How to Calculate SAT Scores: 4-Step Guide | BestColleges (2024)

Knowing how to calculate SAT scores can help you determine what to focus on in your prep and how many questions you can afford to miss on test day.

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Updated on November 7, 2022

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By

Lauren MackRead Full Bio

Contributing Writer

Lauren Mack is a journalist whose work has appeared in 100+ publications, including The Daily Meal, Culture Trip, Cheapflights.com, Seeker, Newsweek International, ThoughtCo, and more. Lauren graduated with a master of science in journalism from Colu...

Edited by

Hannah MunizRead Full Bio

Managing Editor

Hannah Muniz is a managing editor with BestColleges, specializing in college planning, test prep, student life, and sponsored content. She previously worked as a freelance writer, composing articles on the SAT/ACT, higher education, language learning...

Updated on November 7, 2022

Learn more about our editorial process

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  • The SAT is a popular standardized entrance exam that many U.S. colleges use to evaluate applicants.
  • The exam measures your math, reading, and writing skills and your overall readiness for college.
  • Being able to calculate your SAT score can help you pinpoint your weaknesses.
  • Use SAT score charts to estimate how many questions you can afford to miss on test day.

Many U.S. colleges and universities use SAT scores to help make admission decisions. According to the College Board, about 1.5 million high school students in the class of 2021 took the SAT at least once.

If you're planning to take the SAT, it's important you know how SAT scoring works. This way you'll get a better idea of how many questions you can miss on test day and where your biggest strengths and weaknesses are.

Read on for our easy four-step SAT score calculator.

How Is the SAT Scored?

The total SAT score range is 400-1600. This means the lowest SAT score you can get is a 400, while the highest SAT score possible is a 1600. But how does the College Board calculate these scores exactly?

First, the College Board looks at your raw scores, that is, the number of questions you answered correctly. You'll get 1 point for each correct answer. There's no penalty for incorrect answers.

Next, the College Board converts your raw scores for each SAT section — Math, Reading, and Writing and Language — into scaled test scores, which use a scale of 1-40. These conversions are done using a special equating process that accounts for differences among tests. Test scores are then converted into section scores on a scale of 200-800.

At this point, your Reading and Writing scores are combined to give you a single Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) section score out of 800. You'll also get a Math section score out of 800.

Your total score is simply the sum of your EBRW and Math section scores.

What Are SAT Subscores and Cross-Test Scores?

In addition to test, section, and total SAT scores, your SAT score report will include subscores and cross-test scores.

Subscores, which use a scale of 1-15, measure your performance in key skills areas and indicate how well you performed on specific question types. Here are the subscores and what SAT sections they appear on:

  • Command of Evidence (Reading, Writing)
  • Words in Context (Reading, Writing)
  • Expression of Ideas (Writing)
  • Standard English Conventions (Writing)
  • Heart of Algebra (Math)
  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis (Math)
  • Passport to Advanced Math (Math)

Cross-test scores, which use a scale of 10-40, measure your performance across all SAT sections on questions that touch on themes of social studies and science. They are called:

  • Analysis in History/Social Studies
  • Analysis in Science

How to Calculate Your SAT Score in 4 Simple Steps

Finding your SAT scores is a complex process. Follow these four steps to calculate your SAT scores on official practice tests.

Step 1: Find Your Raw Score for Each Section

The first step is to find your raw scores for Math, Reading, and Writing. As a reminder, your raw score equals the number of questions you answered correctly on each SAT section.

Give yourself 1 point for each correct answer. Remember there's no penalty for unanswered or incorrect questions, so you should always put something down!

Example: Raj took the College Board's SAT Practice Test #10. Using his test's scoring guide, he adds up the number of questions he got right. Raj answered 28 questions correctly on Reading, 26 on Writing, and 30 on Math (including both the Math — No Calculator and Math — Calculator subsections).

Step 2: Determine Your Math Section Score

Next, take your raw Math score and convert it into a section score that ranges from 200-800. To carry out the conversion, you must use the conversion table that comes with your practice test.

If your practice test didn't come with an SAT scoring chart, you can use the sample chart below to estimate your Math section score.

Example: Raj looks at the table labeled "Raw Score Conversion Table 1: Section and Test Scores" on page 8 of Scoring Your SAT Practice Test #10. He earned a raw score of 30 on the Math test, which, according to the table, comes out to a section score of 520.

Step 3: Determine Your Reading and Writing Scores

Once you've got your SAT Math score, it's time to calculate your EBRW score, which is a combination of your Reading and Writing scores.

To find this, you must first take your raw scores for the Reading and Writing tests and convert them to individual test scores on a scale of 10-40 using your practice test's conversion table.

Next, add your Reading and Writing test scores together. You'll get a number between 20 and 80.

Finally, multiply this sum by 10 to get your EBRW section score out of 800.

Example: According to the SAT score chart that came with Raj's practice test, a 28 raw Reading score equals a 25 test score, and a 26 raw Writing score equals a 24 test score. He adds these two test scores together to get 49. Then, he multiplies 49 by 10 — this gives him an EBRW section score of 490.

Step 4: Add Together Your Section Scores

The last step is to find your total SAT score out of 1600, which is the score many colleges look at. To do this, simply add together your final section scores for Math and EBRW.

Example: Raj earned a Math section score of 520 and an EBRW section score of 490. He adds these two together, giving him a total SAT score of 1010. This score is right around the median.

How Many Questions Can You Miss on the SAT?

Each SAT is different, with some versions considered slightly easier or harder than others. The equating process that the College Board uses is a way to equalize scores so that there's no advantage to taking the SAT on one test date versus on another.

This is why each test date and practice exam uses a unique SAT scoring chart.

The following SAT score chart can help you calculate scores and estimate how many questions you can miss and still hit your target score. Score ranges were determined by combining the section and test scores provided in all eight official SAT practice test scoring tables.

Note that this table offers a broad estimate of how raw scores might translate into section and test scores. Some practice exams will be more difficult than others, resulting in different score conversions between raw scores and section/test scores.

For the most accurate conversions, refer to the scoring table that comes with your SAT practice test. You can find official SAT practice tests and their scoring tables at the College Board.

SAT Scoring Chart
Raw Score/Number of Correct AnswersMath Section ScoreReading Test ScoreWriting and Language Test Score
02001010
1200-2101010
2210-2201010
3220-24010-1110-11
4230-25011-1211-12
5250-27011-1312-13
6270-29012-1412-14
7280-30013-1513-15
8300-32014-1514-15
9310-34014-1615-16
10320-35015-1715-17
11340-36016-1716-18
12350-38016-1817-19
13360-39017-1917-19
14370-40017-1918-20
15380-42018-2018-21
16390-43018-2118-22
17400-44019-2119-22
18410-45020-2219-23
19420-46020-2220-24
20430-47021-2320-24
21440-48021-2421-25
22450-49022-2421-25
23460-50022-2522-26
24470-51023-2523-26
25480-52023-2623-27
26490-53024-2624-27
27500-54024-2724-28
28500-55025-2725-29
29510-56025-2825-29
30520-57026-2826-30
31520-58026-2927-30
32530-58027-2927-31
33540-59028-2928-32
34540-60028-3029-33
35550-61029-3029-33
36560-62029-3130-34
37570-63029-3131-34
38580-63030-3231-35
39580-64030-3232-36
40590-65031-3333-37
41600-66031-3334-38
42610-66032-3436-39
43610-67032-3538-40
44620-68033-3540
45630-68033-36
46640-69034-37
47650-70035-37
48660-71036-38
49670-73036-38
50680-74037-39
51690-75039-40
52700-77040
53710-780
54730-790

As you can see with the above SAT scoring chart, it's possible to get some questions wrong and still earn the max SAT score. Generally speaking, you can miss 1-2 questions on each section and still get a perfect 1600.

How many questions you can miss on each section and still hit your target score will depend on your exam's difficulty level and how raw scores convert into scaled scores for that particular test. It will also depend on your subject strengths.

If, for example, you wanted to earn a 1200 overall and you're especially strong in math, you might aim for the following section/test scores:

  • Math: 700 (miss at most around 11 questions)
  • Reading: 25 (miss at most around 29 questions)
  • Writing: 25 (miss at most around 23 questions)

Frequently Asked Questions About SAT Scoring

Why do SAT score conversions differ for each test?

Each SAT exam contains different questions, making some tests slightly more difficult than others. Converting raw scores into scaled scores is how the College Board balances out these variations in difficulty.

So on more challenging exams, you'd need to answer fewer questions correctly to earn a high scaled score out of 800. This means you'll always have the same chance at earning a certain score on the SAT, regardless of when you take the test.

What is a good SAT score?

What's considered a good SAT score varies depending on factors like which colleges you're applying to and how other test-takers perform. In general, though, it's best to aim for the 75th percentile, or at least a 1200. This should make you a competitive candidate for many colleges.

The more competitive and selective the college you want to attend, the higher the SAT score you'll likely need to get. A great SAT score can significantly raise your college admission chances.

Where can you find high-quality SAT practice tests?

By far the best place to look for free SAT practice tests is the College Board. Official test questions are most similar to those you'll see on test day and therefore provide you with the best possible practice.

You can also find realistic practice tests created by popular test prep companies online. Other SAT prep resources you can use include top-rated SAT prep books and online prep classes.

How to Calculate SAT Scores: 4-Step Guide | BestColleges (2024)
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