You know your SAT score is important for college admissions and even things like scholarships, but how does your SAT score get calculated? I'll show the steps to calculating your final SAT score so you can get an accurate idea of how well you're doing on the exam.
Step 1: Determine Your Raw Scores
Your raw score is simply calculated using the number of questions you answered correctly.
- For every question you answer correctly on the SAT, you receive one point.
- There is no penalty for guessing or skipping.
The maximum possible raw score varies by section (and depends on the total number of questions asked). For example, for the Reading Test, there are 52 questions, so the maximum raw score is 52. If you answered all 52 questions correctly, you would have a raw score of 52. For Math, there are 58 questions. For Writing, there are 44 multiple-choice questions.
There is one essay, which is graded separately on a scale of 2-8 and is not factored into your composite score (your 400-1600 score); therefore, I will not be discussing it further in this article, but for more information, read our articles on the new SAT essay prompts and the SAT essay rubric.
Step 2: Convert the Raw Scores to Scaled Scores
The raw score is converted into the scale score (on the 200 to 800 scale for each section) using a table. This table varies by SAT test date. The table is used as a way to make sure each test is “standardized”. The table is a way of making “easier” SAT tests equal to the “harder” SAT tests. For instance, a raw score of 57 in Math might translate to an 800 on one test date and 790 on another.
For Math, you simply convert your raw score to final section score using the table. For the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score, there is an extra step. You get individual raw scores for the Reading Test and the Writing and Language Test. These two raw scores are the converted into two scaled test scores using a table. The two test scores are then added together and multiplied by 10 to give you your final Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score (from 200 to 800). I'll explain this more in-depth with examples below:
You cannot know what the raw to scale score conversion will be in advance. While the exact raw to scale score conversion will vary by testing date, the College Board supplies this example chart in their new SAT Practice Test:
|Writing and |
Note: this is just an example. The exact conversion chart will vary slightly depending on the individual test.
Why are Reading and Writing and Language listed as separate sections? Why are they graded from 10-40 instead of 200-800? As I mentioned briefly before, you get separate raw scores for the Reading and Writing and Language. You then take these two raw scores and convert them into two scale scores using the above table. For example, if you answered 33 correctly in Reading and 39 correctly in Writing and Language, your scale scores would be 29 and 35, respectively.
These two scaled scores are then added together and multiplied by 10 to give you your final Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score (from 200 to 800). Continuing the above example, if your scale scores were 29 for Reading and 35 for Writing and Language, your final Evidence-Based Reading and Writing scaled score would be:
(29 + 35) x 10 = 64 x 10 = 640
Step 3: Take the Scaled Scores and Add Them Together
Once you have your scaled score for both the Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing sections, you just add them together to get your overall SAT composite score.
For example, if you scored a 710 in Math and 640 in Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, your composite score would be 710+640 = 1350.
How to Understand Your SAT Score Report
The College Board gives you the breakdown of your incorrect, correct, and omitted answers on your SAT score report in addition to your final scaled scores. See below excerpts from a real new SAT score report:
Note that on this test, the raw Math score was out of 57, not 58, points. This sometimes happens when a question on the test is deemed to be unfair or unanswerable and the SAT drops it from everyone's scoring.
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
I'd like to emphasize that you will not be able to determine what the full table of raw to scaled scores conversion was from your score report. Instead, you will only be able to determine what your raw score was and see how it translated to your scaled score.
What This Means for You
Once you have determined your target SAT score in terms of raw score, you can use it to determine your SAT test strategy options. We have plenty of resources to help you out. Once you know what SAT score you're aiming for and how far you are from that goal score, you can begin to develop a study plan, gather study materials, and get to work on raising your score!
If You Need Help Creating a Study Plan
How to Build an SAT Study Plan
How to Cram for the SAT
How Long Should You Study for the SAT?
If You Need More Study Materials
Complete Official SAT Practice Tests
The 11 Best SAT Prep Books
The Best SAT Prep Websites You Should Be Using
If You Want to Raise Your Score
The Best Way to Review Your Mistakes for the SAT
How to Get an 800 on SAT Reading
How to Get an 800 on SAT Math
Want to rock the SAT? Check out our complete SAT study guide!
Want to find free new 2016 SAT practice tests? Check out our massive collection!
Not sure what score to aim for on the new SAT? Read our guide to picking your target score.
Disappointed with your scores? Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We've written a guide about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:
Calculating your SAT Score
Calculating your new SAT score should be easy–now that there is no guessing penalty. All you have to do is count the number you got right for a section (your raw score) and look at a table. Right?
Sadly, this is not the case. Instead, we now have two tables, one to convert your raw score to a score out of 40, and another one to see what score on the 800 scale that score of 40 corresponds to.
I know, that last sentence might have been confusing. But that’s because the new SAT scoring is, well, slightly confusing.
And a magical SAT score calculator will never exist because each SAT test is scored a little bit differently. So we’re left to deal with the tables, but let’s take a look and break it down.
To give you a specific example, let’s take the SAT Reading section. It has a total of 52 questions. Let’s say you missed 15. This will give you a raw score of 37. How did I find this? I just subtracted 15 (the number wrong) from the total in the section.
But there is a next step. You will need to convert that raw score to a scaled score (that’s the one out of 40 points). To do this, let’s use the table below. First step: find the column on the left. This gives you the raw score that you can convert to Math, Reading and Writing Scores.
This SAT raw to scaled conversion chart is from SAT Practice Test 1 available on the College Board website. You can use it to help estimate your SAT score from any practice test, but remember each test will vary slighty.
Click “Next” below to table to access the upper range of SAT scores, or use the box at the top left to expand the table.
|Raw Score (# of correct answers)||Math Section Score||Reading Test Score||Writing and Language Test Score|
How to calculate your SAT math score
1. For math, count the number of questions that you answered correctly for both the 20-question section and the 38-question section (remember: THERE IS NO PENALTY FOR WRONG ANSWER CHOICES; in other words, always guess).
2. Use the table above to figure out what score your scaled score corresponds to. Look at the column titled “math section score”. This will give you your actual score.
Example: say you answer 38 of the 52 math questions correctly. This will give you a raw score of 38.
To find out what this translates to in math, just look under the adjacent column to the right (the “math section score”). This number is 600. Therefore, you get a 600 on the math.
How to calculate your SAT reading/writing score
To figure out your verbal score, which is a combination of the 52-question reading section and the 44-question writing section, follow these steps.
1. Count the number of questions you answered correctly in the reading section (this number is out of 52).
2. Change the raw score into the scaled score by looking at the column “Reading Test Score”.
3. Count the number of questions you answered correctly in the writing section (this number is out of 44).
4. Change the raw score into the scaled score by looking at the column “Writing and Language Test Score”.
5. Add the writing scaled score to the reading scaled score. Multiply this number by 10. This will be your verbal score.
Example: Say you answer 32 questions correctly on the reading section. This translates to a score of 29. For the writing section, you answer 29 questions correctly. This translates to a 28. We’ll add 28 and 29, giving us 57. Then, we multiply that number times 10 (57 x 10 = 570). Your verbal score, in this case, is 570.
One last thing about SAT score calculators
Each SAT is not created the same; they differ ever so slightly. One might be a tiny bit more difficult than the other. How do we account for these variations? By a process called equating, that tries to compare SAT tests of varying difficulty. Since the math behind this requires a Ph.D. in statistics, we don’t actually have to understand how equating is done. We just have to expect that not every scale is the same.
For instance, a 57 in math can sometimes result in a perfect 800. This will happen when you get a math section that is slightly more difficult than math sections that follow the scale above. But I doubt there will be a test in which a 56 will get you a perfect score. Again, the differences are ever so slight. Even if a 57 is an 800, a 56 will likely be a 780, as we see in the scale above.
About Chris Lele
Chris Lele is the GRE and SAT Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh Online Test Prep. In his time at Magoosh, he has inspired countless students across the globe, turning what is otherwise a daunting experience into an opportunity for learning, growth, and fun. Some of his students have even gone on to get near perfect scores. Chris is also very popular on the internet. His GRE channel on YouTube has over 10 million views. You can read Chris's awesome blog posts on the Magoosh GRE blog and High School blog! You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook!
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