How Does Section-wise Scoring Criteria Work On The SAT?

By Scott Fish on 15 August 23 Blog

The SAT comprises three sections: Reading, Writing and Language, and Math. The Reading and Writing and Language sections together contribute to the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score.

  • Reading Test: This section consists of 52 questions with a time limit of 65 minutes. The questions are all multiple-choice and based on reading passages.
  • Writing and Language Test: This section contains 44 multiple-choice questions based on passages, to be answered within a 35-minute time limit.
  • Math Test: This section consists of 58 questions divided into two portions — one allowing calculator use and the other not. The time allocation is 80 minutes in total.

Each of these sections is scored separately. The raw score in the Reading and Writing and Language tests is calculated based on the number of correct answers, and these raw scores are converted to scaled scores via a mathematical process called equating. The scaled scores from each test are combined and multiplied by 10 to get the final Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score.

The Math section (both portions) also follows the same process, resulting in the Math section score. Adding these two section scores together gives the final SAT score.

Take the time to understand the scoring criteria for each section. It helps to have targets for each section and understand areas of strength and weakness.

Total and Composite Scores On The SAT

After completing the SAT, you receive a total score that ranges between 400 and 1600 points. This total score is a combination of your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math section scores, each ranging from 200-800 points.

You also receive sub-scores and cross-test scores that indicate your performance in specific subjects and skill areas. While these are not included in your total SAT score, they give you valuable feedback on areas to improve upon for future test prep and retakes.

Despite this detailed feedback, remember that colleges consider your total score first and foremost when reviewing your application. Thus, your primary focus when studying for the SAT should be to work towards maximizing this total score.

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