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Ronke Aderonmu

Interpreting Your SAT Scores

Note: This post has been updated for the new SAT beginning in March 2016.

You’ve taken your SAT, you’ve waited the 3 long weeks it takes to receive your score, and you’ve logged into your College Board account to see how you performed on the test. But as you scroll through the score report, words like “score range” and “national percentile” jump out at you, and suddenly, your score report now seems like an overwhelming foreign language essay.

Interpreting Your SAT Scores Infographic

The good news is you don’t have to panic any more, with the help of our new SAT Scores infographic!

Scroll through the infographic below for help with understanding your SAT score:


(Click the image to open the infographic in a new page and zoom in/out!)

Calculating SAT Scores – Your raw SAT score

Each section of the SAT is graded on a 200-800 point scale–since there are 2 section scores on the test (Evidence Based Reading and Writing and Math, your total SAT score is out of 1600. You are penalized for wrong answers on the test though, so you won’t be able to figure out your score by just adding up everything you answered right.

Instead, here’s how you would calculate your raw score:

    (# correct) – (# incorrect)(.25)

After your raw score for each section of the SAT is calculated, the College Board uses statistical analysis to “equate” your raw score into your final score in the 200-800 range.

SAT Score Range

You’ll find this number on your SAT score report–what exactly is it? Your SAT score range is the set of numbers about 30 points above and below your final score. For example, say you scored 500 on the Reading and Writing portion of the test–in that case, your score range is around 470-530.

Why does the range of your score matter? Well, the College Board uses this number as an estimate of how your scores might vary if you took the SAT again. This score range is sent to colleges along with your raw score, and the College Board emphasizes it as an indicator, rather than an exact measure, of intelligence.

SAT Score Percentiles

The other potentially confusing statistic on your SAT score report is the “National Percentile”: that is the percentage of people in the country who you scored above. For example, if you’re in the 50th percentile in math, that would mean you scored higher than 50% of people who took the test in your country.

The national percentile statistic is helpful because it allows you to:

  • compare your SAT scores to those of other test takers
  • see how “good” your score really is, at least compared to others



See? The SAT score report wasn’t nearly as scary as you thought!

Now that you’ve mastered the raw score, equating, score range and national percentile terms, you’re ready to log back in to your College Board account and give that score report one more try!

If you scored below your desired score and want to give the test another try, then let us help you! Sign up for our Magoosh SAT prep and improve your scores. 🙂

P.S. If you have any questions or comments about this infographic, please comment below to let us know!


P.S. Ready to get your highest SAT score? Start here.
About Ronke Aderonmu

Ronke helps Magoosh build relationships with anyone and everyone in the education space. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a major in Interdisciplinary Studies and a minor in Math and Science Education. The way to her heart is a good Chuck Norris joke or two, along with a homemade meal of Korean or Cajun goodness.

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