scores can be converted to composite scores: 

Raw Score  Math Section
Score 
Reading Test
Score 
Writing and
Language
Test Score 
58  800 
57  790 
56  780 
55  760 
54  750 
53  740 
52  730  40 
51  710  40 
50  700  39 
49  690  38 
48  680  38 
47  670  37 
46  670  37 
45  660  36 
44  650  35  40 
43  640  35  39 
42  630  34  38 
41  620  33  37 
40  610  33  36 
39  600  32  35 
38  600  32  34 
37  590  31  34 
36  580  31  33 
35  570  30  32 
34  560  30  32 
33  560  29  31 
32  550  29  30 
31  540  28  30 
30  530  28  29 
29  520  27  28 
28  520  26  28 
27  510  26  27 
26  500  25  26 
25  490  25  26 
24  480  24  25 
23  480  24  25 
22  470  23  24 
21  460  23  23 
20  450  22  23 
19  440  22  22 
18  430  21  21 
17  420  21  21 
16  410  20  20 
15  390  20  19 
14  380  19  19 
13  370  19  18 
12  360  19  17 
11  340  17  16 
10  330  17  16 
9  320  16  15 
8  310  15  14 
7  290  15  13 
6  280  14  13 
5  260  13  12 
4  240  12  11 
3  230  11  10 
2  210  10  10 
1  200  10  10 
0  200  10  10 

 

The reading and writing sections of SAT scores are separately graded with raw scores and these can be converted based on the above table. They are added together and multiplied by ten to give a final Evidence-Based reading and writing score that ranges between 200-and 800. 

3. Get hold of the scaled scores and sum them up: Usually, the college board gives a comprehensive report on the number of correct and incorrect answers to give a better idea about the evaluation.  

Example: For the Reading and Writing and Language sections on this SAT score report, this student’s raw scores were 52 and 42. These raw SAT section scores scaled to section scores of 40 (Reading) and 39 (Writing and Language), which translated to a 790 Evidence-Based Reading & Writing Score: 

(40 + 39) x 10 = 790 

The sum it up, the total SAT score can range from 400-to 1600 after calculating in an aforementioned way. It is always better to first calculate the raw score, and convert it to a composite score to get the final result. 

Is there something like a good and bad SAT score?  

The answer to this question is highly dependent on the student’s aspirations. For a prestigious IVY league university like Harvard, the student should aim at a minimum of 1500 out of 1600 to secure a seat. However, a university like Michigan would accept a score of 1200-1300 as well. So, know your priorities and your target university before planning to prepare for a good SAT score.  

The score that falls into 30% of graduating high school students is generally considered to be a good SAT score.  The average SAT score out of the overall US is around 1120. 

One must also note that SAT score is evaluated using percentiles as well. A percentile score is a comparative score where the average student’s score is compared to the highest scoring student’s score for that examination. So it is important to be aware of percentile scores as well to get a better idea of evaluation. 

Is it difficult to get a high score on SAT? 

This can be a subjective question because a high score is dependent on various factors. It mainly depends on how well the student is prepared, manages time, and how well the student has performed in the mock and practice tests. Getting into an SAT online course will be a great way to start with. And the educational experts say that by starting prep early, the chances of getting a higher SAT score will increase. 

Here are the three main tips to follow for scoring high on SAT: 

  1. Good study material: Get hold of good study material that is not vast- but informative and concise. The students can often get confused and overwhelmed with the information overload when it comes to preparation. Take the help of teachers, senior students, and mentors to know the right study material to start with. 
  2. Right guidance: Joining an SAT course will not only give you experienced guidance about preparation, but also gets you closer to understanding how others are preparing, and the well-proven strategies for cracking the examination. 
  3. Practice tests are mandatory: No matter how well you are adept in the conceptualization, doing practice tests is mandatory and an unavoidable step to excelling in SAT. Get hold of practice tests, and previous year papers and be consistent in practicing them- to get a better idea of evaluating yourself in the exam.  

The Final Word: 

The SAT score calculation can get a little complex at first look but by following the principles, it can be easier to understand and brings a good evaluation to the student. It will also determine what the student can do next- by understanding the SAT score.