Frequently Asked Questions on SAT Scores What Is the SAT, and How Can I Prepare for It? The SAT is a standardized test used for college admissions. It tests students’ knowledge of English and mathematics and the ability to apply that knowledge. High school juniors and seniors typically take the SAT. The College Board publishes free sample tests, practice questions, and other materials on their website. How Do You Calculate Your SAT Score? STEP 1: Prepare Your Raw Scores Using the number of questions you answered correctly, your raw score is calculated. On the SAT, you are awarded one point for each question you correctly answer. Making educated guesses or skipping questions will not result in any consequences.The maximum raw score that can be achieved varies depending on which section is being evaluated (and depends on the number of questions asked). The Reading Test, for example, contains 52 questions, resulting in a maximum raw score of 52 points. If you answered all 52 questions correctly, you would have received a raw score of 52 on the examination. Fifty-eight questions are in total for the Mathematics section. A total of 44 multiple-choice questions are available for the Writing section. STEP 2: Convert to Scaled Scores The raw score is converted into the scale score (for each section, on a 200 to 800 scale). According to the date of the SAT, to ensure that all tests are “standardized. A way of making “easier” SATs equal to “harder” SATs is through the use of a table. Example: A raw score of 57 in Math may translate into an 800 on one test date and a 790 on another, depending on the circumstances. What Is an Average SAT Score? The average SAT score for the class of 2021 has increased slightly from 1051 for the class of 2020 to 1060 for 2021. What Are Good SAT Scores? The total score ranges from 400 to 1600 points, with each of your two sections scoring between 200 and 800 points each. Two areas are cut: one is Math, and the other is Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, a combined Reading and Writing score (EBRW).The higher your score, the better you performed when compared to the other test-takers, as you might anticipate. On the other hand, is there a specific SAT score cutoff that identifies a “good” score?Understand the SAT scoring system in detail before determining what constitutes good SAT scores compared to everyone else. Using your total score out of 1600 (as well as your two section scores out of 800), you can calculate your percentile ranking. Your SAT percentile tells you what percentage of students scored the same or better than you on the SAT. So, for example, if you received a 60th percentile score, you have performed better than 60% of all test takers! Why Should I Take the SAT if My Grades Are Good Enough? Grades are difficult to compare from school to school and complex for colleges to evaluate because grading standards vary from college to college. Standardized tests such as the SAT allow admissions officers a consistent basis for comparison. When Should I Take the SAT? Most students take the SAT in their junior year of high school since the test allows them to focus on subjects they’ve studied and given them another perspective on how well they’re doing in their classes. However, if you’re more comfortable with early testing and you want some time between taking this and your other college entrance exams (ACT or Advanced Placement tests), then try taking it in late fall your sophomore year instead. Is There a Link Between Race and Performance on the SAT? According to the College Board, yes. In 2003, they released a study that showed that African-American and Hispanic students who scored well on the PSAT/NMSQT have a better chance of being in the top quarter of their class in math and science classes than white students who score poorly on this pre-test. “In other words,” states a 2003 article in Black Issues In Higher Education about this study, “it is not where you start from but where you end up when it comes to college entrance examinations.” Can Students Use Calculators on the Math Section of the Test? The SAT calculator policy allows test takers to use calculators on certain exam sections, but it does not provide calculators for those sections. Instead, test takers must bring their computers, and they are not permitted to share calculators with other test participants. It is recommended that students do not use four-function calculators because they lack essential functions you might need on the test, such as exponents and logarithms, which are allowed on the SAT and specific graphing calculators. How Do I Know What College to Apply to After Taking or Not Taking an Act/SAT Exam? Choosing a college to apply to is no easy decision. There are many factors to consider, including distance from your home, potential financial aid awards, and how much you’ll be able to afford the tuition after the financial assistance package. For help in evaluating which colleges you should apply to after taking or not taking an ACT/SAT exam, consult your guidance counselor. What Is the SAT Score Range Breakdown for Each Section of the Test? The SAT is graded on a 1600-point scale, with two sections (Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing) ranging from 200 to 800. In addition, there is an optional essay that is graded separately. Because there is no penalty for incorrect answers, your raw score is the total number of questions you correctly answer. How Do I Know What My SAT Scores Mean in Comparison to Other Students? You can get a good idea of how you did compare to other students by looking at percentiles in national score distribution tables. You can find these charts on the College Board website, https://www.collegeboard.org/. What Is Superscoring? Rather than consider each section of the SAT independently when determining a student’s final math and verbal scores, many colleges “superscore” the two scores by combining test results from both tests into one new, higher score. For example, if a student gets a 650 in Maths and 630 in Verbal on the SAT I tests but later takes the SAT II Subject Tests in both math and verbal, the College Board will combine these two results to form one new combined score (e.g., 680) for each of the two respective sections. Colleges that superscore consider your highest section scores across all SAT dates submitted. What Are Some Strategies That Can Be Used to Improve Your Score on the SAT? A variety of preparation techniques exist for the SAT, some designed to make test day less stressful. Once you’ve developed a study plan, stick with it—by limiting distractions on test day, you’ll be able to focus your energy on demonstrating your skills and knowledge. Here are some additional strategies that may help: When taking the essay section of the exam, remember that two readers will grade each Essay. Their comments will be averaged together to determine your score. It's essential not only to express yourself clearly but also to review both sets of words after completing the exam so you can improve any ideas or grammatical errors before submitting future essays. To save time during the math sections, circle all answer choices before selecting one. This way, you won't have to mark your test booklet while answering the questions. To practice for the reading-comprehension section, read newspaper articles and magazines from all areas of interest—science and math and politics and entertainment. The new SAT includes a 25-minute writing section in which students must respond to a given prompt by producing an essay using evidence from literary or informational texts. To prepare for this part of the test, study some great works of literature and pay close attention to how writers develop ideas within their texts or present evidence such as statistics that supports or refutes claims. Why Should You Take Time off From Studying to Eat Healthy, Exercise, and Socialize With Friends? Taking time off from studying to eat healthy, exercise, and socialize with friends can improve your ability to retain information, recover from stress, and make connections between the new material you’ve learned and what you already know. These skills will help you study more efficiently and effectively when you’re ready. Which Colleges Have a Good Reputation for Accepting Students Who Don’t Have High SAT Scores? Many colleges and universities that do not require SAT or ACT scores as part of their application process still use those test scores to determine if applicants are more likely to succeed at the college. The following schools have a reputation for accepting students who don’t have high SAT scores – Boston University, Brandeis University, Butler University, Clark University, College of the Holy Cross, Goucher College, Hampshire College, Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart, Massachusetts Maritime Academy (limited programs), New England Culinary Institute (minor programs), Nichols School (tiny programs), Roger Williams University (little programs) and Wheaton College. Can I Retake the SAT if I Did Poorly on It Last Time? If you did poorly and aren’t sure how to improve your score, take a Practice SAT and compare your results. If you did well on the English and math sections but bombed the Reading or Writing sections, consider taking an SAT Subject Test in Literature or English to show off your strengths. If you did well all around but want to get an even better score, sign up for an SAT course at Kaplan Test Prep, designed to help students raise their scores by providing them with time-tested strategies paired with expert instruction. Should I Retake the Test if I Don’t Get a High Enough Score on My First Try? If you don’t get the score you hoped for, evaluate your performance on each section of the test before deciding whether or not to retake it. If you did well in one section but bombed another, consider taking an SAT Subject Test in the subject area where you scored lower. For example, if you got a high score in Math but did poorly in Reading and Writing, consider taking an SAT Subject Test in Literature to show off your strengths. If your scores were low across the board, sign up for an SAT course at Kaplan Test Prep to learn more strategies to improve on every type of question that appears on the new SAT.For articles like this and more, subscribe to our learning center’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.