The SAT Scoring Scale

SAT scores are based on a student's percentile relative to other students taking the same test. The first step in calculating a student’s score on the SAT is to determine the raw score for each of the three sections. A correct answer on a multiple-choice question adds 1 point to the raw score, while an incorrect answer choice subtracts .25 points from the raw score. A correct answer on a Grid-In math question also adds 1 point to the raw score, but students are not penalized for incorrect answers on these questions. Questions left unanswered do not affect raw scores.

Students receive a single raw score on the Critical Reading and Math sections. A student’s raw score on the Writing section, however, has two components: an ordinary multiple-choice raw score and an essay raw score. The essay raw score is determined by combining the scores of two readers who grade the essay on a scale of 1 to 6, for an overall score of 2 to 12.

The raw score for each section is then converted into a scaled score - that is, a score on the 200 to 800 scale - for that section. The conversion process allows scorers to correct for minor variations in the difficulty of different test administrations so that the same level of ability should lead to the same scaled score on any test. Scaled scores are based on a bell curve, so that most scores fall in the 400 to 600 range. The curve below illustrates the distribution of scores:

SAT Scoring Scale

The same raw score of 40 on the math section would earn a scaled score of roughly 600. Looking at the graph above, one can see that a score of 600 places one ahead of about three quarters of the population.

The following is a list of raw scores and their corresponding scaled scores. In this chart, only the multiple-choice scaled score of the writing section is shown.

Raw Score Critical Reading
(67 Questions)
Math
(54 Questions)
Writing
(49 questions + essay)
67 800
65 740-800
60 660-760
55 630-710
54 620-700 800
50 600-660 690-770
49 590-650 680-740 78-80
45 560-620 630-690 70-80
40 530-590 580-660 64-74
35 500-560 540-620 59-69
30 470-530 510-570 54-64
25 440-500 470-530 49-59
20 410-470 430-490 45-55
15 380-440 400-460 40-50
10 340-400 340-420 35-45
5 270-370 280-380 30-40
0 200-290 210-310 24-34
-5 200-210 200-210 20-23

The following is a list of scaled scores and their corresponding percentiles from the Old SAT:

Scaled Score Verbal
Percentile
Math
Percentile
800 99+ 99
750 98 98
700 95 93
650 89 85
600 78 74
550 64 59
500 46 43
450 29 27
400 15 14
350 7 6
300 3 2
250 1 1
200 1 1