Understanding SAT Scores: SAT test is one of the two most popular standardised tests for college admissions in the United States; the other being ACT. So, if you are planning to study an undergraduate programme in the States, it is likely you will have to take one of these two tests. However if you opt for the SAT test, you might want to be familiar with not only its scoring pattern but associated terms like percentile and average scores to better understand your score and performance. Also, with the introduction of the new SAT in March 2016, you have to factor in changes in scoring pattern and even test structure for understanding SAT scores.

New SAT vs. Pre-March-2016 SAT: Test Content and Pattern

The new SAT is different from the one that students took before March 2016. Here is a comparison of key features between the two tests.


Pre-March-2016 SAT


Total Testing Time

3 hours and 45 minutes

3 hours (plus 50 minutes for the Essay [optional])


  1. Critical Reading

  2. Writing

  3. Mathematics

  4. Essay

  1. Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

  • Reading Test

  • Writing and Language Test

  • Math

  • Essay (optional)

  • Essay

    • Required and given at the beginning of the SAT

    • 25 minutes to write the essay

    • Tests writing skill; students take a position on a presented issue


    • Optional and given at the end of the SAT

    • 50 minutes to write the essay

    • Tests reading, analysis, and writing skills; students produce a written analysis of a provided source text

    Score Reporting

    • Scale ranging from 600 to 2400

    • Scale ranging from 200 to 800 for Critical Reading; 200 to 800 for Mathematics; 200 to 800 for Writing

    • Essay results scaled to multiple-choice Writing

    • Scale ranging from 400 to 1600

    • Scale ranging from 200 to 800 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing; 200 to 800 for Math; 2 to 8 on each of three dimensions for Essay

    • Essay results reported separately

    Subscore Reporting


    Subscores for every test

    Test Length and Timing Compared

    Pre-March-2016 SAT

    New SAT


    Time Allotted


    Number of Questions/



    Time Allotted


    Number of Questions/


    Critical Reading









    Writing and Language






    Essay (optional)













    180 (230 with Essay)

    154 (155 with Essay)

    But before we discuss SAT scores, let’s first understand RAW scores:

    New SAT

    Your raw score is the number of questions you answered correctly.

    • For every question you answer correctly on the SAT, you receive one point.

    • There is no negative marking.

    Since each section has different number of questions, raw scores also vary accordingly. The maximum possible raw scores section-wise are: Reading Test (52), Math (58), and Writing (44).

    Old SAT

    Raw scores for SAT taken before March 2016

    Your raw scores were calculated for each section based on the number of questions you got correct or incorrect, or that you omitted:

    • Correct answers: +1 point for each correct answer.

    • Incorrect answers (multiple-choice): -1/4 point subtracted.

    • Incorrect answers (student-produced response math questions): 0 points subtracted.

    • Omitted: 0 points subtracted for questions you didn’t answer.

    Conversion of raw scales to scaled scores:

    Old SAT

    Using a table, the raw score is converted into a scale score (which has a range of 200 to 800 for each section). A different table is used for each SAT test date to account for difference in difficulty levels. While a raw score of 53 in Math in one test might translate to a scaled score of 800, for another test date the scaled score may be 780.

    Also, additional subscores are reported for the essay (ranging from 2–12) and for multiple-choice writing questions (on a 20–80 scale).


    SAT Writing Section Subscores: For SAT tests taken before March 2016, raw scores for the multiple-choice writing section are converted to scaled scores that were reported on a 20–80 scale. That SAT also included a required 25-minute essay, in addition to the multiple-choice writing section.


    While the multiple-choice writing section accounted for around 70 percent, the essay accounted for approximately 30 of the overall SAT score.


    New SAT

    Raw score is converted to a scaled score using a table on a 200 to 800 scale for each section, just like the old SAT. Different tables are used for different SAT test dates to standardise the tests. This means a raw score of 57 in Math on one test date may have a scaled score of 800, but 790 for another date.


    For the Math section score, you can convert the raw score to scaled score simply by using the table. 


    But for the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score, you have two raw scores:

    1. Reading Test

    2. Writing and Language Test.


    So, you also get two scaled scores. In the next step, you add the two scores and multiply the resultant number by 10 to arrive at your final Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score (from 200 to 800).


    Reading and Writing and Language are listed as separate sections

    In addition to the section scores, which are graded on a 200-800 scale, SAT also publishes Test scores which are reported on on a 10-40 scale.

    You will recall that there are separate raw scores for:

    a) Reading

    b) Writing and Language

    Using the same table, you can get scaled scores for these raw scores. For example, if your raw score is 33 for Reading and 39 for Writing and Language, your scale scores would be 29 and 35, respectively. 

    To get the final Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score (from 200 to 800), you have to add these two scaled scores and multiply them by 10.

    (29 + 35) x 10 = 64 x 10 = 640

     SAT Score Ranges for the New SAT

    SAT Score Reported


    Score Range

    Total score

    Sum of the two section scores.


    Section scores (2)

    1. Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

    2.  Math


    Test scores (3)

    1. Reading

    2. Writing and Language

    3. Math


    SAT Essay scores (3)


    The SAT Essay is optional.

    1. Reading

    2. Analysis

    3. Writing


    SAT Composite Score

    To get the SAT composite score for both the old SAT and New SAT, you just have to add the scaled scores.


    For the old SAT: add the three section scaled scores

    For New SAT: add the two section scaled scores.

    Essay Scoring

    New SAT Essay Scoring

    The optional SAT Essay is scored using a carefully designed process.

    • Each essay is read and scored by two different people.

    • Each scorer awards 1–4 points for each dimension: reading, analysis and writing.

    • The scores of the two readers are then added for each dimension.

    • Three scores are reported for the SAT Essay — one for each dimension — ranging from 2–8 points.

    Each of the two essays is scanned and then scored independently by two qualified scorers. To ensure consistency and high-quality evaluation, a number of uniform standards have been adopted.

    • Readers are trained on a continuous basis even after they initially qualify.

    • The accuracy and fairness of a reader is checked regularly and frequently.

    • Scoring leaders review readers' scoring of selected essays, and provide feedback via phone and the web when appropriate.

    • Web-based scoring enables leaders to monitor readers in real time, informed by reports on inter-rater reliability and other statistics.

    Old SAT Essay Scoring

    In the old SAT, your essay was scored on a scale of 1 to 6 by two independent readers. These two scores were then added to produce the 2–12 scale. In such cases where the two readers' scores differed by more than one point, the help of a third reader was taken to resolve the matter.


    SAT subject tests 

    While SAT test has been redesigned, SAT Subject Tests though remain the same and so do their scoring pattern.Twenty SAT Subject Tests are offered in five general subject areas: English, history, languages, mathematics and science.


    The duration of each Subject Test is one hour and include multiple-choice questions.


    SAT subject tests scoring

    The first step is to calculate the raw score, which is the sum of points you earn based on the number of questions you answer correctly, minus a fraction of the number of the incorrect answers:

    • One point is added for each correct answer.

    • A fraction of a point is subtracted for wrong answers:

    • 1/4 point is subtracted for five-choice questions.

    • 1/3 point is subtracted for four-choice questions.

    • 1/2 point is subtracted for three-choice questions.

    • No points are deducted for unanswered questions.

    • If the resulting score is a fraction, it is rounded to the nearest whole number — 1/2 or more is rounded up; less than 1/2 is rounded down.

    Conversion to scaled score
    The raw score is converted to a scaled score of 200 to 800 points. Scaling is done to adjust minor difference in difficulty that may exist in various versions of the test (for example brtween tests taken on different test dates).


    The scaling process ensures that a score of 500, for instance, on a particular test date is equivalent to a 500 on other test dates — even though the questions are different.


    Other details about SAT Subject tests:

    One may take SAT Subject Tests up to six times in any given school year, on the same days and in the same test centers as the SAT. However, all the 20 tests are not offered on every SAT date. The Language with Listening tests are only offered in November. You can take one, two or three Subject Tests on any test date. Also, SAT and SAT Subject Tests are not held on the same day.


    When can one choose subjects for SAT Subject tests: Apart from choosing your subjects for the SAT Subject Tests at the time of SAT registration, you are allowed to add, subtract or switch tests, though with some limitations, even on test day.

    SAT Score Converter

    Using the SAT Score Converter mobile app and tool, you can now compare new SAT, the old SAT and the ACT scores.

    For converting:

    • A score out of 1600 to a score out of 2400, choose New SAT to Old SAT.

    • A score out of 2400 to a score out of 1600, choose Old SAT to New SAT.

    You can also get comparable ACT scores for any SAT scores, old or new through the application.

    Interpreting Your SAT Scores

    The SAT score report contains a lot of information from mean scores to percentiles. Here we explain what these information means:

    SAT Score Ranges: If you take the SAT Test multiple times, you will probably get a different SAT score each time. It happens because you get a different set of questions each time or you prepared a bit differently from the last time.

    SAT Score Ranges capture the variation in your scores, from the lowest to the highest, and show how your scores vary with repeated testing, while assuming that your skill levels are the same for the testing period.


    Typically, section scores for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and for Math are reported in the range of 30 to 40 points above or below your true ability.


    Mean (Average) SAT Scores: Your mean SAT Score is the average of all scores earned by typical U.S. test-takers per grade.


    College and Career Readiness Benchmarks: Benchmark scores are indicators that  show your readiness for college once you graduate high school.


    Percentile Ranks: Percentile rank shows how you scored in comparison to other students. Scored between 1 and 99, it indicates the percentage of students who scored less than your score.


    Your scorecard includes two percentiles:

    A. The Nationally Representative Sample percentile: It shows your position among typical 11th- and 12th-grade United States students.

    B. The User Percentile — National: It compares your score with scores of typical college-bound U.S. 11th- and 12th-grade SAT takers.

    How to calculate and understand SAT score- Quick Facts

    Reading Test

    • All questions are multiple-choice and based on passages.

    • Some passages are paired with other passages.

    • Informational graphics such as tables, graphs and charts accompany some passages— but no math is required.

    • Prior topic-specific knowledge is not required.

    • The Reading Test is part of the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section.

    Writing and Language Test:

    • All questions are multiple-choice and based on passages.

    • Some passages are accompanied by informational graphics such as tables, graphs and charts — but no math is required.

    • Prior topic knowledge is never tested.

    • The Writing and Language Test is part of the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section.

    Math Test:

    • Most math questions are multiple-choice, but some — called grid-ins — require you to come to come up with answers.

    • The Math Test is divided into two portions: Math Test – Calculator and Math Test – No Calculator.

    • Some parts of the test include several questions about a single scenario.


    Stay tuned to www.studyabroad.careers360.com for more news and updates on SAT


    Title: How to calculate and understand SAT scores

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    Questions related to SAT

    Showing 69 out of 69 Questions

    syllabus of ntse stage 1 sat,mat, LCT

    Akram Khan 22nd Mar, 2020

    Hello aspirant,

    National talent search exam (NTSE) syllabus is divided into two parts: SAT and MAT. NTSE SAT syllabus consist of:


    Social Science

    and Science subjects

    whereas NTSE MAT syllabus consists of :

    verbal and non-verbal reasoning.

    The detailed syllabus you can get from the following link.


    Hope this helps.


    if i want to get myself admitted in the universities of US then do i need ielts or gre or sat certificates?

    Ankita yadav 21st Mar, 2020
    Hi aspirant
    To study in foreign countries i.e. where English is an official language, all these countries ask for IELTS and they have different different scores for different countries. IELTS score lie between the scale of 0-9. And SAT is for graduation courses and GRE for master courses . And both of them have scholarships.

    Hope this is helpful

    how much fee of sat application form

    Suryashis Chakraborty 21st Mar, 2020

    Hello Prince,

    Scholastic Aptitude Test is a standardized test administered by the College Board that serves as a gateway to undergraduate programmes in colleges across Canada and the United States of America.

    The basic fee of SAT costs around USD 47.50 (INR 3,592.07 according to present exchange rates) whereas the SAT with Essay costs around USD 64.50 (INR 4,877.66).

    Hope this helps you. We wish you the best for your future endeavours!



    sat exam information should i gave this exam in class 12th

    Prakarsh Kaushik 20th Mar, 2020


    Yes, You should give SAT exam in Class 12th. It will be beneficial  to give it by August month when you are in Class 12th. SAT Scores are used for admission into Undergraduate courses of Foreign Colleges.

    Most of the Foreign Colleges start their application process in Mid August or September. So, try to give SAT on or before August mid as the SAT results are published in fifteen days and  Early Admission Results of College comes by December end.

    Click at this link to know more about SAT - https://studyabroad.careers360.com/exams/sat-assessments

    Hope this was helpful.


    I am a grade 12 student currently appearing for class 12 boards in kuwait. I am planning to write SAT 2 on may 2 in India. Can i get into NIT through this score through dasa? please reply

    Suvakanta Sahu 10th Mar, 2020


    NIT accepts jee main for admission of students into different engineering streams across India. NTA organizes JEE main exam two times in a year.  one in the month of january and another in the month of april.

    if you want to get an admission to NIT then you can appear april session jee main and score a eligible mark and rank and get an admission.


    The question have been saved in answer later, you can access it from your profile anytime. Access now

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