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Explanation of SAT Test Scores: A Guide For Students

written by: •edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 4/5/2010

If you're preparing to take the SAT and are wondering how the test scores are calculated, then this explanation will come in handy. The SAT, or Scholastic Aptitude Test, consists of three sections that are scored separately and then combined for a total score. Learn how to read your test results.

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    This SAT test scores explanation is useful to keep in mind when you receive your results, as you will have a clear understanding of what the individual and combined numbers mean. The Sholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is organized and evaluated in the manner detailed below.

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    Sections of the SAT

    The SAT is divided into three test sections: Reading, Math, and Writing. Each of these sections scored within a range of 200 to 800 points. In addition, a separate essay score (2 to 12 points) and multiple-choice score (20 to 80 points) are awarded within the Writing section of the SAT.

    The Reading section of the test covers areas such as passage-based reading and sentence completion. The SAT Math section requires both multiple-choice and student-produced answers to problems involving integers, sets, ratios, sequencing, and counting. The Writing section requires test-takers to complete exercises such as identifying sentence errors, improving sentence and paragraph structure, and composing an essay.

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    Scoring the SAT

    Students who take the SAT are able to score a minimum of 600 points (200 points for each section) and a maximum of 2400 points (800 points for each section). Your total SAT score is derived from two separate processes: finding the raw score and the equated score.

    Raw score:

    The raw score of your SAT is determined through the following calculations:

    --One point is added to your score for every correct answer.

    --One-quarter of a point is subtracted from your score when a multiple-choice question is answered incorrectly.

    --No points are added or subtracted when an answer is left blank.

    --No points are added or subtracted when a student-produced answer in the Math section is incorrect.

    --One subsection of the SAT is not scored at all (this section will vary).

    Equated score:

    Once your raw SAT score has been calculated, this score is then adjusted according to a statistical analysis of various test editions. The degree of difficulty between different editions of the SAT is factored into your final score.

    The essay section of the SAT is scored by two professional high school or college-level teachers, each of whom assign a score of between 1 and 6 points. Their combined assessments result in a total essay score of between 2 and 12 points.

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    Interpreting Your SAT Scores

    When you receive your SAT scores, you will have the opportunity to compare your results with those of fellow test-takers on a statewide and nationwide level. These results are given in terms of average score and percentiles. You can then measure your individual results against the median SAT scores required by the colleges or universities of your interest.

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    Remember, if you aren't satisfied with your SAT scores or need to improve your scores due to college requirements, you can take the test again at a later date. Understanding an SAT test scores explanation can help you to determine which academic areas need further practice and study.

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