Understanding the New SAT Scoring System: What You Need to Know

In recent years, the SAT exam underwent significant changes, including revisions to its scoring system. Understanding the new SAT scoring system is essential for students aiming to excel in this standardized test. In this guide, we will delve into the intricacies of the new SAT scoring system, highlighting key changes and providing insights to help students navigate this aspect of their SAT preparation effectively.

1. The Two Main Sections:

The SAT consists of two main sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and Math. Each section is scored separately, with scores ranging from 200 to 800 points. The total SAT score is the sum of the EBRW and Math scores, yielding a total score between 400 and 1600 points.

2. Subscores and Cross-Test Scores:

In addition to the main section scores, the SAT provides subscores and cross-test scores to offer more detailed insights into students' performance. Subscores reflect performance in specific areas within each section, such as reading, writing and language, and math. Cross-test scores assess students' ability to analyze and apply skills across different subject areas, such as analysis in science and analysis in history/social studies.

3. The Essay (Optional):

The SAT includes an optional Essay section, which is scored separately from the main sections. The SAT Essay is scored on three dimensions: Reading, Analysis, and Writing. Each dimension receives a score ranging from 2 to 8 points. The Essay score does not contribute to the total SAT score but provides additional information about students' writing abilities.

4. Scoring Methodology:

The new SAT scoring system employs a process called equating to ensure fairness and consistency across different test administrations. Equating adjusts scores to account for variations in difficulty between different test versions, ensuring that scores accurately reflect students' abilities rather than differences in test difficulty.

5. Score Reporting:

SAT scores are typically available to students approximately two to three weeks after the test date. Scores are accessible online through the College Board website. Students can choose to send their scores to colleges and universities of their choice through the College Board's Score Choice feature. Score reports include detailed breakdowns of section scores, subscores, cross-test scores, and the optional Essay score.

6. Understanding Percentiles:

Percentiles provide context for interpreting SAT scores by comparing students' performance to that of other test-takers. A percentile rank indicates the percentage of students who scored lower than a particular score. For example, a score in the 75th percentile means that the student performed better than 75% of test-takers.

7. Strategies for Improving Scores:

To improve SAT scores, students should focus on developing strong foundational skills in reading, writing, and math. Regular practice with official SAT practice tests and review of content areas can help students become familiar with the test format, question types, and time constraints. Additionally, seeking guidance from teachers, tutors, or test prep resources can provide valuable insights and strategies for improving performance.


Understanding the new SAT scoring system is essential for students preparing to take this standardized test. By familiarizing themselves with the scoring structure, interpreting score reports accurately, and implementing effective strategies for improvement, students can maximize their chances of success on the SAT and achieve their academic goals. With diligence, perseverance, and strategic preparation, students can approach the SAT with confidence and achieve their desired scores.