Understanding Your SAT Scores

Taking the SAT is nerve-wracking, but what do your SAT scores mean?

Flickr user Eric E Castro

There’s a certain anxiety in the air after you’ve taken your SAT. You now have to wait for your SAT scores and wonder how well you did. Once they arrive though, do you understand what they mean? Here’s a quick rundown on how to read your results:

Overall Score 

The SAT was recently revamped in March of 2016, making the scoring system a little different than it was previously. Currently, it is made up of two sections (not including the optional essay, which is scored separately): Math and Evidence Based Reading and Writing. The highest score you can receive is 1600 and this is a combination of both sections of the test.

Section SAT Scores

As we said, Math and Evidence Based Reading and Writing are both scored separately and are combined together to create your official overall score on the SAT. Each section is individually worth between 200 and 800 points.

Now that you know your grade, you can compare how you did to the others who have taken the SAT. The top 10% of test takers tend to earn between 660 and 800 in Evidence Based Reading and Writing and above 680 in Math. To be considered competitive, the score has to be between 650 and 690 in Reading and Writing and 610 to 670 in Math. Above average is 510 to 580 in Reading and Writing and 520 to 600 in Math.

Knowing how you score when compared to other students can give you a good idea if you need to retake the exam for your college application or if you’re in the range your college is looking for. If you’re hoping to get into a very competitive university, you will want to aim to be in the competitive section or top 10% of results.

The SAT Revamp

In March 2016, the SAT underwent a revamp of their scoring system. The new results give a further breakdown beyond the section scores, allowing students to examine what areas they really need to work on in the future.

Cross test scores is one score section that was added. These results reflect on your analyzation and problem solving skills in History/Social Studies and Science. It scores between 10 and 40 points for each section.

The other scoring section that is now included is known as Subscores. There are 7 categories here and each can earn between 1 and 15 points. The Reading and Writing Subscores are made up of Command of Evidence, Words in Context, Expression of Ideas, and Standard English Conventions. The Math scores include Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Passport to Advanced Math.

If you take a look at each of the cross test scores and subscores, you can see where your strengths and weaknesses are across the entire exam. If you choose to retake the SAT, you can focus a majority of your efforts on your weakest areas.

Taking the SAT can indeed be stressful, as is waiting for the results. However, thanks to the revamped SAT scoring system, you can now get a full idea of how well you really did during the exam.

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