Why should I care?
A point not earned is still better than a quarter point lost.
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:
- The Grid-In questions in Math (aka Student-Produced Responses). For those, there is no penalty for guessing.
- 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.