Marking SAT Answers and SAT Scores

How is the SAT scored – a mark out of 100?

No. All 3 sections are marked and statistically scaled out of 800 – for all 3 individual sections: 2,400 in total) Every correct answer receives 1 mark (whether the question is regarded as ‘easy', of ‘medium difficulty', or ‘hard'). A penalty of ¼ point is deducted for incorrect answers. A ‘nil attempt' attracts neither a mark nor any penalty. The lowest scaled score becomes 200; the highest becomes 800.

How Does the SAT Program Score the Test

1. First, they calculate your raw scores

Your raw scores are calculated for each section based on the number of questions you got correct or incorrect, or that you omitted.

SAT Scoring

Correct AnswersIncorrect AnswersOmitted
+1 point for questions you get correct-1/4 point subtracted for incorrect multiple-choice
0 points subtracted for incorrect student-produced response (math section)
0 points subtracted for questions you don't answer

2. Then they "equate" them

They do a statistical analysis to make sure the test is an accurate representation of your skills. The unscored section of the test also helps us ensure the test is fair. Questions in the unscored section are not factored into your SAT score.

In their statistical analysis, equating adjusts for slight differences in difficulty between test editions and ensures that a student's score of, say, 450 on one edition of a test reflects the same ability as a score of 450 on another edition of the test. Equating also ensures that a student's score does not depend on how well others did on the same edition of the test.

Every SAT includes a 25-minute section, which doesn't count toward your final score. It may be a critical reading, mathematics, or multiple-choice writing section.

They do this because it helps us assess questions for next year's test, and it ensures that the SAT accurately reflects your skills. Also, the unscored section helps us account for minor differences in difficulty across all the different forms of the test.

3. That gives you a final score

Your raw score is then converted to a scaled score (reported on a 200-800 scale) by a statistical process called equating. Equating ensures that the different forms of the test or the level of ability of the students with whom you are tested do not affect your score. Equating makes it possible to make comparisons among test takers who take different editions of the test across different administrations.


How is the essay scored?

The essay is scored holistically, for the total impression it makes. Holistic scoring recognizes that the real merit of a piece of writing cannot be determined simply by adding together values assigned to separate factors such as development, word choice, organization and adherence to the conventions of written English. It is how these separate factors blend and become the whole that is important.

The essay is scored by two readers who independently review and score each essay on a scale of 1 to 6. The two scores are added together for a total score of 2 to 12. If the readers' scores vary by more than one point, a third reader, who is a scoring leader, scores the essay.

Essay readers hold a bachelor's degree or higher and currently teach, or have recently taught, a high school or college-level course that requires a substantial amount of writing. All readers complete a rigorous training course that familiarizes them with the principles of holistic scoring and teaches them to evaluate essays according to agreed-upon standards.

Are wrong answers penalised?

A correct answer receives 1 mark; an incorrect answer (except in the Maths Student-Produced Response section) attracts a penalty of ¼ mark.

Is it possible to achieve a perfect SAT score?

 Number of Students Who Achieved Highest Possible Score on the SAT
(by subsection and entire test)
 Total SAT Takers800 Critical Reading800 Mathematics800 WritingEntire Test 2400
2011Total1,647,1238,11413,8036,422(0.023%) 384
2010Total1,597,3298,84812,5175,026(0.024%) 384
2009Total1,573,1108,98910,8835,026(0.019%) 303
2008Total1,563,2728,0089,8565,391(0.019%) 297
2007Total1,534,4578,69310,2934,480(0.018%) 273

Are my SAT scores good enough?

SAT scores for the Ivy League Colleges

SAT Scores
U Penn660760690780680770

ACT scores for the Ivy League Colleges

ACT Scores
U Penn303431352934

Source: Allen Grove College Admissions Guide