How to understand your SAT result and score chart

Updated on: Nov 9, 2022
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Understanding your SAT results after taking the exam is an important step in the college application process. Once you’ve taken the exam, you will receive a score between 400-1600 to show how you did on the test.

In this article, we explain what the different SAT Exam score ranges mean and we show you how to understand your results. Also, we provide some advice about the next steps once you receive your results.

SAT Results Explained

Generally, students receive SAT scores two weeks after completing the exam. You will receive a final score and some further information about how you performed on the test. Then, you can use this information to apply to colleges or to form your next steps.

Also, you can access the final results in your College Board online account, or you can contact the organisation directly. However, fees may apply if you need to contact the College Board by phone.

There is a lot of information in your SAT score report when it becomes available. Below, we explain how to understand your score report once you have it.

Score Report

Overall, your score report has various information that shows your total score, section scores, percentile performance and your score range.

Firstly, your overall score is displayed in bold at the top of your score report. This is the number between 400-1600.

You will also see your score percentile, which shows where your score ranks among other students taking the test.

However, one of the most important pieces of information on the SAT results is the score range section.

Here, you are given an average score on how you might perform if you did the exam multiple times. Often, colleges and universities look at the score range when considering an application rather than just your overall SAT score.

Section Scores

Your SAT score report will also show your section scores. The section scores have two results overall. The reading and writing scores are combined into one section and the Math score is separate. The two section scores are added together to give you a total SAT score.

Currently, the section scores are displayed on a graph that shows how prepared you are for college entrance. The graph shows what percentile you are in for each section when compared to other students who took the test.

Result Recipients

Also, the score recipients you choose during the registration process are shown on your score report. These recipients can include parents, carers, colleges or scholarship programs you applied to.

In this section, you can see whether your results have been sent to your recipients and the date the scores were sent. But, if the scores were not sent, a reason is provided about why they were not passed on.

How are Results Calculated?

The 400-1600 SAT score is calculated by adding your results on the math and reading and writing sections. In the two sections, you receive a range between 200-800 for each.

First, you receive a raw score for the reading, writing and language and math sections on the exam. These are then converted into the 200-800 score range.

For example, the total raw score for the math section would be 58, because this section has 58 marks available. Then, multiply this raw score by 20 to get your range between 200-800.

What is a Good SAT Score?

A good SAT score depends on what you want to achieve. For example, an SAT score that helped you secure a place at your preferred college or university can be good.

But, as a benchmark, the College Board explains that the average SAT score in 2019 was 1050. As a result, if you score 1050 or above, it is likely you can secure a place on most college courses. Although, some colleges have higher entrance requirement scores and others have lower scores.

Also, based on the 2019 SAT average scores, a result of 1350 or higher would put students in the top 10%. Again, some of the most selective and competitive colleges would require a 1350 score or more.

Improving SAT Results

However, if you did not get the score you wanted, or if you missed out on your preferred college or university, you can plan your next steps.

You have options where you can try to use your existing SAT score to enroll on a course. Or, you can plan to change your results.

We explore some of your possible options in the sections below.

Retake the Exam

Generally, most students applying for college take the SAT exam twice, once in junior year and again in senior year.

According to the College Board, students see big improvements between their first score and their second score. As a result, taking the test twice is a useful preparation technique.

However, you can also retake the SAT exam if you did not get the score you wanted the first time around. If you have set a target score for your preferred college, then taking the test again is perfectly acceptable.

But, you must consider the financial and time impacts of taking the SAT again. For instance, you will need to pay the $60 registration fee again. Also, you have to consider if you have time to improve your score before college applications close.

Set a New Target Score

Before retaking an exam, it is useful to set a new target score. You can use the entrance score needed from your preferred college and your projected score range to help find a target score.

By setting yourself a target to aim for, you can thoroughly prepare for the SAT exam and find areas to improve. For example, if your section score for reading and writing was lower, then you can plan practice to boost your score in this area.

Change College Application

Sometimes, students do not get the score they need for entrance into their first-choice college. But, you can still use your SAT results to apply to other colleges and courses that will suit your requirements.

Today, students can use online search tools to find colleges and their entrance requirements. This includes their accepted SAT scores for various courses.

As a result, you will still have options to change your preferred course and location if you have scored well on your SATs.

Also, it is important to remember that the SAT exam and its results are just one of several things colleges and universities look at when they consider an application.

Even if your score is slightly lower than you expected, admissions officers will still look at your application essay, previous grades and extracurricular activities.

How to Get a Good Score

When preparing for the SAT exam, you can use many online resources to help get ready for test day.

Currently, you can access eight practice papers to get used to the structure and content of the SATs. Also, study guides are available to guide you through the test requirements and help you get prepared for exam day.

SAT Paper Practice

Students can currently download a range of SAT papers to practice at home. One of the benefits of using past papers is to practice under exam conditions by using a timer for each section. Alternatively, you can go through the questions slowly to understand the test requirements and content.

When using practice papers, it is useful to have a pencil, eraser, timer and printer. However, you can view the papers online and view the score guides here too.

Study Guides

The College Board also has downloadable study guides for students and parents. These documents provide all the important information about the test sections and what to expect on test day.

Reading through the SAT guides is a good starting point to prepare for the SAT exam. Each document shows you example questions and guides you on how to answer and fill in your test paper.

In addition, these guides have useful tips and advice about how best to prepare for test day.

FAQs

1. How can I access my SAT score?

  1. Once scores are available, students can find them on the Student Score Report homepage, via the College Board website. 
  2. To access your score report, you will need a College Board account, which you will have set up when registering for the exam. 
  3. Once you have logged into the score report section, your results will be displayed. But, you can click on ‘My Score Reports’ to see a more detailed breakdown of the results.

2. What SAT score do I need for a scholarship?

As a benchmark, around 1200-1600 is a good score to be considered for a scholarship. Although, the SAT score is just one part of the scholarship application process for many colleges and schools.

3. How many times can you take the SAT?

Students can take the SAT exam as many times as they want. As a guide, many students take the test twice, once in junior year and once in senior year. This way, you can show improvements to your score over time. However, if you need to retake the exam to improve your score, you can do so as many times as necessary.

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