Getting a good score on the SAT is an important goal of many college bound high school students. That is why approximately two million high school students take the SAT every year. Below introduces the SAT and explains how to understand the scores.

### SAT Scoring

SAT scores start at 200 and peak at 800, but there is also a 2-12 sub-score for essay questions and a 20 to 80 score for multiple-choice writing questions. SAT scores allow college admissions staff to compare how a student performed with other students who took the test. SATs sometimes include a score range, which combines past SATs together in order to average out the student’s historic performance. A collective score range can be up to 40 points above or below a student’s actual recent score. An average score is usually around 500, which can also be expressed as a percentile of 47 percent. Percentile scores are based on the previous year’s graduating class.

### What is a Good Score on the SAT?

Most admissions counselors will automatically say that a score that helps the student get into college is a good score. However, keep in mind that an SAT score combines the three areas of math, writing and critical each. Each of these categories can earn the student up to 800 points. Therefore, the least amount of points that a student should earn to enter a community college in each category is 500 per each category, which would give them 1500 points. However, most colleges expect the average student to earn approximately 600 points in each category for a total score of 1800. Once a student reaches 700 per category, or a total of 2100, they will have no problem applying to the best colleges in the nation.

### How are SATs Scored?

According to the College Board, students earn one point for every correct question and lose a quarter of a point per every incorrect math or multiple choice questions. Zero points are subtracted for unanswered questions. Subject scoring gets more complicated. As before, students earn one point for every correct question, but will lose a half a point for every missed three-choice question, a third of a point for every missed four-choice question and a fourth of a point for every five-choice question. Students are not penalized for failing to answer questions. When statistically analyzing test scores, the College Board takes into account slight test variations through the non-scored section.

### How are Essay Questions Scored?

Essay questions are scored quite differently from multiple-choice questions. A score is six is the highest and indicates that the student effectively presented and developed their opinion through exceptional critical thinking skills and highly relevant examples and reasons. An essay score of five means that the essay is organized, coherent and well-written with only a few minor errors. A score of four indicates that the essay has minor quality problems with adequate idea organization and presentation. A score of three on the essay means that there are certain weaknesses, such as illogical inconsistencies, vague coherence and poor vocabulary word choice. A score of two or one mean that the essay is very poorly written and organized.

Clearly, SAT scores are important qualification and eligibility tools for college admissions departments. Getting a good score on the SAT will create more academic opportunities for students.

See also: What is a Good Score on the ACT?