Understanding And Utilizing SAT Scores

Everything about How SAT is Scored

SAT is a standard entrance test for admissions to colleges in the United States. It is developed and published by an organization called College Board. It essentially tests the basic capabilities of the student in fields of mathematics, English and writing. Most of the top universities demand high SAT scores even though there is no predefined criterion for this.

It ranges from 600 to 2400, where 600 is the minimum and 2400 is the maximum. These are divided equally among 3 sections- critical reading, math and writing. Each section is scored from 200-800. Apart from this, there are additional scores reported for essay (2-12 scale) and multiple choice writing questions (20-80 scale). Your scores tell the recruiting colleges about your proficiency in individual sections and your percentile reflects your relative performance compared to all the other students that have taken the test.

Raw Score

While scoring, initially when you give the test your raw scores are calculated. This means your score as you are writing the test. There are 3 categories here-

  • If you get an answer correct, you will get a +1 on your overall score.
  • On each incorrect answer in the multiple choice answers 1/4 of a point is deducted, however no points are deducted for incorrect responses on the student produced responses (math section).
  • No points are deducted if you omit any questions.

How Essays are Scored

The essays are scored independently by two different readers on a scale of 1-6 and the total score is added to get the total score on a scale of 2-12. If the two readers differ by more than one point in their scoring, a third reader scores the essay independently. A good score of 5 or 6 on an essay demonstrates a clear and logical flow of thought, good grammar, apt vocabulary and simple organization of the essay. A few errors in spelling or grammar are overlooked unless they hamper an idea critically.

Subject Test Scoring

Apart from the basic SAT exam, there is an additional tool which reflects your domain knowledge and eligibility in a particular area. This is called the subject test. This can be taken in a number of subjects like history, literature, math, physics etc. For more details on the list of subjects, visit the following link: www.collegeboard.org. This score will act as a compliment to your score and help you to apply for the majors of your choice. It is very similar to the raw scoring except for a few very minor differences-

  • If you get an answer correct, you will get a +1 on your overall score.
  • -1/4 is deducted for each 5-choice question, -1/3 for each 4-choice question and -1/2 for each 3-choice question.
  • No points are deducted for leaving the questions.

These subject test sub-scores are used to evaluate the overall scores, but their contributions differ from test to test. For German, French, and Spanish with Listening tests, the reading sub-score counts twice as much as the listening sub-score. However, for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean tests, sub-scores are weighted equally.

Final Scores

There is an unscored section to make sure that the test is fair for different administrations and the questions in this section do not add to your overall score. This is done by incorporating an additional 25-minute section which can be from reading, math or writing section. A statistical analysis is done thereafter to make sure that the score represents a student’s ability correctly. It is to make sure that the scores don’t vary based on the performance of others or based on the variation in difficulty levels of the test over the years.

A final process called equating is carried out which ensures that your overall marks are statistically averaged out irrespective of your competitors or the variations in questions for different test takers. This final score is scaled between the range of 200-800 from your original raw scores.

Credibility of Scores

There are some standard procedures to ensure that scores reflect the true ability of a student. All systems undergo periodic maintenance checks to insure that there are no loopholes. The scoring of the test and the level of questions administered to students in various parts of the world is averaged out using the statistical analysis procedure as explained above.

There are procedures in place to keep track of all your scores (section-wise) and to collect feedback or complaints via phone and internet whenever required. To maintain the accuracy for multiple choice questions all answer sheets are closely monitored through alignment checks and double scanning.

After you get your overall marks, you can choose to send them to the colleges that you want to apply for. You will also have the option of selecting which scores you want to send. Along with that, you can choose to send your subject test scores also.

Apart from these details, if you interested to find out more about the examination and its related features; then visit the following link: www.collegeboard.org. All the best!!