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# Scoring at the SAT

By John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Dec 17, 2011

No, I'm not talking about that kind of scoring.  I'm talking academics here, or at least the SAT's version of academics.  The maximum SAT score is 2,400 (with a top score of 800 on each of the three main sections: Critical Reading, Writing, and Math).

You get one point for each correct answer you supply on the SAT, and for everything but the essay and math grid-ins, you lose ¼ point for each incorrect answer.  (If you make a mistake on a grid-in, you receive no points but nothing is deducted).  Two (severely underpaid) English teachers who have undergone special training in SAT scoring read the essay.  Each reader awards it 1 to 6 points.  If the readers disagree by more than one point, which happens in about 6 percent of the essays, a third super-expert weighs in.  When you get your Writing score, you see a 20 to 80 score for the multiple-choice questions and an essay subscore of 2 to 12. The multiple-choice score counts of 70 percent of your total Writing score, and the essay for 30 percent.

The SAT isn't curved, but raw scores are converted to the 200 to 800 format.  You receive 200 just for showing up, and an 800 - the hightest score - can be achieved even if you've made a few errors.  Hod did the test makers settle upon this score range?  I have no idea!

TIP: To guess or not to guess, that is the question.  The answer is a definite maybe.  On the grid-in, always guess because there is no penalty for a wrong answer.  If you have no clue on the grid-in, bubble in your birthday or the number of cavities you had during your last checkup.  For the other five-answer, multiple-choice questions, try to eliminate obviously wrong answers.  If you can dump one, you have a one in four chance of guessing correctly.  Go for it.  If you can't eliminate anything, leave the question blank.  Always guess if you can eliminate two of the five choices because the odds favor you.  Students who make this sort of educated guess usually score higher on the SAT than they would have if they'd left more blanks.