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You know your SAT score is important for college admissions and even things like scholarships, but how does your SAT score get calculated? I'll show the steps to calculating your final SAT score so you can get an accurate idea of how well you're doing on the exam.

 

Step 1: Determine Your Raw Scores

Your raw score is simply calculated using the number of questions you answered correctly.

  • For every question you answer correctly on the SAT, you receive one point
  • There is no penalty for guessing or skipping. 

The maximum possible raw score varies by section (and depends on the total number of questions asked). For example, for the Reading Test, there are 52 questions, so the maximum raw score is 52. If you answered all 52 questions correctly, you would have a raw score of 52. For Math, there are 58 questions. For Writing, there are 44 multiple-choice questions.

There is one essay, which is graded separately on a scale of 2-8 and is not factored into your composite score (your 400-1600 score); therefore, I will not be discussing it further in this article, but for more information, read our articles on the new SAT essay prompts and the SAT essay rubric.

 

Step 2: Convert the Raw Scores to Scaled Scores

The raw score is converted into the scale score (on the 200 to 800 scale for each section) using a table. This table varies by SAT test date. The table is used as a way to make sure each test is “standardized”. The table is a way of making “easier” SAT tests equal to the “harder” SAT tests. For instance, a raw score of 57 in Math might translate to an 800 on one test date and 790 on another.

For Math, you simply convert your raw score to final section score using the table. For the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score, there is an extra step. You get individual raw scores for the Reading Test and the Writing and Language Test. These two raw scores are the converted into two scaled test scores using a table. The two test scores are then added together and multiplied by 10 to give you your final Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score (from 200 to 800). I'll explain this more in-depth with examples below: 

You cannot know what the raw to scale score conversion will be in advance. While the exact raw to scale score conversion will vary by testing date, the College Board supplies this example chart in their new SAT Practice Test: 

 

Raw Score

Math Section
Score

Reading Test
Score
Writing and
Language
Test Score
58800  
57790  
56780  
55760  
54750  
53740  
5273040 
5171040 
5070039 
4969038 
4868038 
4767037 
4667037 
4566036 
446503540
436403539
426303438
416203337
406103336
396003235
386003234
375903134
365803133
355703032
345603032
335602931
325502930
315402830
305302829
295202728
285202628
275102627
265002526
254902526
244802425
234802425
224702324
214602323
204502223
194402222
184302121
174202121
164102020
153902019
143801919
133701918
123601917
113401716
103301716
93201615
83101514
72901513
62801413
52601312
42401211
32301110
22101010
12001010
02001010

 

Note: this is just an example. The exact conversion chart will vary slightly depending on the individual test.

Why are Reading and Writing and Language listed as separate sections? Why are they graded from 10-40 instead of 200-800? As I mentioned briefly before, you get separate raw scores for the Reading and Writing and Language. You then take these two raw scores and convert them into two scale scores using the above table. For example, if you answered 33 correctly in Reading and 39 correctly in Writing and Language, your scale scores would be 29 and 35, respectively. 

These two scaled scores are then added together and multiplied by 10 to give you your final Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score (from 200 to 800). Continuing the above example, if your scale scores were 29 for Reading and 35 for Writing and Language, your final Evidence-Based Reading and Writing scaled score would be:

(29 + 35) x 10 = 64 x 10 = 640

 

Step 3: Take the Scaled Scores and Add Them Together

Once you have your scaled score for both the Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing sections, you just add them together to get your overall SAT composite score.

For example, if you scored a 710 in Math and 640 in Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, your composite score would be 710+640 = 1350. 

 

How to Understand Your SAT Score Report

The College Board gives you the breakdown of your incorrect, correct, and omitted answers on your SAT score report in addition to your final scaled scores. See below excerpts from a real new SAT score report:

 

 

Note that on this test, the raw Math score was out of 57, not 58, points. This sometimes happens when a question on the test is deemed to be unfair or unanswerable and the SAT drops it from everyone's scoring.

 

For the Reading and Writing and Language sections on this SAT score report, this student’s raw scores were 52 and 42. These raw SAT section scores scaled to section scores of 40 (Reading) and 39 (Writing and Language), which translated to a 790 Evidence-Based Reading & Writing Score:

(40 + 39) x 10 = 790

I'd like to emphasize that you will not be able to determine what the full table of raw to scaled scores conversion was from your score report. Instead, you will only be able to determine what your raw score was and see how it translated to your scaled score. 

 

What This Means for You

Once you have determined your target SAT score in terms of raw score, you can use it to determine your SAT test strategy options. We have plenty of resources to help you out. Once you know what SAT score you're aiming for and how far you are from that goal score, you can begin to develop a study plan, gather study materials, and get to work on raising your score!

 

If You Need Help Creating a Study Plan

How to Build an SAT Study Plan

How to Cram for the SAT

How Long Should You Study for the SAT?

 

If You Need More Study Materials

Complete Official SAT Practice Tests

The 11 Best SAT Prep Books

The Best SAT Prep Websites You Should Be Using

 

If You Want to Raise Your Score

The Best Way to Review Your Mistakes for the SAT

How to Get an 800 on SAT Reading

How to Get an 800 on SAT Math

 

 

What’s Next?

Want to rock the SAT? Check out our complete SAT study guide!

Want to find free new 2016 SAT practice tests? Check out our massive collection!

Not sure what score to aim for on the new SAT? Read our guide to picking your target score.

 

Disappointed with your scores? Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We've written a guide about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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