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How Do You Calculate SAT Score? Raw and Scaled

Posted by Dora Seigel | Mar 31, 2017 11:30:00 AM

SAT General Info

 

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The old SAT was scored on a 2400 point scale, and the new SAT is scored on a 1600 point scale, but you don’t answer 2400 or 1600 questions on these tests (or a number remotely close). So, how does your score get calculated? I'll show the steps to calculating your final SAT score for both the old (pre-March 2016) and new (March 2016 and on) SAT. 

 

First, Determine Your Raw Scores

For the Old SAT:

Your raw score would have been calculated using the number of questions you answered correctly and the number of questions you answered incorrectly. 

  • For every question you answered correctly on the SAT, you received one point
  • For every question you answered incorrectly on the SAT, you received minus ¼ point, with the exception of grid-ins in the Math section, for which you would have received zero points for wrong answers.
  • For every question you skipped on the SAT, you receive zero points.

The maximum possible raw score varies by section (and depends on the total number of questions asked). For example, for the Critical Reading, there were 67 questions, so the maximum raw score wa 67. If you answered all 67 questions correctly, you would have a raw score of 67. For Math, there were 54 questions. For Writing, there were 49 multiple-choice questions and 1 essay (which is given a score between 0 and 12).

 

For the New 2016 SAT:

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 nor 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.

 

Next, Convert the Raw Scores to Scaled Scores

For the Old SAT:

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 53 in Math might translate to an 800 on one test date and 780 on another.

You cannot know what this 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 the SAT Preparation Booklet:

 

Raw Score

Critical Reading
Scaled Score

Math
Scaled Score
Writing Multiple-Choice
Scaled Score
67 800    
66 800    
65 800    
64 790    
63 770    
62 760    
61 740    
60 730    
59 720    
58 700    
57 690    
56 680    
55 670    
54 670 800  
53 660 790  
52 650 760  
51 640 740  
50 630 720  
49 620 710 80
48 620 700 78
47 610 690 75
46 600 680 73
45 600 670 71
44 590 660 70
43 580 650 68
42 570 640 67
41 570 640 66
40 560 630 64
39 550 620 63
38 550 610 62
37 540 600 61
36 530 590 60
35 530 590 59
34 520 580 58
33 520 570 57
32 510 560 56
31 500 550 55
30 500 540 54
29 490 540 53
28 480 530 52
27 480 520 51
26 470 510 50
25 460 500 49
24 460 490 48
23 450 480 47
22 440 480 46
21 440 470 45
20 430 460 44
19 420 450 43
18 410 440 42
17 410 430 41
16 400 420 40
15 390 420 39
14 380 410 38
13 380 400 38
12 370 390 37
11 360 380 36
10 350 370 35
9 340 360 34
8 330 350 33
7 320 330 32
6 310 320 31
5 300 310 30
4 290 290 29
3 270 280 27
2 260 260 26
1 240 240 24
0 220 220 22
-1 210 200 20
-2 or below 200 200 49

 

You may be wondering why the Writing is listed out of 80 for the scaled score instead of 800. The reason for this discrepancy is that the multiple-choice portion of the Writing only counts for approximately ⅔ of your Writing scaled score. The other ⅓ comes from your SAT essay score. The essay is graded on a scale of 0 to 12. For further explanation of the old SAT essay and grading, read this article on SAT Essay Scoring: The Real Story.

The College Board provides this chart as an example of how your final Writing scaled score is calculated from your essay score and multiple-choice raw score:

Essay Score

Raw Score 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 0
49 800 800 800 790 770 750 740 720 710 700 680 670
48 800 800 780 760 740 720 710 690 680 670 650 640
47 790 770 760 740 720 700 690 670 660 640 630 620
46 770 750 740 720 700 680 670 650 640 630 610 600
45 760 740 720 710 690 670 650 640 630 610 590 580
44 740 730 710 700 670 660 640 620 610 600 580 570
43 730 720 700 680 660 640 630 620 600 590 570 560
42 720 700 690 670 650 630 620 600 590 570 560 550
41 710 690 680 660 640 620 610 590 580 560 550 540
40 700 680 670 650 630 610 600 580 570 550 540 530
39 690 680 660 640 620 600 590 570 560 550 530 520
38 680 670 650 630 610 600 580 560 550 540 520 510
37 670 660 640 630 610 590 570 550 540 530 510 500
36 660 650 630 620 600 580 560 550 530 520 500 490
35 660 640 620 610 590 570 550 540 530 510 490 480
34 650 630 620 600 580 560 550 530 520 500 490 480
33 640 620 610 590 570 550 540 520 510 490 480 470
32 630 620 600 580 560 540 530 510 500 490 470 460
31 620 610 590 580 550 540 520 500 490 480 460 450
30 610 600 580 570 550 530 510 500 480 470 450 440
29 610 580 570 560 540 520 500 490 480 460 440 430
28 600 580 570 550 530 510 490 480 470 450 440 430
27 590 570 560 540 520 500 490 470 460 440 430 420
26 580 570 550 530 510 490 480 460 450 440 420 410
25 570 560 540 530 500 490 470 450 440 430 410 400
24 560 550 530 520 500 480 460 450 430 420 400 390
23 560 540 520 510 490 470 450 440 430 410 390 380
22 550 530 520 500 480 460 450 430 420 400 390 380
21 540 520 510 490 470 450 440 420 410 390 380 370
20 530 520 500 480 460 440 430 410 400 390 370 360
19 520 510 490 480 460 440 420 410 390 380 360 350
18 520 500 480 470 450 430 410 400 390 370 350 340
17 510 490 480 460 440 420 410 390 380 360 350 340
16 500 490 470 450 430 410 400 380 370 360 340 330
15 490 480 460 450 430 410 390 370 360 350 330 320
14 490 470 450 440 420 400 380 370 360 340 320 310
13 480 460 450 430 410 390 380 360 350 330 320 310
12 470 460 440 420 400 380 370 350 340 330 310 300
11 460 450 430 420 400 380 360 350 330 320 300 290
10 460 440 420 410 390 370 350 340 330 310 290 280
9 450 430 420 400 380 360 350 330 320 300 290 280
8 440 430 410 390 370 350 340 320 310 300 280 270
7 430 420 400 390 360 350 330 310 300 290 270 260
6 420 410 390 380 360 340 320 310 290 280 260 250
5 410 400 380 370 350 330 310 300 280 270 250 240
4 400 390 370 360 340 320 300 290 270 260 240 230
3 390 380 360 350 330 310 290 280 260 250 230 220
2 380 370 350 330 310 290 280 260 250 240 220 210
1 370 350 340 320 300 280 260 250 240 220 210 200
0 350 340 320 300 280 260 250 240 220 210 200 200
-1 330 320 300 290 270 250 230 220 200 200 200 200
-2 310 300 280 270 250 230 210 200 200 200 200 200
-3 310 290 280 260 240 220 210 200 200 200 200 200

 

Again, the exact conversion varies by test date.


 

For the New 2016 SAT:

Similar to the old SAT, the raw score is converted into a scale score using a table, and the tables vary 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

 

Raw Score

Math Section
Score

Reading Test
Score
Writing and
Language
Test Score
58 800    
57 790    
56 780    
55 760    
54 750    
53 740    
52 730 40  
51 710 40  
50 700 39  
49 690 38  
48 680 38  
47 670 37  
46 670 37  
45 660 36  
44 650 35 40
43 640 35 39
42 630 34 38
41 620 33 37
40 610 33 36
39 600 32 35
38 600 32 34
37 590 31 34
36 580 31 33
35 570 30 32
34 560 30 32
33 560 29 31
32 550 29 30
31 540 28 30
30 530 28 29
29 520 27 28
28 520 26 28
27 510 26 27
26 500 25 26
25 490 25 26
24 480 24 25
23 480 24 25
22 470 23 24
21 460 23 23
20 450 22 23
19 440 22 22
18 430 21 21
17 420 21 21
16 410 20 20
15 390 20 19
14 380 19 19
13 370 19 18
12 360 19 17
11 340 17 16
10 330 17 16
9 320 16 15
8 310 15 14
7 290 15 13
6 280 14 13
5 260 13 12
4 240 12 11
3 230 11 10
2 210 10 10
1 200 10 10
0 200 10 10

 

Note: this is just an example. The exact conversion chart will vary by test date.

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 2 raw scores and convert them into 2 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

 

Finally, Take the Scaled Scores and Add Them Together

For both the new and old SAT, once you have your scaled score for each section, you just add them together to get your overall SAT composite score.

For the old SAT, you add together three section scaled scores: Critical Reading, Writing, and Math. For example, if you scored a 500 in Math, 670 in Critical Reading, and 580 in Writing, your composite score would simply be 500+670+580 = 1750.

For the new SAT, you'll only be adding together two section scaled scores: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. 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

For the New SAT, 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:

 

body_scaledscoresnewsat.pngbody_sectionscoresnewsat.png

 

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 new 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

On this particular test date for the old SAT, a raw score of 52 in Critical Reading translated to an 40, and a raw score of 42 in Writing and Language translated to a 39. However, 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 new SAT score in terms of raw score, you can use it to determine your SAT test strategy options. If you are finishing but are getting too many wrong to meet your score goal, skipping the hardest questions and spending more time on others may be a better strategy for you.   

 

What’s Next?

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:

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Dora Seigel
About the Author

As an SAT/ACT tutor, Dora has guided many students to test prep success. She loves watching students succeed and is committed to helping you get there. Dora received a full-tuition merit based scholarship to University of Southern California. She graduated magna cum laude and scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. She is also passionate about acting, writing, and photography.



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