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So, it’s been about a month since you took your SAT, and you just got an e-mail telling you that your scores are available online. You might be feeling pretty nervous, because this test is a pretty big deal, right?
Many students get their Online SAT Score Report back, but have no idea how to read SAT scores, or how to interpret the significance of its various numbers and metrics. Maybe they start subconsciously wondering if the ACT is better than the SAT…
There’s actually quite a bit of information to gain about your test performance from your online score report – as long as you know how to read SAT scores!
At the end of this article, I’ve also included a bunch of “next steps” for students and parents who want to get their SAT score higher on the next go-round.
Step-by-step guide through the ins and outs of how to get and read SAT scores online:
Get to your SAT Online Score Report by logging in to your College Board SAT account, clicking “Scores,” then “View and Send Scores,” then “Understand Your Test Performance” underneath the scores from the test you’re interested in. I’ve highlighted it in red in this picture:
This takes you to a page with 4 main tabs: Summary, Reading, Math, and Writing. The Summary Tab looks like this:
Starting from top-left:
“Range” accounts for the fact that the SAT score curve isn’t perfect and no student is absolutely consistent. There is a small range of scores that are considered very similar to each other due to variations between times you and other students take the test – for example, 720-780. The Score Range box shows the range of other scores that are “in your league.”
Below that is your “National Percentile.” This percentage compares you to other test takers – the higher your score, the higher this percentage, and the better you did. If this says “75%” that means your SAT score is better than 75% of national test-takers. If you want to know how to read SAT scores and figure out what they say about the “real world,” this is the most important field to look at.
Moving over to the larger rectangle to the right: This portion of the SAT score report breaks down the number of questions you answered correctly and incorrectly, as well as the number of questions you skipped.
Also, take a look at your number of incorrect answers compared to the number of omitted questions. If you incorrectly answered MORE than 7-8 questions in the Critical Reading section, I want you to focus on SKIPPING questions more often if you’re confused by the question or unsure of the answer. You’ll lose less points this way.
If you want to improve, make sure you sign up for my free SAT prep mailing list (you’ll get a free special report on the Critical Reading section just for joining today) and also check out the list of SAT prep books I’ve written to help my students.
On the other hand, if you incorrectly answered LESS than 3-4 questions on the Critical Reading section and skipped more instead, I want you to speed up and try to answer more questions. It sounds like you know what you’re doing and you just need to quicken your pace.
How to get and read SAT scores online: Math Section
Reading your SAT Math Score Report is basically the same process. You will see that the questions are broken down by topics – Algebra, or Geometry, for example.
You should be answering even fewer questions incorrectly on the Math section than on the reading – if you missed more than 4 questions on the Math section, you need to slow down and avoid making careless mistakes, or review your fundamentals.
However, if you missed fewer than 4 questions on the Math section, focus on speeding up a little bit.
How to get and read SAT scores online: Writing Section
This page further breaks down your Writing performance by displaying the number of easy, medium, and hard questions you missed, skipped, or got right.
You can also see the two individual essay scores you got on a scale from 1-6. Two graders read each essay separately and assign their 1-6 score to it. Both scores are almost always the same, or within 1 point of each other.
If you scroll down further you will get some basic advice about your performance from the College Board which can be interesting to peruse.
Returning to the top of the page, you will find a link to “Your Essay.” Clicking this will bring you to a scanned copy of your essay, as well as the prompt you were given on the test. (It can be pretty embarrassing to reread your essay… it is for me! I try to keep in mind that I wrote it in 25 minutes at 8 am on a Saturday)
Ok, one more thing: scroll back up to the top and click “Compare Your Score.”
This page shows you your Writing score percentile against national test takers, as well as your home state. It also provides an interesting tidbit of information: the national and state averages for the Writing section.
Now that you know how to work your online score report, you can click on your Math and Reading tabs and get the same breakdowns we just looked at in the Writing section. I really hope this helps when you’re trying to figure out how to read SAT scores online!
Not happy with your SAT score?
Don’t worry, you can retake the SAT for a better score and you may even be able to incorporate sections of today’s score into your “SAT Superscore” and use this to your advantage later on in the college and scholarship application process.
Study this stuff until you master the grammar rules, math fundamentals and advanced SAT topics (get as much math practice as possible, really) and invest a lot of time into vocabulary, free-reading, and SAT Reading skills as well as full-length practice SATs, practice sections from the Official Study Guide for homework and online SAT tutoring or small-group classes.
If you’re serious about improving your score you should also read this post and the list of recommended links below.
Then pick up a copy of The Official SAT Study Guide and get practicing!
(And maybe think about taking the ACT as well?)
Can the SAT Really Affect Your Future Forever?
How Many Times Can You Take the SAT?
How the SAT is Scored and When to Guess
Prepping the SAT at Home: The Complete Free Guide
The 9 Essential Factors of SAT Score Improvements
Is the ACT better than the SAT?
The SAT Score Choice Option and How it Can Help You
SAT Superscore: What is it?
Why you should take both the ACT and the SAT
Visit My Online SAT Bookstore
Griffin SAT: Complete Course on Acing the SAT
SAT Critical Reading Mastery Video Course
Power 800 SAT Math Video Course
Winning College Scholarships Video Course