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The SAT Scoring Scale

sat writing grading scale

An SAT score report includes a variety of scores. The score report will also include a percentile rank for each of these scores. Scores are generally available for online viewing within roughly one month after each test administration date.

The first step in calculating a student’s scores on the SAT is to determine the raw score for each sections. Each correct answer adds 1 point to the raw score. The raw score for each section is then converted into scaled scores, as described below. The conversion process allows scorers to correct for minor variations in the difficulty of different test administrations so that the same level of ability should lead to the same scaled score on any test.

Some of the scores describe the same parts of the test in different ways or combinations.

Total Score

The total score is the best-known score for the SAT. Your total score can range from 400 to 1600 and will be based on the sum of your section scores .

Section Scores

You will receive two section scores:

The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score is based on your performance in the first two sections of the test: (Section 1) Reading and (Section 2) Writing and Language.

The Math score is based on your performance in the last two sections of the test: (Section 3) math without calculator and (Section 4) math with calculator.

Test Scores

In additions to your total score and section scores, your score report will include three “test scores”:

Each “test score” is reported on a scale of 10 to 40.

Subject-Based “Cross-Test” Scores

Throughout the SAT, some questions will be based on historical/social studies and some questions will be based on science contexts. Regardless of whether the question relied on your math, writing, language, or reading skills, the results of these questions will contribute to two “cross-test” scores:

In addition to the subject-based cross-test scores, your responses to certain questions contribute to seven subscores.

Responses to certain questions in the Reading section and the Writing and Language section will contribute to:

Responses to certain questions in the Writing and Language section will contribute to the following subscores:

Responses to certain questions on the Math sections will contribute to the following subscores:

Essay Score

If you take the SAT with Essay, you will also receive three scores for your essay:

Each essay score is reported on a scale of 2 to 8. These three scores are not combined with each other or with scores from any other part of the test.

Percentile Scale

Percentile section.

sat writing grading scale


Tools & Calculators

Sat® score calculator.

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Are you taking the SAT® exam soon and not sure how you might do? Then you’re at the right place! With this interactive SAT® score calculator, you can predict how your raw score translates to your SAT® score to answer the common question, “Is my SAT® score good enough?”

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How do you calculate SAT® scores?

When the SAT® revamped in March of 2016, scores became easier to calculate. The test went back to being scored out of a total possible 1600 points. 

When calculating your SAT® score, there are a few key components: 

First, there is your reading test raw score. This raw score is equivalent to the number of SAT® Reading questions you get correct on the test (there are 52 in total). From your raw score, a Reading Test Score is calculated between 10-40. 

Next, there is your writing and language test raw score. This is equal to the number of questions you get right out of the 44 questions in this section. From your raw score, a Writing and Language Test Score is calculated between 10-40. 

Adding your Reading Test Score and Writing and Language Test Score becomes your Reading and Writing Test Score (which ranges from 20-80). This number is multiplied by 10 to get your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section Score (between 200-800). 

Finally, there is your math score. For this section, you add the raw score (the number of correct answers) from both the no calculator and calculator sections to get your math section raw score. This is then converted using a scoring chart to output your Math Section Score (between 200-800). 

This means your total SAT® score can range from 400-1600. 

What’s the difference between SAT® raw scores and SAT® scale scores? How are they calculated?

As noted in the prior question, SAT® raw scores are equivalent to the number of correct answers you got in a section. The SAT® does not have a guessing penalty and only cares about the total number of correct answers. 

SAT® scale scores are how your raw scores translate when converted to section scores — these are between 200-800 for the two sections (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math), to give you a total SAT® score between 400-1600. 

What is a good SAT® score? Decent score? Bad score?

A good SAT® score really depends on the student and their aspirations. For example, if you’re applying to Harvard and have a 1200 SAT® score, it’s unlikely you’ll get in since Harvard’s average score is typically over 1500. That being said, if you’re applying to Michigan State University with that same score, that would be competitive for your college application. 

Generally, in our opinion, anything that falls into the top 30% of graduating high school students should be considered a good SAT® score. When you review the 2019 SAT® score trends , you see the nationally representative sample average SAT® score is 1120. The 70th percentile SAT® test taker is 1170. 

The former number compares how students did on the SAT® to an overall sample of all students grades 11-12, regardless of whether or not they took the SAT®. The latter number applies the actual scores of students in the past three graduating classes to the latest SAT®. 

A decent SAT® score would probably be something around the 50th percentile. Using the nationally representative sample, you’d find this to be a 1010. Looking at just SAT® test takers, the 50th percentile SAT® score would be between a 1050 and 1060. 

A bad SAT® score is quite subjective, but if you were looking at it from a percentiles standpoint, it could be any score below the 25th percentile. Looking at the nationally representative sample, this is between 870 and 880. For just SAT® test takers, it’d be a 910. 

Is 1600 a good SAT® score?

Yes! A 1600 is not just a good SAT® score, it’s a perfect SAT® score. Just like the ACT® , depending on the particular test, there is sometimes leeway on how to get a perfect SAT® score. In other words, there are edge cases where you may be able to get one Reading question wrong and still get an 800 for your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section Score. 

How hard is it to get a 1400 on the SAT®?

It can be pretty tough to score a 1400 on the SAT®. Scoring a 1400 means you’re in the 97th percentile for the nationally representative sample and the 94th percentile among SAT® test takers.

Furthermore, if you were to assume you wanted to score a 700 in both sections and you play around with the score calculator above, you’d see that to score a 700 in math, you can only miss around eight questions on average. 

Then, to score a 700 in Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, you’d only be able to miss around eight questions in SAT® Reading and five questions in SAT® Writing. 

Is 1200 a good SAT® score?

A 1200 is a good SAT® score. When you review the 2019 SAT® score trends, you’d see that a 1200 equates to the 81st percentile for the nationally representative sample, and 74th percentile for SAT® test takers. This means scoring a 1200 on the SAT® puts you in the top quartile of high school students taking the test. 

What is the average SAT® score?

The average SAT® score is typically between 1010 and 1060. This is pulled from the SAT® score trend data in which the 50th percentile for the nationally representative sample was a 1010, and among SAT® test takers, the 50th percentile fell between a 1050 and 1060.

Why is the SAT® exam curved?

The SAT® exam itself is not curved relative to test takers. That being said, the College Board does put each test through a process referred to as equating. This process ensures no student receives an advantage or disadvantage from taking a particular for on the SAT® on a particular day. 

In other words, it ensures a test score of 500 equals a test score 500 on an SAT® from another day. 

The equating process is also why you’ll notice that when you use our SAT® score calculator, there are sometimes variances in how you might have scored on one practice test versus another. There can be cases for instance where getting a perfect score in Math was necessary for an 800, while you could get one question wrong in another. 

Since the last SAT® change in March 2016, the SAT® has remained consistent in terms of how raw scores translate to scale scores. 

How do I read my SAT® Score Report?

The College Board provides a helpful short video on how to understand your SAT® score report here .

The first step is navigating to . 

Upon logging in, you’ll see your total SAT® score, which combines your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section and Math Section score. 

In your SAT® Score Report, you’ll also find specifics on your test scores (number correct and incorrect in each section), cross-test scores (how you analyze texts and solve problems that are interdisciplinary with Science and History) and subscores (how you performed on specific key concepts). 

These sections will be color coded so you know exactly where you need to improve. 

If you took the essay, you’ll see how you did on reading, writing, and analysis. 

If you prefer not watching a video on this, you can review the College Board’s PDF resource on reading SAT® Score Reports here .

Why should I use this SAT® score calculator?

Albert’s SAT® score calculator uses official practice test curves from the College Board. This means our calculations are accurate and up-to-date to the practice materials shared from the test maker.

If you’re ever in doubt and would like to confirm the score conversion charts for yourself, you can review the official resources here .

We made this SAT® score calculator because we saw that everyone else simply replicated the tables when creating what they called a “calculator”. Interactive score calculators with sliders are a way more visual and fun way to motivate yourself to preparing for your SAT®. They help you actually play with levers on what sections you could see the biggest boost in your score from to get your desired SAT® score. 

How do you figure out your SAT® superscore?

To figure out your SAT® superscore, you’ll need to first compile all of the test days you took the SAT®. Next, look for your highest scores for SAT® Evidence-Based Reading and SAT® Math.

So for example, if you got a 700 on one SAT® Math test, and a 750 on another, you’d choose the 750.

Finally, total your highest scores — this is your SAT® superscore.  

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SAT Score Chart – A Definitive Guide – Clever Harvey

“What is SAT Score and how it is evaluated”, this is the question that you might be having in mind if you are appearing for the SAT Exam anytime soon. As you already know that colleges and universities also ask for SAT Scores to offer you admission , it becomes important that you understand components of scoring to help yourself ace the exam in a better way.

In order to help you get the concepts well, This blog talks about everything you need to know about SAT Scoring.

Table of Contents

SAT Score Chart: How it works?

The SAT Score chart will help you to understand how scoring is done in SAT Exam.

Below is an SAT Score Chart with sections and possible raw points that are based on the number of total questions per section. The raw score is needed to be covered into a scaled score which is mentioned later in the article.

Raw Score Conversion Chart for SAT Exam in 2021-22

Here is the Raw Score Conversion Chart to understand the raw score and scaled score:

So for your reference, if your raw score is 28 in Maths then after converting to scaled score it will be 520 which will be calculated out of 1600 as a cumulative score.

SAT Scoring: Understanding Raw Score & Scaled Score

There are two concepts that exist in SAT Scoring. The first concept is a Raw Score which simply calculates how many right answers you did out of total questions. The other concept is Scaled Score where the raw score is converted into a scaled score making it a comprehensive grading score which is out of 1600. The Score Chart officially released by College Board on their website can help you understand the conversion of raw scores into scaled scores which might vary as per different test dates.

SAT Raw Score

The SAT Raw Score is considered as a marking factor that represents correct answers out of total answers which is then multiplied by 10 to get the Scaled Score of that particular section. 

Every exam has a different format for calculating the scores and marking students. Since the calculation doesn’t happen straight based on per question marking scheme, there is a concept of Raw Score which exists to ease out of the system of offering cumulative scores to the candidates.

SAT Raw Score based on different sections

The SAT exam consists of various sections such as Reading, Writing & Language , and Mathematics . The various sections have different numbers of questions which count towards separate raw scores.

Here is a detailed example to help you calculate the scores:

Note: The SAT Raw Score is a basic score that simply represents the total number of correct questions out of the total possible questions. This is then converted to a scale score which counts the cumulative grading score of 1600 (combining all sections). 

SAT Scaled Score

After calculating the raw score, you have to refer to the SAT Scaled Score sheet from the official website to get the Scaled Score of that particular section. Since there is an EBRW and Maths section, every section does carry a maximum scale score grade of 800. The scenario to convert raw score to scaled score may vary as per different sections.

SAT Score: Why it is Important

Do you know why SAT Score is important? Here is an in-depth insight into SAT Score and its importance to help you know why it matters to you:

Why to know about SAT Score?

The SAT Score is a thing of prime importance as it evaluates your ability and capability around topics related to Language, Reading, Writing, and Math. Since the SAT Score Chart is an extensive examination, it covers all those concepts which can help in assessing how well a candidate is suitable for studying in colleges abroad. 

As an SAT applicant appearing for the exam, it becomes important for you to understand concepts related to the SAT Score Chart so that you can prepare yourself well for attempting various sections and questions in the right way.

You also need to understand concepts like SAT Average Score, SAT Score Range, etc. in order to understand how SAT Score Chart determines your selection in a particular college or university .

SAT Score Helps in College Admission Abroad – Good SAT Scores & other factors

The SAT Score is a crucial criterion that will help you to get into colleges abroad. It helps you in deciding your future career, so it is important that you give good weightage to scoring well in SAT Exam. While SAT is one of the most crucial factors for getting admission, other factors like portfolio, extracurricular activities, community service, etc.

Can also play an important role in determining your eligibility. It is advisable that you should also focus on creating your portfolio by enrolling yourself in internships or career accelerator programs like JuniorMBA by Clever Harvey .

SAT Scoring: Know the Tactics to Excel

The information about how scoring and grading are done in the SAT Exam can help you to define your scope or strategy for scoring well in exams. It can also help you in deciding which sections cover the most marks and how easy it is to attempt for a particular section to score more. 

The SAT Scores can also help you in easily determining the probability of getting admission into colleges . Some colleges may ask for 95% percentile scores or some colleges may give you admission based on cumulative grades. Every college may have different scores or ranking criteria to shortlist you based on your performance in the SAT Exam along with your portfolio and high school grades.

SAT Score Range

The SAT Score Range in Scaled Score ranges between 200-800 points per section which contributes to a cumulative grade of 1600. Since the scaled score is calculated as per the chart released by College Board, it may differ in terms of exam date as the variety and difficulty level of questions may change.

Wondering why you should know about SAT Score Range? Here are some of the crucial factors to understand:

What is a Good SAT Score?

The SAT Score above 1200+ out of 1600 can be considered as a fairly good SAT Score which can increase your chances of admission to reputed colleges. However, you might need higher than 1400 to get into top colleges, but just remember a good attempt can open your doors for admission into some of the best colleges.

What is a Minimum SAT Score?

The minimum SAT score is 400 but it might not be as useful due to the fact that you cannot score admission with such a score. You have to target at least above 1000 to get into the probability of getting admission into colleges through SAT score.

What is an Average SAT Score?

The average SAT scores range between 1000 and 1200. Referring to the stats by the College Board, the score of 1051 is considered as an Average SAT Score with a score of 528 on EBRW and 523 in the mathematical section. However, this does not mean that your chances of getting into a particular college are 100%.

Some colleges or universities do require higher scores than others. For example, some universities require you to have at least 1500 or 1600 on your SATs while other schools can also consider scores just above 1150. You should check out the requirements of each university before applying so that you know how much you need to get to apply there.

Here is the list of Average SAT Scores by Top Reputed Universities

Counting the math: good, average & highest sat scores.

Good scores in SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) are important for you to get selected into good colleges. It gives you an idea about your academic skill combining the ability to read, write and understand subjects along with mathematics. If you have a score above 1400 on the SAT you can go for higher studies in top universities.

While referring to average scores, it can be considered as the score which is obtained by a maximum number of candidates, In various cases, 1050-1068 are considered as average scores. Now coming to the highest score, it ranges between 1500-1600 which is obtained by a very less number of candidates.

Check Highest SAT Scores

SAT Score Conversion Chart

The SAT score is based on the marks obtained in different sections of the test such as EBRW and Mathematics. The total score is counted towards converting the raw scores from every section to a scaled score, cumulative of which will be the total SAT Score. This practice is also good if done while doing practice tests so as to get insight into how SAT Scoring really works and how a candidate is evaluated based on scoring criteria.

The SAT Score Conversion chart may vary in terms of exam dates as the questions and difficulty level do change with every exam. You need to just calculate raw scores and then you can refer to the official score chart guide on the College Board website to get corresponding scaled scores for different sections like EBRW and Mathematics. 

ACT to SAT Conversion

The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) and ACT (American College Testing) are two popular examinations conducted to assess you based on your academic reasoning consisting of reading, writing, mathematics, etc. It decides whether you have the capability to get selected into colleges abroad or not.

Since both are competitive exams, you can opt for both exams to increase your probability of getting admission into good colleges. The SAT Score Range is 200-1600 while the ACT Score ranges from 1-36. The majority of colleges and universities do accept both scores separately.

FAQs related to SAT Score Chart

What is a good score in the sat exam.

A score above 1200 out of 1600 is considered a good SAT Score which can eventually help you to secure admission to college.

What is the highest score in the SAT Exam?

The highest score in SAT Exam is 1600 but seeing the probability it can be considered that any score above 1500 can be counted in the range of being the highest score. The candidates scoring 1500+ are counted in the percentile of 99.

What is the maximum score for the SAT Exam?

The maximum score for the SAT Exam is 1600.

How many times can we take the SAT Exam?

You are allowed to sit for the SAT Exam multiple times in a year. There is no limit on it as the exam is conducted 5 times a year. If you think you have not performed well, you can reappear several times.

Where to take the SAT Exam in India?

The SAT Exam is conducted across the nation in the designated centers allotted by the College Board. The major cities of India do have various centers where students can give the exam on a specified date.

The College Board also offers convenience to students in terms of selecting the exam center as per their choice.

How is the SAT Exam?

The SAT exam is considered one of the competitive exams which can help students to get into reputed colleges abroad. Since the exam tests the basic abilities related to reasoning, math, language, writing, learning, etc.

It doesn’t require students to put extra effort into learning concepts out of their reach. They can refer to their school subjects in order to appear in the exam. 

Which Exam is good among SAT and ACT?

There is no thin line between SAT and ACT as both are designed to help candidates score good marks to help them get shortlisted for colleges abroad. You can even have the choice to appear for both exams simultaneously.

What You Need Apart From SAT Score to Secure Admission?

To secure admissions in college abroad, you need to ensure that you also focus on building your portfolio while aiming for higher SAT Scores.

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The SAT Scoring Scale

Each administered SAT contains approximately 170 questions (plus the Essay), and each SAT section score is based on the total number of questions a test taker correctly answers, a total known as the section raw score. After arriving at the raw score, a unique Conversion Table is used for each section of the SAT to convert the raw score into a scaled SAT score. Currently, all three sections of the SAT are scored on the 200 to 800 scale, with 200 being the lowest possible score and 800 being the highest possible score.

Because the Conversion Tables used for each test are slightly different, many students ask, “What does it take to get a good score?” The answer to this question varies depending on the type of college you want to attend, but you do not need to answer every question correctly to do well on the test. Consider the following raw score conversions from the practice test you will take today:

You can also use the Conversion Tables that accompany each test to help determine the performance level required in each individual section to achieve a particular score. For example, to achieve a 600 in the Math section of this test you must achieve a raw score of at least 38.

While examining the SAT scale it is important not to lose sight of what the scores actually represent. The 200 to 800 test scale contains 61 different possible scores. Each score places a student in a certain relative position compared to other test takers. These relative positions are represented through a percentile that correlates to each score. The percentile indicates where the test taker falls in the overall pool of test takers for that year. For example, a score of 1800 represents the 81st percentile, meaning a student with a score of 1800 scored better than 81 percent of the people who took the SAT that year. The percentile is critical since it is a true indicator of your positioning relative to other test takers, and thus college applicants. Click on the following link to view general percentiles for your total score and each subject area score:

Using data from all seven tests in a given year provides College Board with a stable and accurate percentile for each score. Otherwise percentiles could vary significantly from test to test as different groups of test takers performed better or worse. Historical analysis shows that percentiles do change from year to year, but only by minute amounts. Since percentiles are not calculated on a per test basis, each test taker does not compete against the other students taking the same SAT. Instead, each test taker competes against the students from the entire year. In fact, because of question pre-testing through the use of experimental sections, the conversion chart for each SAT is supposedly set before the test is administered. Only minor adjustments are then made to normalize the test.

The normalization yields a rough bell curve. The number of test takers in the 200s and 700s is very low, and most test takers are bunched in the middle, comprising the "top" of the bell. In fact, approximately 40% of all test takers score between 1350 and 1680 inclusive, and about 70% of all test takers score between 1200 and 1850 inclusive. To learn more about the SAT scoring scale, visit the counselor's web page of the College Board ( ).

sat writing grading scale


What's a Good SAT Score?

What’s a good SAT score? If you’re trying to figure out your SAT score goal for the upcoming admissions season, you’ll want to look at the SAT averages for the schools you’ll apply to. There are great resources like the College Board where you can search for averages at a wide variety of colleges.

The SAT is based on a 1600-point scale, with 2 sections— Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing —scored between 200 and 800. There is also an optional essay, which is evaluated separately.  There is no penalty for wrong answers, so your raw score is the sum of the number of questions you answer correctly.

Raw scores are converted to scaled scores, which are used to determine percentile ranks. The percentile indicates how well you did compared to other test takers. For example, if you score in the 72nd percentile, you did better than 72% of test takers.

SAT Score Ranges: Average, Good, and Highest SAT Scores

  best sat scores.

These SAT scores will put you in the top 10% of all SAT test takers


Sat math:   690-800,   competitive sat scores.

These SAT scores will put you in a highly competitive place in admissions (top 25% of all SAT test takers)


Sat math: 600-680,  above average sat scores.

These SAT scores put you ahead of the pack (50%+), but won’t be as advantageous when applying to highly competitive programs


Sat math: 530-590,   below average sat scores.

These SAT scores may be enough to get into a wide variety of graduate programs, but will be below average compared to the testing population


Sat math: 520 or lower, test-optional sat scores.

Some schools have decided to make SAT test scores optional as part of their application requirements. This may sound like a good idea but if you are looking to have your application stand out, a good SAT score is still one of the best ways to do that. Just because a school has decided to allow applicants to exclude SAT test scores does not mean other applicants are not continuing to submit SAT scores when applying.

How is the SAT scored?

Your answer sheet is scanned, and your raw score is calculated by the College Board’s system. Because there’s no penalty for guessing for the SAT, your raw score is the number of questions you answered correctly. Raw scores are converted to scores on a scale of 200 to 800 using a process called equating.

This process ensures that your score is not affected by different forms of the test or other students’ ability levels. This scaled score is what you see when you get your scores.

SAT Scoring Factors

The SAT is scored on a 200 to 800 scale in each section in 10-point increments. The 2 sections (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math) will have scores provided separately. This relatively small scale means that small improvements in your score can make a big difference in your percentile rank (sometimes, a 10-point increase in your score can boost your percentile rank by 5 points).

How many points is each question worth on the sat?

In terms of your raw SAT score, each question answered correclty will result in you recieving one point and there is no penalty for guessing or skipping a question on the SAT.

Does my SAT Score Determine Which College Will Accept Me?

No, your SAT score does not determine which college will accept you, but it will help differentiate your application, even if the SAT is optional at the school you are applying to. Whether or not you are admitted to a college program (and whether or not you receive scholarship money) can depend on several factors. In addition to focusing on achieving the best SAT score possible for you , you should also work on obtaining the best GPA possible, writing a spectacular personal statement, taking a challenging course load and, and rounding out your application with extracurriculars.

How is the SAT Essay scored?

SAT Essay responses are scored using a carefully designed process:

2 different people will read and score your essay

Each scorer awards 1–4 points for each dimension.

The three dimensions are reading, analysis, and writing. If you are awarded 4 points that will be considered advanced.  3 points is considered proficient, 2 is partial and 1 is inadequate.

You’ll receive 3 scores for the SAT Essay

One for each dimension — ranging from 2–8 points


College Board has announced that the paper-and-pencil SAT will be no more, as the test will soon switch to a digital version . Test-takers in the U.S. will first experience the digital test for the October 2023 PSAT before the SAT officially goes digital in the U.S. in 2024.


The main change to the Digital SAT will be the duration, as the test will now only take two hours, instead of three. For many test-takers, the shorter test day will make the SAT less daunting and more approachable.

The Digital SAT will be section-adaptive, meaning that each subject will be divided into two sections. The test-taker’s performance on the first section will inform the difficulty of the second section. The goal of this is to create a more efficient test-taking experience. Despite these changes, the SAT will retain its 1600 scoring scale.

Other changes to the SAT include a calculator being allowed on the entire math section and shorter reading passages with just one question-per-passage.

Expert Test Tip

Katie Sollenberger, Manager of Content and Curriculum, ACT, SAT, and GED

“Standardized tests like the ACT or SAT can feel scary because they may feel or look different from tests you’ve taken in school. Luckily, both the ACT and the SAT are predictable precisely because of their standardized nature. With routine practice, you can know exactly what you’re looking for on the test, lowering your stress levels and increasing your confidence. Don’t try to cram; give yourself at least two months to prepare, and plan to practice at least twice per week.”

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What Is a Good SAT Score?

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For many students, getting into college is about more than just good grades and a compelling personal statement — it's about strong test scores.

Like the ACT, the SAT is a popular college entrance exam in the U.S. While there's no score you need to pass the test, a higher SAT score can increase your chances of getting into college. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Not all colleges require SAT scores, so check that your target schools require or recommend taking the exam before you sit for it. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has led many universities to adopt test-optional policies , meaning schools will not require SAT/ACT scores for the 2021-22 application cycle (and possibly beyond).

So what SAT score should you aim for? And what counts as a "good" SAT score?

What Is a Good SAT Score Overall?

In general, any SAT score above the 50th percentile, or median, can be considered a decent score, since this means you've performed better than the majority of test-takers.

Scoring in the 50th percentile, however, won't cut it at most selective colleges . The standard for a good SAT score increases considerably depending on how competitive the applicant pool is. This is why it's typically better to aim for at least the 75th percentile, or 1200 or higher .

Your SAT score, which ranges from 400 to 1600, is the sum of your two section scores: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW). Each section uses a scale of 200-800 in 10-point increments. A good score on Math or EBRW, then, would be around 600.

Percentiles can be used to see how well you did compared with other test-takers. Refer to the following percentile charts to see what constitutes a good SAT score. Note that the percentile rankings for scores may change slightly from year to year.

Source: SAT Understanding Scores 2021

What Is a Good SAT Score Based on Your Schools?

To raise your chances of getting accepted to a particular college, aim for an SAT score that's around that of the typical enrolled applicant. In other words, if the average first-year student earned a 1300, then you too should try to get at least 1300.

To figure out what to aim for, find the middle 50% of scores for each school you're applying to. The middle 50% is a range between the 25th and 75th percentiles. Your goal should be to earn a score around your school's 75th percentile. If that's too difficult, aim for higher than the 25th percentile score (though know that your application may be less impressive).

Many colleges provide SAT stats on their websites. You can either search online for the school's name and the phrase "SAT score range" or look for a first-year class profile page or a general facts and figures page.

Say you're applying to Emory University. Emory's class profile page lists the middle 50% of SAT Math and EBRW scores for the class of 2025. Based on this data, you know to aim for around 770 on EBRW and 780 on Math — both incredibly high scores.

The exact SAT score you should aim for will vary depending on the colleges you apply to . Less selective institutions admit applicants with SAT scores closer to the national median, whereas highly selective universities often prefer scores in the 1400-1600 range.

Good SAT Scores for 20 Popular Colleges

The table below presents the middle 50% of enrolled students' SAT scores at 20 well-known colleges and universities. All data is for the class of 2025.

What Is a Good SAT Essay Score?

The SAT used to offer an optional essay. In 2021, however, the College Board announced it would no longer offer the SAT essay . The only exception to this policy is if your state requires the SAT, in which case you may need to take the essay on an SAT School Day .

Even though colleges can't require the SAT essay anymore, some students taking the SAT on a school day may be interested in getting a good essay score for their own satisfaction. The SAT essay is scored separately from Math and EBRW. You'll get 50 minutes to write an essay that analyzes the author's claims and argument in a given passage.

Two graders will read your essay and assign you a score on a scale of 1-4 in three categories: Reading, Analysis, and Writing. The total score range is 2-8 for each category. A perfect SAT essay score would be three 8's — that's a 4 from both graders in all three categories.

Although the College Board doesn't report any percentiles for the SAT essay, it does provide the average scores for each category based on 2020 data:

Generally speaking, an adequate SAT essay score is anything above these averages, but it's better to aim higher if possible. For a more in-depth look at the SAT essay and how students score on it, the charts below tell you what percentage of test-takers earned each possible score in the three categories:

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SAT Writing


It's 17-19 days after your SAT test date , so you log into the CollegeBoard website , eager to see how you did. You look at your essay score and see...“9.”

You check for more detail in your score report and see that Grader 1 gave you a 5, Grader 2 gave you a 4...and that's it.

So how are SAT essays graded, and how can you use this information to your advantage? Read on to find out!

feature image credit: Iffy explains it all by Quinn Dombrowski , used under CC BY-SA 2.0 /Cropped and resized from original.

UPDATE: SAT Essay No Longer Offered

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In January 2021, the College Board announced that after June 2021, it would no longer offer the Essay portion of the SAT (except at schools who opt in during School Day Testing). It is now no longer possible to take the SAT Essay, unless your school is one of the small number who choose to offer it during SAT School Day Testing.

While most colleges had already made SAT Essay scores optional, this move by the College Board means no colleges now require the SAT Essay. It will also likely lead to additional college application changes such not looking at essay scores at all for the SAT or ACT, as well as potentially requiring additional writing samples for placement.

What does the end of the SAT Essay mean for your college applications? Check out our article on the College Board's SAT Essay decision for everything you need to know.

A Quick Look Into SAT Essay Grading

The first thing you do when you sit down to take the SAT is the 25-minute essay section. Once you write your essay (as well as the rest of the test), though, what happens to it?

Your essay is scanned and uploaded to an essay grading interface and graders then grade it. SAT essays are currently graded on a scale of 1-6 by two graders, giving you a total essay score out of 12 . This score out of 12, along with your raw score on the SAT Writing multiple-choice questions, is factored into your total SAT Writing score . If the two graders give you scores more than 1 point apart (i.e. if one grader gives your essay a 2 and another gives your essay a 4), a third essay grader will be brought in to resolve the issue.

Your SAT essay scores are based on each essay grader’s impression of your essay as a whole, which is why the SAT essay is said to be graded "holistically." You don’t get a certain number of points taken off for grammar mistakes or for organizational issues, as you might on a normal school essay. In fact, graders are trained to ignore minor errors in grammar, sentence structure, and so on.

Important note : In March 2016, the SAT essay will be changing in format and grading structure, so some of this information may not be accurate for that test. Check back for updates!

SAT Essay Scoring: Official Policy

How are graders supposed to grade? I've copied the official policy from the CollegeBoard below:

“The SAT Scoring Guide expresses the criteria readers use to evaluate and score the student essays. The guide is structured on a six-point scale. Since the SAT essay is scored holistically, readers are trained to use the SAT Scoring Guide in conjunction with anchor papers, which have been scored by consensus as representative examples. The language of the Scoring Guide provides a consistent and coherent framework for differentiating between score points, without defining specific traits or types of essays that define each score point.”

What's the SAT Scoring Guide? While I've written another article that goes into detail about the SAT essay grading rubric , I'll give a quick rundown of its main points here:

Point of View, Logic, and Support

You must: Have a clear opinion on the prompt (a thesis).

Make sure you clearly answer the essay prompt, both in your introduction with a thesis statement and over the course of your essay. For example, take the essay prompt were "Are important discoveries the result of focusing on one subject?" Your thesis (and your essay) should clearly answer this question, preferably with a "yes" or "no" (SAT essays that try to answer "sort of yes, sort of no" tend to be weaker, since you only have 25 minutes to write your essay).

You must: Use specific examples to support your point.

You can't just say "my point of view is correct because it is" and be done. Instead, you need to use specific examples from history, literature, pop culture/current events, or your own life to support your thesis.

You must: Explain these specific examples in a way that supports your thesis.

It's also not enough to just write your thesis and then describe a specific example - you also need to explain why that example supports your thesis.

Organization and Focus

You must: Keep your essay organized.

This means sticking to a clear essay structure (with an introduction, body paragraphs for each example, and a conclusion) as well as making sure your thoughts are organized within each paragraph.

Vocabulary and Word Choice

In order to score highly, you must: Use a wide variety of vocabulary correctly.

It's good to use advanced vocabulary, but only if you're using the words correctly. You can get away with a few errors, but if your word choice starts to seriously affect the meaning of your sentences, your essay score may drop.

Sentence Structure

In order to score highly, you must: Use a variety of sentence structures.

As I've said in other articles, this is the area that I struggle the most with under time pressure. As long as you don't start multiple sentences in a row with the same word (oops) or write sentences that all have the same underlying structure (e.g. "Gandhi was a great leader. India was in trouble. The world was watching."), however, you should be fine.

Grammar, Etc.

You must: Use standard written English grammar.

Again, it's all right to make minor errors in grammar and punctuation in your essay - graders are trained to overlook minor issues . If your essay has consistent issues with grammar that make it difficult to understand your reasoning, however, this will affect your essay score.

SAT Essay Grading in Practice

Essay graders don’t grade based on how correct your statements are. This means that you can write things like "My friend was killed by a polar bear because he didn't go to the instructional course about how to deal with bear attacks" or "The Scopes Monkey Trial ended with Scopes being executed for his belief in evolution" and the graders will have to take it as true.

My reaction when I first learned this: WHAT. How can that be true?! So I investigated further and found the reasons that lie behind this rule.

Because SAT essay scorers don’t have time to fact check each and every fact in each and every essay, they must take everything you write in your essay as true . Plus, the stated purpose of the SAT essay assignment is to "show how effectively you can develop and express ideas" in 25 minutes. The CollegeBoard understands that under the time pressure of a 25-minute essay students will sometimes write things like "World War I took place in the early 1800s" (instead of "the early 1900s"). As long as your statements logically support your thesis, you're in the clear (although if you write things that don’t make sense that undermine your main point, your essay grade will suffer).

Second, while there’s nothing in the publicly available official guidelines that say how long each grader has to grade, interviews with and articles by former SAT essay graders have provided further information about the grading process: if an essay scorer takes longer than 2-3 minutes to grade each essay, she has to be "retrained." This process is annoying, as the grader has to grade a series of pre-graded essays and make sure she's within a point of the grade before she can get back to grading actual student essays.

Graders may also be forced to retrain if they run into a prescored essay that's been thrown in among the student essays and don't score it within one point of the score. To avoid all of this retraining, graders will sometimes score in the middle of a range to stay on the safe side . For example, if an essay is at least a 4, a grader might score it a 5 because that grade is within one point of a 6 OR a 4 (and might be right on target with a 5).


What Does This Mean for Your SAT Essay?

Now that you know a little more about the official SAT essay grading policies and the reality of SAT essay grading, how can you use this information to write higher-scoring essays?

Don’t hide your thesis. Graders spend 2-3 minutes per essay or else face a retraining penalty. They will not be happy if they have to hunt all over to find your point of view, so state your thesis clearly in your introduction.

Be organized. Again, because the grader is spending a short amount of time on your essay, you want to make it easier for her to follow your logic.

You can make a few mistakes. As long as errors in your grammar, punctuation, and spelling don’t significantly affect the readability of your essay, your essay's graders won’t penalize you for it. Similarly, as long as the facts you use in your essay logically support your thesis, it doesn't matter if they're actually true or not. For instance, you could completely change the plot of a novel like George Orwell's Animal Farm , and as long as the changes you've made make logical sense, the graders must not penalize you for it.

What’s Next?

Curious about what standards SAT essay scorers are using to grade your essay? Go into more detail on this topic with my article on the SAT Grading Rubric .

Now that you know how your essay is scored, find out what's a good SAT essay score and compare it to the average SAT essay score .

Get more insights on the SAT essay with our strategies for the SAT essay, based on stories of former SAT essay graders .

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Our program is entirely online, and it customizes what you study to your strengths and weaknesses . If you liked this SAT Essay lesson, you'll love our program.  Along with more detailed lessons, you'll get your SAT essays hand-graded by a master instructor who will give you customized feedback on how you can improve. We'll also give you a step-by-step program to follow so you'll never be confused about what to study next.

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Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.

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#SAT College Board

SAT Grading Scale: Everything You Need To Know


There are a few basic facts about SAT score that all test takers are aware of. Like you probably know a good SAT score is somewhere in the range of 1000 while 1200 puts you in the top 25% of the candidates. You also probably know that each correct answer gets you 1 point on the raw score. But the SAT Grading Scale on the whole can be tricky to work out and often remains a mystery to test takers. So when the test results are out after about a month, there are doubts that remain in the minds of candidates. To avoid them and to know exactly what you are getting into, it’s important to understand the intricacies of the SAT grading scale.

What does your SAT Score report include?

Some think that the SAT Score report is a maze to get through because there are different scores including Total Score, Section Scores, Test Scores, Subject Based Scores, Subscores and Essay Scores. We will look at each one of them closely in this article.

The report will also give you a percentile rank for all these scores. The raw score, which gets added up with every correct answer, is converted into a scaled score. It is done to help scorers adjust variations in the level of difficulty in different test administrations.

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The basic principle behind scaling is to ensure that same level of ability amongst candidates should equate to same score.

Besides these there are seven subscores, which are given based on answers to certain questions across Reading, Writing and Language, and Math sections. Understanding the grading scale will not only help you understand your SAT score, better but let you prepare for the test knowing your specific goals as well.

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  1. How Is the SAT Scored? Scoring Charts

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  2. SAT and ACT score scale

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  3. Grading with Scales

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  4. SAT & ACT Percentile Score Charts

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  1. How SAT Scores Are Calculated

    Both scores are made up of 21 questions on the reading test, 6 on the writing and language and 8 on the math test, for a total of 35 questions on the SAT contributing to each of these scores. The raw score from 1 to 35 for each test is converted to a scaled score between 10 and 40.

  2. How Is the SAT Scored? Scoring Charts

    The SAT has two big sections—Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW), and Math. You can earn a scaled score of between 200 and 800 points on each section, for a total of 1600 possible points on the SAT. The scaled score of between 200 and 800 is converted from the raw score you earn on each section.

  3. The SAT Scoring Scale

    The total score is the best-known score for the SAT. Your total score can range from 400 to 1600 and will be based on the sum of your section scores. Section Scores You will receive two section scores: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Score: 200-800 Math Score: 200-800

  4. How Do You Calculate SAT Score? Raw and Scaled

    For the Reading and Writing and Language sections on this 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

  5. PDF Understanding SAT Scores

    Understanding SAT Scores - College Board

  6. SAT® Score Calculator for 2022

    SAT® scale scores are how your raw scores translate when converted to section scores — these are between 200-800 for the two sections (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math), to give you a total SAT® score between 400-1600. What is a good SAT® score? Decent score? Bad score?

  7. SAT Score Chart: SAT Raw Score Conversion Chart, SAT Subject Test Raw

    A SAT score of 1580 is needed for admission in Harvard - the score breakup for Reading and Writing is 720-780 and for Math, it is 740-800. What is the Average SAT Score? As per the report of 2018, the average SAT score obtained worldwide is 1068. SAT Score range is 400-1600 and the mathematical average of SAT is 1000.

  8. New SAT vs. Old SAT Score Conversion Chart

    For example, obtaining a perfect score on the old SAT (2400)­ puts you in the 99 th percentile, meaning you scored higher than 99% of all other test takers. An 800, the lowest possible score on the 2400 scale, would be in the 1 st percentile, meaning you scored higher than 1% of the other test takers.

  9. SAT Score Chart 2022

    The SAT exam consists of various sections such as Reading, Writing & Language, and Mathematics. The various sections have different numbers of questions which count towards separate raw scores. Reading Section: It consists of 52 questions which marks the total raw score as 52.

  10. The SAT Scoring Scale

    The SAT Scoring Scale. Each administered SAT contains approximately 170 questions (plus the Essay), and each SAT section score is based on the total number of questions a test taker correctly answers, a total known as the section raw score. ... Writing* (out of 49) 800. 54. 67. 49. 750. 51. 63. 44. 700. 48 ... While examining the SAT scale it ...

  11. What's a Good SAT Score?

    The SAT is based on a 1600-point scale, with 2 sections— Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing —scored between 200 and 800. There is also an optional essay, which is evaluated separately. There is no penalty for wrong answers, so your raw score is the sum of the number of questions you answer correctly.

  12. What Is a Good SAT Score?

    Your SAT score, which ranges from 400 to 1600, is the sum of your two section scores: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW). Each section uses a scale of 200-800 in 10-point increments. A good score on Math or EBRW, then, would be around 600. Percentiles can be used to see how well you did compared with other test-takers.

  13. SAT Essay Scoring: The Real Story

    Your essay is scanned and uploaded to an essay grading interface and graders then grade it. SAT essays are currently graded on a scale of 1-6 by two graders, giving you a total essay score out of 12. This score out of 12, along with your raw score on the SAT Writing multiple-choice questions, is factored into your total SAT Writing score.

  14. SAT Results 2023: Score Range, Percentile, Calculator, Cancellation

    SAT scores are calculated on a scale of 400-1600. The sectional score for Math and EBRW scales from 200-800. The SAT essay section is optional and will not be calculated into the overall SAT score. The average SAT score is 1000. The highest SAT score required in top universities ranges from 1350 and above.

  15. SAT Grading Scale: Everything You Need To Know

    Both these scores range between 200 and 800. Test Scores - There are three of these; Reading Test Score, Writing and Language Test Score and Math Test Score. They are scores for section 1, 2, and 3 and 4, respectively. The grading scale is from 10 to 40. Subject Based / Cross Test Scores - It includes Analysis of History / Social Studies ...