Learn How to Calculate SAT Scores

Updated: May 2

SAT is a standardized test evaluating the written, verbal and mathematical skills of a student seeking admission in undergraduate colleges. If you are planning to prepare for the SAT, you probably know that passing the SAT with good scores is no cakewalk. One has to follow an intense study schedule to achieve high scores and secure admission to colleges of their choice. By preparing well in advance and taking enough practice tests, you can ace the SAT exam effortlessly.


Before you appear for the test, it would be useful to brush up your knowledge on how SAT scores are calculated. SAT has a specific scoring structure and acquainting yourself with the scoring system would help assess where you stand in terms of preparation. SAT has raw scores, scaled scores and total scores. Understanding how these determine your final SAT score can be a bit confusing if you are new to SAT. This article is therefore an attempt to help you understand the different aspects of SAT scores in detail.


Let us walk you through the score calculation process.



How to calculate SAT scores?


Knowing how to calculate SAT scores will help you prepare better. There are three steps to calculating SAT scores. Calculate your raw scores, convert them into scaled scores and add them together to get the composite score. Let’s understand each of these steps in detail.



1. Calculate raw scores


Raw scores are dependent on the number of questions you attempt correctly. There are three sections namely Math, Reading and Writing in SAT. You earn one point for each correct answer. SAT doesn’t give negative marks for incorrect answers. So, students are free to attempt a question even if they aren’t sure about an answer. The raw score will vary for each section depending on the number of questions in each section. The Math section typically contains 58 questions whereas Reading and Writing sections contain 52 and 44 questions respectively. If you attempt all questions correctly, your raw score for the Math section would be 58 points. Similar calculations apply for reading and writing sections as well.



2. Turn raw scores into scaled scores


Now that you have a fair idea about calculating raw scores, it’s time to understand how to convert these into scaled scores. Raw score conversion is done with the help of a table on a 200 to 800 scale. It isn’t possible to know the conversion table in advance as the table varies for each test. The table is created such that the test remains standardized for all the students. The table ensures test scores do justice for students irrespective of the difficulty level of the tests conducted on different dates. A ‘perfect’ raw score of 58 may translate to a 800 or 790 on different test dates.


Calculating scores for the Math section is easy. You can convert the raw score directly using the table on a 200-800 scale. But the score conversion method for the Reading and Writing section slightly differs. While Math scores are converted on a scale of 200 to 800, Reading and Writing scores are calculated on a 10-40 scale first and then converted on a 200 to 800 scale. Below is an example of a table with raw scores converted into scaled scores.

Raw Score

Math Test Score

Reading Test Score

Writing and Language Test Score

58

800

57

790