How to calculate Raw scores, Scale scores and Percentiles?

Exam: Test Prep SAT Test - Scholastic Assessment Test: Reading, Writing and Language, Mathematics

SAT scores do not range from 0% to 100%.  The scores range from 200 to 800 for every section, and the total is 2400. The reason for this kind of scoring is to ensure a more abstract representation of the score.

You can calculate your SAT scores as a raw score, scale or percentile

Calculating SAT Raw score

Have you ever wondered why your SAT report does not show your raw score? Well, it is because to attain the raw score, you first receive penalties for giving wrong answers. It is, therefore, crucial for you to comprehend how to calculate the score as this could affect your approach to the test.

In getting the score, you will have to deduct marks for those questions you answered wrongly. You will also have to account for questions that you never answered. If you answered a question correctly, you earn a single point, and if you answered a question wrongly, you lose a quarter of a point. If you skipped answering a question, you neither lose nor gain a point.

In every section of the SAT test apart from the essay, you should calculate your score as follows:

(Number of correct answers)- (Number of incorrect answers) (0.25)

If you use the above formula, you should arrive at the same result as when you use the formula below:

Raw score= (correct answers) - ¼ (wrong answers)

From the above expression, you simply multiply the wrong answers by 0.25. You then subtract the result from the number of correct answers. Thus, it follows if you answer most questions correctly; you have a high chance of scoring well. However, if you answer most questions wrongly, your score will go down. It, therefore, implies that guessing and leaving questions unanswered affects your raw score. To achieve high raw score, students should concentrate on answering questions for which they are a hundred percent sure that they have the correct answer.

Nonetheless, if you answered seventy-five math questions and got thirty-five points after calculating using the above formula, it does not imply that you have a score of 500 points. It instead implies that you scored halfway between 200 and 800 points.

The raw score is very important as it determines your scale score as well as your percentile score.

How do you calculate the raw score for the essay section?

You determine the essay raw score by combining the scores of two readers who graded the essay. The scale of grading essays is 1 to 6. Thus, an overall score will fall between 2 and 12.

The following formula applies:

(Grade by first reader + Grade by second reader) (0.5) 

Calculating SAT Scale scores

The process of arriving at scaled scores is complex.  For one, it is possible to create two different SAT tests of the same level of complexity because the questions in the two tests will be different.  However, those who formulate the tests try their best to make any two different tests as similar as they can. It is also important to note that the College Board makes numerous tests and ensures that the score of every test is fair is a daunting task.

To ensure that the different tests are similar, they compare your score to those of others who did the same test (your percentile score) as well as to the scores of previous tests. Suppose that you score the same average raw score.  The average raw score could vary from one test to another but if it remains the same, your average score will fall in the 200 to 800 scale, which remains the same for different versions of tests. However, another issue that makes it tricky is that they have to ensure that if most people seem to have passed the test, it does not pull down your score.  If they check this factor, your average score could go up while it would catapult your scale to a lower level.

How do they counter this problem?

They handle the problem by a process termed as equating.  The SAT test has one part that is the "experimental section," which they use as a constant to balance the scores. They never score the experimental section when calculating students' scores. The section has questions very similar to questions in the experimental section of other tests. The board thus checks how testing groups perform in this section and observe the general ability of the examinees.  By doing so, they prevent students from getting lower scores than they deserve just because everyone has performed well.

In other words, if you initially sat for the SAT and score 1500 points, and sit for the SAT a second time and score 1600 points, it does not imply that the latter test was simpler than the former. The results differ because of the standardization measures employed to ensure a fair score for everyone.  It is uncommon for the scale score to differ even for different editions of the same test. All that matter is how well you are prepared to take a test.

Calculating SAT Percentile Score

The percentile score enables you to know how good or bad your score is. The percentile score enables you to know where you rank among all those who sat for the same test. The percentile score relates to the percentage of the total students who scored a lower raw score than you did. For instance, if fall under the 80th percentile, it simply means that you scored better than those students in the 79 percentile did of all the students who sat for the test. It also implies that 2o percent of students performed better than you did.

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