10 months ago
Admissions Advice

SAT score confusion

I'm a little confused about part of my SAT score. I scored a 1500, with a 720 in the EBRW (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing) section, and 780 in Math.

However, when I looked at my SAT score, I only missed 1 math question, which was rated as a medium-level difficulty problem.

How did I only miss one problem on the Math section, but lose 20 points? I know it's possible to score a 790, and according to College Board, your score is based on the number of problems you get correct. Can anyone explain this?


Earn karma by helping others:

1 karma for each ⬆️ upvote on your answer, and 20 karma if your answer is marked accepted.

3 answers

Accepted Answer
10 months ago

You have made some inaccurate assumptions about College Board and how they administer and score the SAT.

1.) If you are unaware, be aware that no two administered SAT tests are alike.

2.) Sometimes CollegeBoard curves the Math part harder than the English part and sometimes the opposite. The will not curve the entire test easy or hard because they have to balance out the expected outcome. For example, I took the August 2019 SAT and missed 2 on the Math section and received a 750. That test had the following scores: 1 wrong (770), 2 wrong (750), 3 wrong (730), 4 wrong (710). So the fact you got a 780 is not as bad as the test I took. Most of the time 1 wrong does equate to 790 but not all the time.

3.) When we know the material really well, it's often easy to make a simple mistake because we are not double and triple checking our answers.

4.) Remember that the SAT is doesn't test your knowledge of the subject matter as much as how well you understand how to master the format of the test.

Since all colleges currently have a test-optional policy and some have set a moratorium for this for the next 2 to 3 years, I wouldn't focus too much on trying to get a higher score since it's a 98-99 percentile score according to Collegeboard. If you are a junior, you will know within the next 4 to 5 months if Test-optional will continue for the Class of 26'. Most likely it will.

My advice is to focus on your essays, recommendations, ECs. And if you have the opportunity to improve your SAT, it would be far better to get a 750 in English than a 790 in Math. The top STEM colleges like MIT and Caltech admits have high English scores as well.

Good luck with your college applications

10 months ago

Each SAT has a different curve depending on how hard the questions were supposed to be. So on one test, getting one question wrong could result in a 1600 while for another test getting one question wrong could result in a 1570. It just depends on the curve of the test you took. The difficulty of the individual question you got wrong does not affect your final score.

10 months ago[edited]

I believe that SAT score are up to the relative between you and the candidates who took the exam on that date. So if the math section of that particular sitting was happened to be easier than usual rounds and many test takers managed to get a full score. Having only one missed answer on a medium level might actually result in a 780.

edit: Grammar


Community Guidelines

To keep this community safe and supportive:

  1. Be kind and respectful!
  2. Keep posts relevant to college admissions and high school.
  3. Don’t ask “chance-me” questions. Use CollegeVine’s chancing instead!

How karma works