### What are your chances of acceptance?

Duke University
UCLA
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
1.0
4.0
SAT: 720 math
200
800
| 800 verbal
200
800

#### Extracurriculars

Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)
5 SAT Info and Tips

# How Does the Scoring Curve Work for the SAT?

## What’s Covered:

Grading curves are commonly used on high school tests and assignments. Grading on a curve adjusts students’ grades to achieve a normal distribution of A’s, B’s, and so on. While students often think the SAT is scored on a curve, that is a misconception.

In reality, the College Board (the group that administers the SAT) uses an equating process that adjusts which raw score correlates to a particular scaled score to ensure that the same scaled score always reflects the same level of ability, no matter the difficulty of a particular version of the exam.

In other words, grading on a curve is based on how everyone performs on a single exam, while equating ensures that students are not punished or rewarded for taking slightly harder or easier versions of a test. Read on to learn more about how equating on the SAT works!

## How is the SAT Scored?

When you take the SAT, you actually take two separate, subject-specific tests, which combine to form the whole SAT. These are the Math test and the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing test.

For each section, you are given a raw score. This score is simply your total number of correct answers. However, your raw score does not appear anywhere on your score report. Instead, it is used to calculate your scaled score through equating. Your scaled score on each section will range from 200-800, and these two scores are then added together to give you your well-known composite score out of 1600.

The process of equating scores accounts for the specific difficulty of each version of the test. Several different forms of the SAT are given during each test administration, and obviously new versions come out for the next administration. So, the equating process for the test you take could be different from the test taken by the person sitting next to you, and will almost assuredly be different from the process for your friends who took the SAT last year.

If you happen to take an easier form of the SAT and therefore receive a higher raw score, the equating process will account for this variation when converting your score. Any mistakes that you make on the easier test will count more than a mistake on a harder version of the test. Similarly, the equating process is more forgiving for students who take a more difficult version of the test.

To summarize, scaled scores, derived from equating, allow colleges to compare scores from different versions of the SAT. Equating ensures that a score of 1200 earned in March reflects the same mastery of the material as a 1200 earned in November.

## When is the Easiest SAT?

Because many people don’t understand the equating process used to convert raw SAT scores to scaled ones, there’s a common misconception that some test administration dates will have a more difficult scoring curve than others. Specifically, many students assume that the October test administration, when many high school seniors are taking the SAT for the final time before submitting their college applications, will have a harder curve.

Remember, though, that your peers do not influence your SAT score in any way. The equating process for a particular version of the SAT is determined by the College Board’s evaluation of how that exam compares to past versions, not by how well or poorly students do.

So, a large group of strong students taking the test at the same time as you will not push your score down, just as a large group of weaker students will not push your score up.

Additionally, there are multiple versions of the SAT administered on each test date–even if you took the SAT on the “easiest” administration date, there’s no guarantee that you’d actually take the easiest version. Even if you did, there would be no reward, since the equating process would account for the difficulty (or lack thereof) of the version of the test that you took.

## How Can I Calculate My Scaled Score From My Raw Score?

Unless you have a copy of the score conversion chart produced specifically for the test that you took, you cannot convert your own score. That’s why on practice tests, you want to be sure to follow the scoring instructions provided with each test, and not unilaterally apply scoring instructions from one practice test to another.

While the variation between each version will be relatively slight, if you want an accurate picture of your performance, you need to use the correct scoring conversion chart. You also won’t be able to do the process in reverse, and determine your raw score after receiving your scaled score, as your score report won’t include a conversion table.

That said, having a general idea of how the College Board converts raw scores to scaled ones can give you a more concrete sense of how equating works.

For example, in the table below you’ll see that a raw score of 54 on the Reading and Writing Section of one particular practice test is equal to a scaled score between 640-660. On a slightly harder version of the test, a raw score of 54 might equate to a scaled score between, say, 670-690, as earning the same number of raw points when answering more difficult questions is a more impressive achievement.

### Raw Score Conversion Table: Reading and Writing Section Score Range

 Raw Score Lower Upper 0 200 200 2 200 200 3 200 200 4 200 200 5 200 200 6 200 200 7 200 210 8 200 220 9 210 230 10 230 250 11 240 260 12 250 270 13 260 280 14 280 300 15 290 310 16 320 340 17 340 360 18 350 370 19 360 380 20 370 390 21 370 390 22 380 400 23 390 410 24 400 420 25 410 430 26 420 440 27 420 440 28 430 450 29 440 460 30 450 470 31 460 480 32 460 480 33 470 490 34 480 500 35 490 510 36 490 510 37 500 520 38 510 530 39 520 540 40 530 550 41 540 560 42 540 560 43 550 570 44 560 580 45 570 590 46 580 600 47 590 610 48 590 610 49 600 620 50 610 630 51 620 640 52 630 650 53 630 650 54 640 660 55 650 670 56 660 680 57 670 690 58 680 700 59 690 710 60 700 720 61 710 730 62 720 740 63 730 750 64 750 770 65 770 790 66 790 800

### Raw Score Conversion Table: Math Section Score Range

 Raw Score Lower Upper 0 200 200 2 200 200 3 200 200 4 200 200 5 200 200 6 200 200 7 200 220 8 200 230 9 220 250 10 250 280 11 280 310 12 290 320 13 300 330 14 310 340 15 320 350 16 330 360 17 330 360 18 330 360 19 340 370 20 350 380 21 360 390 22 370 400 23 380 410 24 390 420 25 400 430 26 420 450 27 430 460 28 440 470 29 460 490 30 470 500 31 480 510 32 500 530 33 510 540 34 520 550 35 530 560 36 550 580 37 560 590 38 570 600 39 580 610 40 590 620 41 600 630 42 620 650 43 630 660 44 650 680 45 670 700 46 690 720 47 710 740 48 730 760 49 740 770 50 750 780 51 760 790 52 770 800 53 780 800 54 790 800

## How Do I Maximize My SAT Score?

There is no best date to take the SAT, as no date will be easier than another, and no particular testing facility administers an easier version of the test. So, what is the magic formula to earning a high SAT score?

The best date to take the SAT is the one on which you’re fully prepared for the test. The only way to ensure that your scaled score is as high as possible is to study hard, whether by joining a study group, hiring a tutor, or simply gathering as many study materials as possible for your own independent preparation.

In addition to knowing the content of the test, you’ll also need to study the test format and common test strategies, such as process of elimination. You should know exactly what to expect on test day when you walk into the SAT, to avoid a last-minute surprise throwing you off.

There’s no single trick that can boost your SAT score–the key is just good, old-fashioned hard work. While hitting the books can seem intimidating, on the bright side your score is fully in your hands! You don’t need to worry about not doing your best just because you weren’t aware of some piece of insider knowledge.

## The Impact of the SAT on Your Chances of Acceptance

Even with many colleges adopting test-optional policies, standardized test scores can still be a crucial part of your application, especially at more selective institutions. To see how your SAT score stacks up at your top choice schools, within the overall context of your application, or to get a sense of which schools your score would be competitive at, check out CollegeVine’s free chancing engine

This tool accounts for all quantifiable aspects of your application, including not just test scores but also grades, course rigor, extracurriculars, and so on to give you personalized odds of acceptance at more than 1,600 schools around the country. It will also give you suggestions for how to increase your chances of admission, for example by earning a higher SAT score.

Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.