The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is an examination taken by high school students, most often in their junior year, who are interested in applying to college. The examination is developed and administered by the College Board, a non-profit organization with a mission to connect students with the opportunity to go to college and help them achieve success once they are there. Most colleges and universities use the SAT score as part of their evaluation of admission applications.
The SAT tests reading, writing and mathematics skills. The test includes reading passages and completing sentences, a short essay, multiple-choice questions on proper grammar and usage, and multiple-choice questions on a variety of math topics including algebra, geometry, and statistics. The test allows three hours and forty-five minutes for completion. If a student is dissatisfied with the first score he receives, he may sign up to repeat the SAT on a subsequent test date.
The SAT is scored based on actual answers. There is no score for unanswered questions. One point is awarded for each correct answer and one quarter of a point is subtracted for each incorrect answer on multiple-choice questions. There is one section of the test that is not scored. This section is used to evaluate the score for an individual and assure that the difficulty of the particular edition of the test that each individual takes is equivalent to other test editions.
The scores are added and converted into a raw score. This raw score is compared to all the other individuals taking the test in the same time period. From this data, a percentile is developed for each test result. If a student scores in the 75th percentile, this means she has scored better than 75% of her peers and is in the top 25% of test takers for a specific test period.
The percentile scores are converted into final scores for each section of the test ranging from 200 to 800. The writing section is further scored for the essay in a range from 2 to 12 and for the multiple-choice questions in a range from 20 to 80. The essay represents approximately 30% of the score and the other questions 70%. The combined score is converted into the same 200 to 800 score range as the other sections of the test. A perfect score is 2,400 and is achieved by only about 1 in 50,000 students.
Each year the College Board assesses average scores for all the students taking the examination from a particular graduating class. Average scores are reported overall and by state. Information about how a student’s test score fits into the overall results is reported to colleges with the student’s scores.
For more information about the testing process, scheduling, and scoring, visit the College Board website.