Understanding the New SAT Scoring System

The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) is a widely used standardized test for college admissions in the United States. In 2016, the College Board introduced a new SAT scoring system, departing from the previous 2400-point scale to a 1600-point scale. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the nuances of the new SAT scoring system, understanding its components, interpretation, and implications for test-takers.

 Overview of the New SAT Scoring System

 1. Total Score:

   - The total score on the new SAT is on a 1600-point scale, combining the scores from the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and Math sections.

   - The EBRW and Math sections are each scored on a scale of 200 to 800.

 2. Subscores:

   - In addition to the total score, students receive subscores for the Reading, Writing and Language, and Math sections.

   - Subscores provide detailed insights into specific skill areas, aiding in targeted improvement.

 3. Essay (Optional):

   - The SAT includes an optional Essay section, scored separately.

   - The Essay is scored on a scale of 6 to 24, with scores for Reading, Analysis, and Writing evaluated.

 4. Scoring Timeline:

   - Scores are typically available online about two weeks after the test date.

   - Students can access their scores through the College Board's online platform.

 Understanding the Components of the New SAT Scoring System

 1. Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW):

   - Reading (10–40): This score reflects your performance in the Reading section, assessing your ability to understand and analyze written passages.

   - Writing and Language (10–40): This score evaluates your skills in language use, expression, and grammatical conventions.

 2. Math:

   - Math (10–40): The Math section assesses your mathematical reasoning and problem-solving skills.

   - The Math score combines the results from two Math sub-sections, one allowing calculator use and the other without.

 3. Total Score:

   - The total score is the sum of the EBRW and Math scores, each on a 200–800 scale.

 4. Essay:

   - The optional Essay section is scored separately.

   - Scores range from 6 to 24, with subscores for Reading, Analysis, and Writing.

 5. Cross-Test Scores:

   - Cross-test scores provide insights into your performance across different content areas, such as Analysis in History/Social Studies and Analysis in Science.

 6. Subscores:

   - Subscores break down your performance into specific skill areas within each section, helping identify strengths and areas for improvement.

 Implications for Test-Takers

 1. Targeted Preparation:

   - Understanding the breakdown of scores allows for targeted preparation. Focus on specific skill areas and content that contribute to subscores.

 2. Strategic Approach:

   - With subscores and cross-test scores, test-takers can adopt a strategic approach to preparation, addressing weaknesses and building on strengths.

 3. Optional Essay Consideration:

   - Test-takers should consider the Essay's optional nature based on college admissions requirements. Some colleges may require or recommend the Essay.

 4. Interpretation for Colleges:

   - Colleges interpret SAT scores in the context of the new scoring system. Understanding the components allows colleges to assess a student's academic strengths comprehensively.

 5. Holistic Evaluation:

   - The new SAT scoring system supports a more holistic evaluation of a student's abilities, encompassing a range of skills beyond just content knowledge.

 6. Comparison with ACT Scores:

   - Test-takers considering both the SAT and ACT should be aware of the differences in scoring scales and how to compare scores effectively.

 Tips for Maximizing Scores

 1. Practice Regularly:

   - Consistent practice with official SAT materials helps build familiarity with the test format and types of questions.

 2. Identify Weaknesses:

   - Regular practice tests can help identify specific weaknesses in reading, writing, and math skills.

 3. Utilize Official Resources:

   - The College Board provides official SAT practice materials, including practice tests and questions. Utilize these resources for effective preparation.

 4. Essay Preparation:

   - If opting for the Essay section, practice constructing well-organized and evidence-supported essays. Familiarize yourself with the scoring rubric.

 5. Time Management:

   - Develop effective time management strategies, especially given the time constraints in each section.

 6. Review Mistakes:

   - Reviewing incorrect answers is crucial for learning from mistakes and avoiding similar errors in the future.

 7. Seek Additional Support:

   - If needed, consider seeking additional support through tutoring or online resources to strengthen specific skills.


Navigating the new SAT scoring system requires a comprehensive understanding of its components and implications for college admissions. By breaking down the scores into specific sections, subscores, and optional components, test-takers can approach preparation strategically. Maximizing performance on the SAT involves targeted preparation, effective time management, and utilizing official resources. Ultimately, a well-informed and strategic approach to the SAT can contribute significantly to a successful college admissions journey. Good luck!