How to Calculate and Understand SAT Score

Every SAT exam comes with a score report. An SAT score report not just gives the composite score but a volley of other scores and subscores. These scores and subscores help the colleges to get a better picture of your performance. Let us first look at the different scores before understanding how they are calculated.

The different scores that you will see in the report are as follows:

  1. Total Score – This is an overall score which is the combination of the scores you receive in the math and verbal sections. The highest possible score is 1600. In your SAT coaching, they would have insisted on this score more than the other scores.
  2. Section Score – You will see two sections scores one for the reading/writing section and another for the math. Both these scores range from 200-800.

There are additional sets of scores which carry information about your performance in different subject areas. These scores are:

  1. Test scores – There are three test scores which range from 10 – 40. These are the Reading, Writing, and Math scores. The Section scores and hence the Total score are calculated using these scores.
  2. Cross-test scores – The social and science scores are calculated on the basis of questions from reading, writing, and math sections. These also range from 10-40. The SAT exam syllabus does not explicitly talk about Social or science, but these scores come from all the three sections.
  3. Sub-scores – These scores indicate the strengths and weaknesses in the subject areas.

These scores range from 1-15. The subscores are calculated from reading and writing and language (Command of Evidence and Words in Context), writing and language alone (Expression of Ideas and Conventions of English Language), and math alone (Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Passport to Advanced Math).

How are the raw scores scaled?

The raw score in each section is the number of questions you got correct. The wrong and the skipped ones are not accounted for. The raw score is then converted to the scaled score by a process called “Equating”. This process is to adjust for slight differences in difficulty among different versions of the SAT taken on different days. This ensures proper comparison between students who have taken tests on different days. So don’t worry about your SAT registration. Any day you take the test, the scores will be scaled meticulously.

To obtain the Math Test score, add the raw score from both the sections and scale it using the table. For the Reading and Writing score, add the raw scores, and multiply them with ten.

How is the Essay scored?

If you have given the essay, you will receive scores in three different areas – Reading, Analysis, and Writing. The scores range between 2 and 8. Make sure your SAT course guides you with the essay section too.

How are the Cross-Test scores calculated?

The College Board classifies questions into two skill areas Analysis in History/ Social studies and Analysis in Science. These questions come from all three sections. These scores are indicators of the skills and are neither added nor scaled to total scores.

How are the Subscores calculated?

In Math, the College Board sorts the majority of the questions into three main categories- Heart of Algebra, Passport to Advanced Math, and Problem Solving and Data Analysis. These questions cover nearly 90% of the content and the remaining come from the additional topics. Your SAT classes should help you identify these questions and help you work better.

In the Reading and Writing sections, the questions test on Expression of Ideas, Standard Grammar Conventions, Words in Context, and Command in Evidence.

These Cross-Test scores and Subscores are supposed to highlight your strengths and weaknesses in the specified areas. Colleges are more interested in your total scores and other scores do not matter much. During the SAT preparation, you should work upon improving in this area.

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