Stuck in black and white? Shmoop can color in your SAT skills.

Why should I care?

A point not earned is still better than a quarter point lost.

More questions?

SAT Average scores

Share this page:

SAT Scores

How is the SAT Scored?

First, College Board calculates your raw score:

  • For each question you get right, you earn 1 point. Huzzah.
  • For each question you get wrong, you lose 1/4 point. Curses.
  • For each question you leave blank, nothing happens. But, an angel loses her wings.

You attack the exam with a No. 2 pencil in hand. After turning in your papers, a machine scans all of your bubbled answers and determines how many questions you got right and how many you got wrong. Your total score is calculated, minus the quarter-point off for each missed question.

There are two exceptions when it comes to grading:

  1. The Grid-In questions in Math (aka Student-Produced Responses). For those, there is no penalty for guessing.
  2. The Essay, which is graded on a scoring scale of 2-12. Watch Out: You'll get a big fat zero on the essay if you do any of the following: don't write an essay, write an essay on a different topic, write so sloppily that no one can read your essay, or write in pen. (They're not just being obnoxious by insisting you write in pencil; their scanners can't pick up on ink, so your essay would show up blank to the readers.)

After everything is counted, a magical score genie works with College Board to convert your raw score into a scaled score, meaning that they compare your performance relative to everyone else who took the same test. The scaled score ranges between 200-800 in each of the three subject areas: math, critical reading, and writing. Note that "niceness" is not a category here. You are in it to win it. Take no prisoners, and all that chest-pounding ape stuff.

Your final combined SAT score will range between 600-2400. In 2009, the average scores earned by college-bound seniors taking the test were 501 in reading, 515 in math, and 493 in writing. You are going to go above and beyond.

Ready to see how awesome Shmoop is and why
everybody is talking about us?

*SAT is a registered trademark of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and do not endorse, this product.