Understanding Your Scores
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SAT scores are reported on a scale from 200-800, with additional subscores reported for the essay (ranging from 2-12) and for multiple-choice writing questions (on a 20-80 scale). Your scores tell college admissions staff how you did compared with other students who took the test. For example, if you scored close to the mean or average — about 500 on SAT critical reading and 500 on SAT mathematics — admissions staff would know that you scored as well as about half of the students who took the test nationally.
SAT Subject Test Scores
SAT Subject Test scores are reported on a scale from 200-800, with subscores being reported on a scale from 20 to 80. Reading and listening subscores are reported for all Language Tests with Listening, and a usage subscore is also reported for the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean tests. Your scores tell college admissions staff how you did compared with other students who took the test.
Your test score represents a snapshot in time. If you took the test multiple times, however, that number would likely change — increase or decrease — on each test. This is why we sometimes say a score range better represents your true ability; it considers multiple snapshots of your score instead of just one. Usually, your scores fall in a range of roughly 30 to 40 points above or below your true ability. Colleges know this, and they receive the score ranges along with your scores to consider that single snapshot in context.
Average (or mean) scores are based upon the most recent SAT scores of all students of a particular graduating class.
Percentiles compare your scores to those of other students who took the test. Say, for example, your reading score is 500. If the state percentile for a score of 500 is 47, then this means you did better than 47 percent of the state's college-bound seniors.
Percentiles are based on the most recent scores earned by students in the previous year's graduating class who took the SAT during high school. For the SAT, you will see percentiles both for the total group of test-takers and for your state. Your percentile changes depending on the group with which your scores are compared. Because the total group is larger and more diverse than the state group, your total and state percentiles may differ.
More on Subscores:
SAT Writing Section Subscores
The raw scores for the multiple-choice writing section are converted to scaled scores that are reported on a 20-80 scale. Every SAT contains a 25-minute essay. The essay subscore is reported on a 2-12 scale. (Essays that are not written on the essay assignment, or which are considered illegible after several attempts at reading, receive a score of 0.) Each essay is independently scored from 1 to 6 by two readers. These readers' scores are combined to produce the 2-12 scale. If the two readers' scores differ by more than one point, a third reader scores the essay. The multiple-choice writing section counts for approximately 70 percent, and the essay counts for approximately 30 percent of your total raw score, which is used to calculate your 200-800 score. For more information, visit the Scoring Guide.
SAT Subject Tests Subscores
Subscores on the SAT Subject Tests are used to compute the total score, but their individual contributions differ between the different tests. Subscores are reported on a 20-80 scale. For the French, German, and Spanish with Listening tests, the reading subscore counts twice as much as the listening subscore. For the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean tests, subscores are weighted equally.