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How is the SAT exam scored?

Learn more about the how the SAT exam is scored and what that means to you!

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How is the SAT exam scored?

How is the SAT Scored?

Multiple-choice questions: You receive one point for each question answered correctly. For each question that you attempt but answer incorrectly, 1/4 point is subtracted from the total number of correct answers. No points are added or subtracted for unanswered questions. If the final score includes a fraction, the score is rounded to the nearest whole number.

Student-produced response questions in the mathematics section: Each correct answer receives one point. Nothing is subtracted for wrong answers.

The essay will receive a score of 2 to 12. However, a blank essay, essays that are not written on topic, essays written in pen, or essays deemed illegible after several attempts have been made to read them will receive a score of zero.

A statistical process called equating scales your scores for each section from 200 (lowest) to 800 (highest). Scores are equated to adjust for minor differences between test forms. Equating assures you and colleges that a score of 500 on the math section of one form of the test indicates the same ability level as 500 on the math section of another form of the test.

However, contrary to popular belief, achieving a perfect score doesn't mean answering each question correctly. In a recent test administration, you could answer up to four of the questions from the Critical Reading and Writing sections and one of the math questions incorrectly and still receive a perfect score. But this doesn't mean that thousands of students score 2400. The test is scaled so that no more than an estimated 0.07 percent of the test takers in a given year will end up with a perfect score. That means about seven out of every 10,000 test takers will earn a 2400 on the SAT.

Percentiles

In addition to the scaled score of 200-800 on each of the three sections of the test, you also will receive corresponding SAT percentile scores. The percentile score compares your scores to those scores of other students who took the test. The comparison is given as a number between 1 and 99 and tells what percentage of students earned a score lower than yours. Suppose your percentile is 53. That means you performed better than 53 out of every 100 test-takers in the comparison group.

The national percentile is based on all recently graduated college-bound seniors from across the nation who took the test.

The state percentile is based on all recently graduated college-bound seniors from your state who took the test.

 

 The graph illustrates the distribution of scores:

 

A raw score of 40 on the math section would earn a scaled score of roughly 600. Looking at the graph, one can see that a score of 600

places one ahead of about three quarters of the population.

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