The SAT Subject Test score range is between 200 and 800 for all tests, much like a single section on the SAT. The Subject Test score report also includes a personal score range for the Subject Test taker.
Why is this the SAT Subject Test score range?
This is most likely because the College Board wanted to be consistent with their flagship test, the SAT. If you’re wondering how the College Board came up with this score range in the first place, it really all has to do with statistics.
If that was your reaction, you can skip the rest of this section and move on the next one (no hard feelings at all). But if you’re a stats fan, then you probably already know or would be interested to know that the scoring is the way it is to match the normal distribution curve. The score of 500 is centered around the mean with each standard deviation at 100 points. If you look at the data for SAT Subject Tests, you’ll see that this isn’t really the case, which is why the scoring for the Subject Tests is probably more for the sake of consistency.
How SAT subject tests are scored
Subject tests are scored by first determining a raw score that is then scaled to a score between 200 and 800. Unlike the new SAT, SAT Subject Tests still have a penalty for wrong answers (but no penalty for unanswered questions). This means that the raw score is determined by the amount of questions correct minus a quarter of the incorrect questions. So, say you took the SAT Literature Subject Test. A perfect raw score is 60 because there are 60 questions. But if you got 55 questions right, 4 questions wrong, and 1 question that you didn’t answer, your raw score would look like this: 55 – (4/4) = 54.
Language Test subscores
Language tests with Listening are the only SAT Subject tests that have subscores. The raw score from each section in a listening test is converted to a subscore, which ranges between 20 and 80. These subscores are used to determine the final score. (Note that Latin, Modern Hebrew, and Italian don’t have Listening tests, so you don’t have to worry about subscores for them.)
The French, German, and Spanish Subject Tests with Listening have two subscores, one for listening and one for reading. For these tests, the reading subscore is weighted twice as much as the listening subscore. This is because the reading section counts for twice as much of the exam as the listening section for these tests. The Korean, Chinese, and Japanese have three subscores: listening, reading, and usage. For these tests, all of the scores are weighted equally because they make up equal parts of the exam.
Your personal score range
Much like the typical SAT, your SAT Subject Test report will also have a personalized score range that is determined by the subject test score. The reasoning behind the personal score range is that one score does not give an accurate picture of a student’s true ability because there are a variety of factors beyond the student’s control that can influence one given score. Therefore, a score range is to encourage colleges to think of your score as an estimate of your true ability rather than an absolute measure.
Usually, the personal SAT Subject Test score range is determined by 30 points of your received score in either direction. So, if you got a 640 on your subject test, your personal score range is 610 and 670, meaning that a measure of your true natural ability falls in that range.
Last note about SAT Subject Test score range
Just because all subject tests have the same score range, you might be wondering if a score on one test is comparable the same score on another test (for example, if an 800 on the Physics Test is just as impressive as an 800 on the Math 2 Test). The College Board says that it’s tough to compare since each test has a unique group of test takers seeking to showcase different strengths. Colleges might also have different cut-off scores and their own criteria for evaluation based on the Subject Test.