How is the SAT scored? - The SAT Score Range

The SAT score range, which has a history that might confuse you, has a revamped system that scores you out of 1600, compared with the earlier 2400 (till 2016). The key question for any student is what these numbers mean, and how they affect the admissions process.

THE BASIC SAT SCORING RANGE: 400-1600. This means that a student can score a maximum of 1600, and a minimum of 400 points out of an overall 1600. This is referred to as the Composite score, which comprises of both the Reading, Writing and Language and Mathematics sections.

Let us take a look at the section-wise split and what these numbers mean-

  • Mathematics

    The Math section is scored out of 800, in 10 point increments. The minimum score is 200, which makes for a range of 200-800.

  • The Reading and Writing Section

    This section can be a little tricky to understand. The scoring here starts off at 10, with 40 being the highest. Therefore, the range is 10-40. Increments are one-point. Using an Individualized Equating Process, these scores are then converted into an Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score. The scale here is again similar to the one for the Mathematics section, 200-800.

  • Optional Essay

    The Essay scores are not included in the score range. The scoring components of the essay consist of: Reading, Writing and Analysis. The range of scoring for the optional essay in the three different sub-sectional scoring components are: 2-8. You are scored across the 3 different areas with a maximum score of 8 | 8 | 8.

The SAT also consists of subscores and cross test scores. When you have specific skill sets, the college needs to know. Therefore, the SAT provides them with the subscores and cross-test scores, which indicates exactly that- knowledge about a specific subject. The better you are at something, the higher your score.


  1. Expression of ideas
  2. Standard English conventions
  3. Words in Context
  4. Command of Evidence


  1. Heart of Algebra
  2. Problem Solving and Data Analysis
  3. Passport to Advanced Math


Cross Test scores are those that measure your performance- history/social studies and science questions on the SAT sections, except the Essay.

  1. The analysis in History/ Social Studies
  2. Analysis in Science
SAT Section Score Range
Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) 200-800
Reading 10-40
Writing and Language 10-40
Expression of Ideas 1-15
Standard English Conventions 1-15
Words in Context 1-15
Command of Evidence 1-15
Math 200-800
Heart of Algebra 1-15
Problem Solving and Data Analysis 1-15
Passport to Advanced Math 1-15
Cross-Test Scores*
Analysis in History/Social Studies 10-40
Analysis in Science 10-40
TOTAL (EBRW + Math) 400-1600
Essay (Scored across 3 areas)  
Reading 2-8
Analysis 2-8
Writing 2-8



The median score of the SAT is 1000 if the two sections apart from the essay are considered. Considering a bell curve, this represents the average scores of all the test takers of the SAT. Before 2016, the SAT had a different range, and therefore, a different median score.

With the shift in the scores, 1000 is the average score of the test taker or speaking statistically, the scores of MOST test takers tend towards 1000! (This does not mean that the score is exactly 1000). A rough idea of the percentiles are given by the College Board:

This means that if you score around 1500, you are in the top 1% of the candidates who have taken the SAT. From the table, it is evident that if you are in the 50th percentile, you have scored approximately 1000 (1060- to be more precise).


Percentile EBRW Math TOTAL
99 750-800 770-800 1480-1600
90 670* 680* 1320-1330
75 610* 600* 1200*
50 530** 520** 1060*
25 460 450 920*
10 400 390 810*
1 200-330 200-320 400-680

Source: The College Board


SAT score ranges for colleges depend upon the intake-the students applying to the particular college. Each college has its own cut-off- the mean is determined by the number of students applying to the particular college, generally. (50% value= Total scores/Total no. of applicants)

The percentiles are determined by the bell curve which will then be different for every college. The 10th percentile value will be different for every college. You can search the values of these percentiles (and therefore, ranges) online.

A student must try to lie in the top 25%, which means that percentile of 75 is desirable. Apart from your SAT scores, your overall profile is also really important for your admissions process.


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