You take the SAT and then come the weeks of waiting for the results. At times you’re hopeful, at other times fearful. Most of the time, you try not to think of the results at all. Whatever your state of mind, the time will eventually pass, and you will get your score. Let’s fast forward to results day to see and understand the new score report.
Let’s assume that this is the score report for our student Arpit. He was among the brave students who took the new SAT in May 2016, the first time it was held in India.
The report has many numbers. The most important number is your Total Score, which can range from 400 to 1600. Arpit has a Total Score of 1350.
Below the score you see two different percentiles – in this case, 94th and 91st.
Nationally Representative Sample Percentile: This number indicates where you stand compared to all 11th and 12th grade US students, including those who did not even take the SAT. Arpit’s percentile is 94: so only 6% of 11th and 12th grade US students would score higher than him. Some of these students would have taken the SAT, others would not.
SAT User Percentile – National: This number indicates where you stand among college-bound US students who ‘typically take the SAT’. Arpit’s percentile is 91: so only 9% of the 11th and 12th grade US students who take the SAT would score higher than him.
The SAT User Percentile is more useful for college admission.
Below the Total Score, you see the two Section Scores: the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Score and the Math Score. These scores range from 200 to 800, and they add up to your Total Score.
These two scores are the second most important numbers on your score report, second only to your Total Score. Like the Total Score, each section score comes with two percentile rankings.
Each section score also comes with a colour-coded College Career Readiness Benchmark. A green tick indicates that you will be ready for college when you finish school.
Read more about these benchmarks at https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/about/scores/benchmarks.
Next, you see three Test Scores: for Reading, for Writing and Language, and for Math. Each is in the range 10 to 40.
The Math test score is just the Math section score on a scale of 40 instead of 800.
The scores for Reading and for Writing and Language contribute equally to your section score for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing.
Total Score = (Evidence-based Reading and Writing Section Score) + (Math Section Score)
Math Section Score = (Math Test Score) x 20
Evidence-based Reading and Writing Section Score = (Reading Test Score + Writing Test Score) x 10
Your optional Essay Scores are on top of the page, to the right of the Total Score. You get three scores for the essay – one each for Reading, Analysis, and Writing. Each score is in the range 2 to 8.
Two graders read your essay and give a score out of 4 on each dimension. The scores from the two graders are added to give a score out of 8 for each dimension.
Arpit got 6 in Reading and in Writing too. For Analysis he got 5.
Cross-Test Scores and Subscores
Finally, you have the Cross-Test Scores and Subscores. Do they matter? Not very much; at least, not for admission. Colleges are more likely to use these scores when they advise you about subject and course selection.
The two Cross-Test Scores are for Analysis in History/Social Studies and for Analysis in Science. Each of these scores is based on selected questions from the Reading, Writing, and Math tests.
Putting Scores in Perspective
Remember, no score can be a definite measure of how much you know or your ability. As the College Board says, it makes more sense to think of scores in terms of ranges rather than as fixed numbers.
… no two days are the same, and if you were to take the SAT three times in a week or once a week for a month, your scores would vary. According to College Board, the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing scores and Math scores may vary to the extent of ± 30 to 40 points. That’s why it’s helpful to think of each score as a range that extends from a few points below to a few points above the score earned.
Score ranges show how much your score might change with repeated testing, assuming that your skill level remains the same. Check it out at
To read more about details of score ranges for different grade levels, click