SmileTutor Blog Students Exam Tips What is a Good SAT Score and how SAT Scores are calculated

What is a Good SAT Score and how SAT Scores are calculated

A good SAT score will differ depending on SAT Test just like the number of candidates will differ from each test to the next. For example, in 2017 over 140,000 students did the Level II Math Test, while over 48,000 students did the Literature Test, while only 453 did the Italian Test.

While you are taking your SAT Test, you will answer about 50 – 95 questions within an hour. Then several weeks after, you check from your account on the College Board site for your test score on a 200-800 scale. Somehow, the multiple-choice exam results were turned into scaled scores.

But how are subject Tests scored? How does the scaled score happen? Let’s dive in to find out more about the scoring of SAT tests.

What Are the Average SAT Test Scores?

Good Subject Test scores often are much higher than the good scores attained on the regular SAT considering high academic individuals often choose the Subject Tests. Thus, “good” scores are higher than average, possibly around the top 25% of candidates, or top 5 percent when you’re aiming for Ivy League.

Students need to recognise that, having an average 700 score will mean an entirely different thing based on the test. This may be a strong score for Literature tests but, will only be above average for the Level II Math test.

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How can you know what score to aim for in order to have a good score for that subject? As you aim to get a good score for the subject test, always ensure to confirm what score is above average for that particular subject.

What Are the SAT Subject Test Score Percentiles?

Besides getting a mark of between 200 – 800, you will also receive a score percentile. This percentile aims at comparing you with the other students who had taken the test.

For instance, in getting a mark in the 80th percentile, will imply that you scored more than 80 percent of the students. Percentiles are sometimes competitive depending on the number of the test takers, this is regardless of whether some exams are to be easier than others.

So how can students use the percentiles to find out the number of questions they can get wrong? For example with an 800 score on Math II, you need to perform better than 80% of candidates! In essence, when the percentile is higher for 800 scores, then you have fewer questions to get wrong in order to get a score in this top scale. Also, this means that any top scores on these exams will actually stand out.

Good and Excellent SAT Subject Test Scores

In order for a student to have an excellent subject score, the will need to get really high percentiles. Some of the tests that require near perfect score include Math Level II, Chinese with listening, Physics, Italian, Chemistry, and Korean with Listening. But, don’t let this score overwhelm you though.

Most of these subject tests have low standard deviations and high averages. Thus, it means that most of those students that are well-prepared can get high scores above or near the average.

And as you determine a good subject test score, you have another consideration to keep in mind. These include the colleges you have applied to. Though your percentiles only compare you with the rest of the candidates—yet not all of them will be applying to the very colleges you want.

How can the good scores help your child? Students need to have a sense of the average SAT Subject Test scores for the specific colleges they wish to join.

How the Final SAT Subject Score Is Calculated

The College Board provides a plan for changing your raw scores to scaled scores after completing each practice test. These charts will offer you loose ballparks on how a few raw scores on a test might get converted to a scaled mark of between 200 – 800, however, they will not be exact. This implies that there’s no agreeable formula used to convert raw Subject Test scores to a scaled mark.

The reason for this is since the Singaporean College Board equalizes scaled scores making it for scores to be comparable with different test administrations. Meaning accounts for minor difficulty levels and small differences in the skill of candidates are equated on different exam dates.

Essentially, your respective score will not be affected if the students who did the SAT Subject exam alongside you were remarkably strong in the particular subject.

How Is Your Raw SAT Subject Score Calculated?

The total points you get on your subject test before it is converted to the final score of between 200-800 is referred to as the raw score. So if a subject exam has 60 questions, it means the highest raw mark you can get is 60. However, different from the usual SAT, the raw score does not depend only on the number of questions you answer correctly. But, it will also be based on how many you get wrong.

The “guessing penalty,” was created so as to discourage students from random guesswork. This means that each question you answer incorrectly, a fraction of the point will get deducted from your total raw point. And this is for questions you answered correctly.

The SAT subject exam questions are mostly 5-choice questions, and so the guessing penalty comes to a quarter-point.

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Take Away

The Subject Test scoring appears to be unusual since your score does not only account for the number of questions you had correct answers—it also takes into consideration the deductions for those questions you answered wrongly.

Owing to this, it’s difficult to say with certainty which raw score you should aim for so that you reach a specific score.

As you attempt to reach your targeted raw score, consider those questions you are uncertain. Hence, the more choices you eliminate in your answers, the more likely you are to guess the correct answer and even avoid getting penalties.

If you are planning to take your SATs, these articles might interest you:

Detailed Breakdown Of SAT Components
Revision Planner For SATs


Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.