Offered by the College Board, SAT is an important standardised assessment exam that you must take if you are seeking admission in a college in USA or Canada. In 2018, over 2.1 million students took the new SAT exam and scored a mean of 1068 out of 1600. To prepare better and perform well, you can opt to answer a preliminary-SAT exam too.
Here’s all you need to know about your SAT and PSAT scores and what they mean.
How to approach the SAT: Structure and score ranges
SAT seeks to comprehensively evaluate your reading, writing and arithmetic skills and is divided into three simple sections: Reading Test, Writing and Language Test and Math Test. The 3-hour test consists of 154 questions and a has a maximum score of 1600. SAT gives admissions officers an indication of your preparedness for college education.
The questions are designed to gain insights into your academic progress in a holistic manner. For instance, you might be asked to explain the meaning of particular words in the given context. Or, a question will be posed in such a way that answering it demands scrutinising text.
While the evidence-based reading and writing tests measure your comprehension of standard English and grammar, the Math section tests your grasp of algebra, geometry and problem-solving. SAT also offers you an optional 50-minute essay test which evaluates skills like analysis, reading and writing. Finally, command of history/social studies, science, and aptitude for subjects like advanced Math are assessed through cross-test scores and subscores.
Here’s a look at the score range.
How to understand your SAT report?
The SAT report is designed to give insights into your academic progress from a variety of angles. There is no ‘passing score’, but mean scores, percentiles and benchmarks are all important indicators of your readiness to tackle challenges at college.
Total Score: This is the sum of the two section scores. The score range is 400–1600.
Section scores: Scores of both the Math and the Evidence-based Reading and Writing sections are 200–800. To get this number your raw data, which is the number of questions you have answered correctly, is scaled by a process called equating. This process takes into consideration the variations in test difficulty across different dates.
Percentiles: SAT results represent a normal distribution curve. This means that very few get very high or very low results. Most score something that lies along the centre of the bell curve. Similarly, percentile indicates how you are placed as compared to everyone else. For example, if your score is in the 80th percentile, then, 80% of the students’ scores were lower than yours and 20% scored higher.
Benchmarks: The green, yellow, red colour-coded symbols indicate how your scores match-up with the SAT/ grade-level benchmark. For example, if you have a green benchmark in Math, then there is a 75% chance you will get grade C or higher in Semester I of college.
How to verify, cancel and send your score?
Score verification is recommended if your result is greatly different from what you expected it to be, or if your essay is illegible in your online report. You can request verification up to 5 months after your test day by filling out a verification form.
If you haven’t given the SAT your best shot and don’t want the scores to remain on your SAT history, you can request cancellation by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on the Thursday after the test.
Some colleges won’t accept online copies of your report, but only ones officially sent by the College Board. Scores are sent at a fee, unless you avail of a SAT waiver fee. You can send 4 free scores within 9 days of taking the test.
How to know which colleges you’re headed for?
Colleges will not give you a specific SAT cut-off mark. However, checking the colleges’ past admission statistics will help assess your chances of getting in. One good indicator is where you fall on the percentile graph. The college’s middle-50% scores is what you should look at.
For instance, for the class of 2022, Stanford University’s middle-50% scores ranged from 1420 to 1570. This means that out of 2,000 freshmen, 1,000 had scores ranging from 1420 to 1570. In 2018, 95% of all students who took the SAT scored below 1420. This shows just how competitive it is to get into Stanford!
According to a statistic, average SAT scores at MIT, Harvard and UCLA stand at 1528, 1520 and 1365 respectively.
How to prepare for SAT: What your PSAT scores mean
Considering just how competitive the test is, you might want to take a SAT practice test. Offered by the College Board, Preliminary-SAT or PSAT is an exam that puts you on track to get impressive SAT results. Apart from PSAT, the College Board offers PSAT 8/9 and PSAT 10 to help you prepare through your school years. PSAT 8/9 is designed for 8th and 9th graders and assess similar skill sets as SAT. Likewise PSAT 10 is designed for sophomores.
PSAT scoring is very similar to an actual SAT, except that PSAT has a total score range of 320–1520 as opposed to 400–1600. Paying attention to your PSAT scores, percentiles and benchmarks helps you work on areas of weakness and make an assessment of the colleges you are currently on track for.
Getting a good SAT score is just one part of your overseas application. Make sure to back it up with good grades and a compelling student CV, supporting essay, statement of purpose and letters of recommendation. Reach out to our experts for guidance on how to craft applications that get noticed.