What is SAT Scoring?

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  • Written By: Amy Hunter
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 31 December 2019
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SAT scoring occurs in three sections, critical reading, math, and writing. The scaled SAT scoring for each subject ranges between 200 and 800, with the average scores being 500. The total possible score for the entire test is 2400, with the average SAT score being 1500.

Anyone who has ever seen an SAT test may wonder where the 2400 perfect score number comes from. The testing company uses two different calculations to come up with the scaled score. When students take the SAT, their papers receive a raw score.

The raw score starts with the number of points the student receives for correct answers. Each incorrect answer reduces the SAT scoring by one quarter point. For skipped questions, there are no additions or subtractions. In the math section of the test, there is a section for student-produced results, where they complete and fill in math grids. An incorrect answer in this section does not subtract any points from the student's score.

On the SAT sub-tests, the student received one point for each correct answer. There is no point deduction for a skipped question. If there were five choices, one quarter point is deducted for each incorrect answer. Four choices lead to a one third of a point deduction and three choices will earn a one-half point deduction.


For the writing sub-section, the multiple choice raw score section is converted to a scaled score. The scale for the multiple choice writing section is 20 to 80. The 25 minute essay section receives a grade between two and twelve. The only way a student can earn a zero on the writing test is by writing off topic, or not completing the essay at all.

Two readers will grade the essay on a scale of one to six. The scores will be added together to determine the score for the essay. The multiple choice portion of the writing section makes up 70 percent of the score, and the essay 30 percent.

Once the raw scores for the SAT tests are determined, the SAT scoring system uses a statistical calculation to convert the score to a range of 200 to 800. This process, known as equating, is to ensure that students across the country, taking different versions of the test, and with different proctors, will have scores that reflect the depth of their knowledge, and not just their test taking experience.


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