Sat Writing And Essay Conversion Chart

One question that often comes up as you begin studying for the SAT is this: how on earth is this thing scored? Or more specifically, how are the raw scores you earn from each section turned into those neat numbers between 200 and 800 you see on the score report?

This article breaks down how the SAT is scored, section by section. You will learn how your raw score becomes a scaled score and how you can use that information to your advantage. After all, a strong understanding of the exam can give you an edge on the SAT.

 

Overview

The SAT has two big sections – Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW), and Math. You can earn a scaled score of between 200 and 800 points on each section, for a total of 1600 possible points on the Redesigned SAT. (If you're looking for information about the old SAT, which was last offered in January 2016 and scored out of 2400, you can learn here how to calculate your SAT score and how to interpret your SAT results.)

The scaled score of between 200 and 800 is converted from the raw score you earn on each section. Your raw score is simply the number of questions you answered correctly. Skipped or wrong questions do not add or subtract from your raw score.

So how do those raw scores become scaled scores? It happens through a process that College Board calls equating: “Equating ensures that the different forms of the test or the level of ability of the students with whom you are tested do not affect your score. Equating makes it possible to make comparisons among test takers who take different editions of the test across different administrations.”

In other words, equating is not curving your score relative to other test takers on the day you take the test. Equating controls for slight variations in different SAT dates to ensure that scaled scores represent the same level of ability across different test dates. For example, a 600 on SAT Math in March has to represent the same ability level as a 600 on SAT Math in May. So if the May test turns out to be more difficult for students, the raw-score to scaled-score calculation will be adjusted so that a slightly lower raw score still nets a 600 scaled score.

Since the equating formula changes from test to test to keep the scores equal, there is no way to know for sure how a certain raw score will translate to a scaled score. However, the College Board releases raw score to scaled score ranges to give you an idea of what level of raw score you need to get to certain scaled score numbers.

While there are not confirmed score range tables available yet, we can use the raw to scaled score tables included in College Board’s free SAT practice tests for a sense of how raw scores become scaled scores on the Redesigned SAT.

You'll notice as you look at the tables that they differ slightly: for example, a raw score of 57 gets you a perfect 800 on Test 4 but not Test 1. This is because, as we discussed above, each test is equated so that despite slight differences in difficulty, an 800 on one test means the same as an 800 on another test. In this case, the Math section on Test 4 is slightly harder, so you can only miss one point and still get an 800.

And don’t worry – we will explain scoring for each section in depth so you’ll know exactly how to use these tables.

 Test 1 Score Conversion Table

Via College Board's Scoring Your Practice Test 1.

 

Test 4 Score Conversion Table

Via College Board's Scoring Your Practice Test 4.

 

Next, we will break down the mechanics of scoring section-to-section, to help you best prepare for each part of the test.

 

Calculating Your Math Section Score

Finding your score on SAT Math is relatively straightforward. I'll walk you step-by-step through finding your raw score to calculating your final scaled score between 200 and 800.

 

  1. Figure out your raw score on each of the two math sections (No Calculator and Calculator). This is just the total amount of questions you answered correctly. The No Calculator section has 20 possible points, while the Calculator section has 38 possible points. Blank or wrong questions do not count for or against you. For the Grid-In answers, where you fill in the answer rather than choosing A, B, C, or D, remember that there can be a few different ways to write the same answer (for example, 3/5 could also be written as 0.6).

    As an example, let's say I take Practice Test 1. After checking my answers, I count 15 correct answers on the No Calculator Section, and 25 correct answers on the Calculator section. I ignore wrong or blank answers as I count, since there is no longer a deduction for wrong answers.

 

  1. Add your No-Calculator raw score to your Calculator raw score. This is your final Math raw score. The highest possible raw score is 58.

    To continue my example, I would add 15 (my raw score on the No Calculator section) to 25 (my raw score on the Calculator section) for a final Math raw score of 40.

 

  1. Using the table for your practice test, find the scaled score of 200-800 your raw score matches to.

    Since I took Practice Test 1, I use Table 1 and find that a raw score of 40 translates to a scaled score of 610. 

 Via College Board's Scoring Your Practice Test 1.

 

  1. What if you're not using one of College Board's practice tests? If you’re scoring questions from a practice test without a raw score to scaled score table, or you just want to know how many raw points you would need for a certain score, look at both tables to come up with an estimate. For example, when I look at Table 4, I see that a raw score of 40 on that test would have gotten me a 670! Based on that, I know if I get a raw score of 40 on Math, I can bet on a final score in the low- to mid-600s. We'll talk more about how to come up with raw score goals later in the post!

 

Calculating Your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Score

Finding your EBRW scaled score is a bit trickier than finding your Math score, since you have to combine your performance on the Reading and Writing sections. Let's take a look.

 

  1. Find your raw score on the Reading section. This is just the total amount of questions you answered correctly. Blank or wrong questions do not count for or against you. The highest raw score possible is 52.

    To continue with my example, let's stay with Practice Test 1. Let's say I correct the Reading section and find that I got 39 questions right. That gives me a Reading raw score of 39.

 

  1. Find your raw score on the Writing section. This is just the total amount of questions you answered correctly. Blank or wrong questions do not count for or against you. The highest raw score possible is 44.

    Let's say I correct the Writing section and see that I got 35 questions correct. My Writing raw score is 35.

 

  1. Find your Reading “scaled score” on the table. This is a number between 10 and 40.

    Using Table 1, I look up my Reading raw score of 40, and see that it translates to a scaled score of 32.

 

  1. Find your Writing “scaled score” on the table. This is a number between 10 and 40.

 Using Table 1, I look up my Writing raw score of 35 and see that it also translates to 32.

 

Via College Board's Scoring Your Practice Test 1.

 

  1. Add your Reading and Writing scaled scores together. You’ll get a number between 20 and 80.

    Since I got a 32 scaled score on both Reading and Writing, I add them together: 32 + 32 = 64.

 

  1. Multiply your scaled score by 10. This is your final scaled score between 200 and 800.

    I multiply 64 by 10 to get 640. This is my final Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score.

 

Finally, I can calculate my total SAT composite score, since I know my Math score (610) and my EBRW score (640). I simply add them together to get the composite: 610 + 640 = 1250. Not too shabby!

 

Subscores

But wait, there's more! The Redesigned SAT also gives you a number of subscores: two that rate your ability in different subjects (History/Social Studies and Science), and seven that break down the Math, Reading, and Writing sections into more specific (and creatively-named!) skills, for example, "Heart of Algebra." You can read in-depth about the Subscores on the Redesigned SAT website.

We’ll explain here how to calculate these various subscores – and also talk a bit about why they’re not as important as your main section scores.

 

Cross-Tess Scores: Analysis in History/Social Studies and Analysis in Science

To calculate your cross-test scores, you need to have access to a detailed answer key that marks which questions fall under which cross-score categories, since they will come from all different sections of the test. If you take the College Board's free practice tests (linked above), then you can use their answer keys, which are quite detailed.

Find the questions marked as History/Social Studies and Science in the answer key. Next, find your raw score for each category – simply total up how many questions you got right. This can be a bit tedious, since you have to count up questions from different sections. College Board's answer keys come with a table to help you do this.

 

Via College Board's Scoring Your Practice Test 1. 

 

Finally, use their table to calculate your final scaled score, between 10 and 40, for each subject area, History/Social Science and Science, based on the raw scores you found. Unlike EBRW, you do not combine these two scores and multiply them for a final scaled score between 200 and 800. They simply stand alone as indicators of your Science and Social Science skills.

 

 Via College Board's Scoring Your Practice Test 1.

 

Subject-Specific Subscores

You can also calculate subscores for seven other areas: Expression of Ideas, Standard English Conventions, Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Passport to Advanced Math, Words in Context, and Command of Evidence. These subscores give you more fine-grained information about your performance within Math and EBRW.

You find these subscores using the same process: find the questions marked as belonging to those categories, total up your raw score for each category, and then use the conversion table to find your scaled scores. It can definitely be tedious to calculate all of these on your own, since there are seven categories, but it can be worth it to learn more about your strengths and weaknesses as a test-taker, as we will discuss below.

 

 

 An example of how to find the relevant questions to calculate a subscore. Via College Board's Scoring Your Practice Test 1.

 

The final conversion table for finding your subscores. Via College Board's Scoring Your Practice Test 1.

 

How Much Do My Subscores Matter?

In terms of how your SAT score is perceived, the subscores aren’t very important. Colleges are looking most closely at your composite score, and then at the two main section scores (EBRW and Math). They may look at your subscores for more info or context about your performance, but they’re not nearly as important.

Especially since these subscore categories are new with the Redesigned SAT, and colleges aren’t really used to taking all of these different subscores into account, they are more likely to rely on just the basic composite (1600) and main section scores (out of 800) to compare your scores with other applicants.

However, these subscores can be very helpful for you. Why? They can give you major clues as to where to focus your prep. For example, say that when you calculate your math subscores and notice that you missed over half of the “Passport to Advanced Math” questions, despite getting the other questions mostly correct. That’s a big hint that you are struggling with some higher-level math concepts, and you should study them carefully before retaking the test.

So even though it's tedious, if you're not getting the scores you want on practice exams, take the time to calculate your subscores -- both the cross-subject scores and the section subscores -- to figure out where you're going wrong and to focus your studying more carefully.

 

What About the Essay?

Unlike the old SAT, on the new SAT, your essay score is totally separate and not combined with your final composite score in any way. (You could technically score a perfect 1600 even with a subpar essay – not that we recommend blowing the essay off, as we will discuss below!).

As for how your essay is graded, it will receive three scores between 2 and 8: one score for Reading, one for Analysis, and one for Writing. A 2 is the lowest score for any category, while 8 is the highest.

  • Reading will judge how well you read through and understood the passage the essay is about and how well you demonstrate that understanding in your essay.
  • Analysis will judge how well you analyze the passage in relation to the prompt and how solid (or not) your argument is.
  • Writing will judge how strong your essay is from a construction standpoint: in other words, is it logical? Does it flow well? Do you use good grammar and spelling?

Two readers (as in, two flesh and blood people!) will read your essay, and give the Reading, Analysis, and Writing parts of your essay a score from 1 to 4. Those scores will then be added together for the three final scores of between 2 and 8. You can read a complete SAT essay rubric in case you’re curious about how exactly the essay will be graded.

 

How To Use This Information

So, now that you’re an expert on how the SAT is scored, how can you use this information to your advantage? We have identified four key ways in which understanding SAT scores can help you make a smart study plan and improve your score.

 

#1: Develop Targeted Raw Scores

You can use College Board’s raw-to-scaled score tables to help develop a target raw score for each section. For example, if you want to crack 700 on Math, you should aim for at least a 45, though 50 is the safest bet.

If you want to get to at least a 700 on EBRW, since it combines Reading and Writing, you can play around a bit with your raw score goals. For example, you could aim to get a scaled score of 35 on each section, for a total of 70. In this case, you would go for 45 raw points on Reading and 39 raw points on Writing.

But say you are really confident about the Writing section but less confident on Reading. You could go for a perfect 40 on Writing and aim for 30 on Reading and still get a 70, a.k.a. 700, overall. In that case, you would aim for all 44 raw points on Writing and 36 raw points on reading.

So no matter what your score goals are, using the tables to find the raw scores you need helps make your studying more concrete and manageable. Knowing how many raw points you need gives you a much better sense of how to approach each section.

(By the way, if you're wondering what SAT score you should aim for you should read our guide to what a good SAT score is.)

 

#2: Guess Aggressively

Since the Redesigned SAT doesn’t have a guessing penalty, make sure to answer every single question on every single section – even if it means filling in random bubbles if you run out of time at the end of the test. At best, you’ll pick up an extra raw point or two, at worst, you won’t gain any. But you will not be hurt at all by guessing, so it’s worth the shot!

Remember: if you're leaving blank bubbles on your SAT answer sheet, you're basically throwing away free raw points.

 

#3: Don't Sweat the Essay... But Don't Brush It Off, Either

Since the essay doesn’t factor into your final composite score, don’t devote too much of your SAT study time on it. Having the highest composite score possible is important both for admission to selective schools and for getting merit scholarships.

However, you shouldn’t swing the other way and completely bomb the essay. Colleges will be able to read your essay when your SAT scores are sent, so you want it to represent your sincerest effort. Especially since colleges have the essay as an example of your writing, you want it to be good quality so that your carefully edited essays don't look like they were written by someone else.

Bottom line: your overall composite score is much more important than the essay, and as long as your essay score isn’t drastically different than your composite, you’ll be fine.

 

#4: Do Sweat the Math Section

Since Math is exactly half of your composite score, it’s more important than ever to study hard for it. Unlike the old SAT, on which Math was just 1/3 of your total composite, on the Redesigned SAT, it can absolutely make or break your score.

To take an example, let's look at two hypothetical students. Student A does perfectly on Reading and Writing, scoring a perfect 40 on each section for a composite of 800. However, he stumbles a bit on Math, getting a composite of 600. Student A's final composite is 1400.

Student B, meanwhile, does perfectly on Math, with a score of 800, and Reading, with a scaled score of 40. However, she stumbles a bit on writing and only gets a scaled score of 30. Her final EBRW scaled score is a 70 (40 + 30), meaning that she ends up with an EBRW composite of 700. So Student B's final composite score is a 1500, significantly higher!

The message here isn't to neglect studying for Reading and Writing. It is still important to do very well on both sections for a strong EBRW score. However, you can see that out of the three sections, Math carries the most weight, so it's very important to do well on Math for a strong final composite score.

 

What's Next?

Did the last section freak you out? If you don't consider yourself a math person, don't panic! We have the ultimate guide for SAT Math including practice problems and key strategies to help you do well.

By the way, we believe anyone can be a math person! To find out how, check out this article on getting perfect grades in high school from our resident Harvard alum. Not only does this guide have great advice for improving your grades, it also explains the concept of a "growth mindset" and why having this mindset is key to doing well, even in subjects you think you're not good at.

Get the complete lowdown on the Redesigned SAT with our complete guide to the New SAT. In this post we break down new question types, new strategies, and new challenges that you may face on the SAT beginning in March 2016.

What SAT score should you aim for? We take you step by step through figuring out your SAT target score. This is a crucial step to be able to figure out the raw scores you need for each section and to make a comprehensive study plan.

 

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? Click below to download our free guide to the top 5 strategies you need to keep in mind to have a shot:

 

The Tests to Take to Get into American Colleges

Welcome college counselors, admissions officers, parents, and students in the Class of 2018, Class of 2019, Class of 2020, and Class of 2021 to ConvertYourScore.org!

You've arrived at the world's authoritative SAT-ACT conversion tool and information resource because you realize that most colleges and universities in the United States require or recommend that students submit scores from one of two standardized tests - the SAT and the ACT - in order to be considered for admission. Standardized tests like the SAT and ACT are important to American colleges and universities because they are standardized - unlike high school grades and extracurricular activities, which will vary greatly from school to school and student to student. While there is much debate these days as to whether or not success on the SAT or ACT is a reliable predictor of how a student will perform during his or her freshman year of college, students can't get wrapped up in the latest academic debates on the matter. For the foreseeable future most colleges will continue to judge applicants and their perceived potential based on their scores on the SAT or ACT. If you want to have the most college options, you need to take the SAT and/or ACT.

The good news is that all American colleges and universities that require submission of standardized test scores as a part of a student's application will consider a student's score on the SAT or ACT. Colleges look at your success on these tests as interchangeable - even though the tests assess your skills and knowledge quite differently. Thus, you need to be strategic about which tests to take and when to take them in order to ultimately submit to colleges your best scores.

Many students, depending on their particular strengths and weaknesses, will perform much better on one test or the other. Consequently, prepared students will study for both tests by purchasing and completing timed practice tests included in 2018 editions of The Official SAT Study Guide and The Official ACT Prep Guide. Next, students should sign up for and take the SAT and ACT at least once each in order to gauge which test casts them in the best light.

How do the ACT and SAT Differ?

The SAT assesses students in the areas of Evidence-Based Reading & Writing (EBRW) and Math (M). There is also an optional essay in its own section. The ACT tests students in English (E), Math (M), Reading (R), and Science (S). On the ACT there is also an optional essay.

    The ACT's sections are broken down as follows:

    • English: 75 questions/45 minutes
    • Mathematics: 60 questions/60 minutes
    • Reading: 40 questions/35 minutes
    • Science: 40 questions/35 minutes
    • Optional Writing: 1 essay prompt/40 minutes

    The required sections of the ACT take 2 hours and 55 minutes. If you opt to take the optional Writing (essay) section, you will add an extra 40 minutes to the end of your test. The key concepts tested on each section of the ACT are as follows:

    • English: Usage/Mechanics and Rhetorical Skills
    • Mathematics: Pre-Algebra and Elementary Algebra, Intermediate Algebra and Coordinate Geometry, and Plane Geometry and Triginometry
    • Reading: Arts and Literature and Social Studies and Sciences
    • Science: Data Representations, Research Summaries, and Conflicting Viewpoints
    • Optional Writing: Ideas and Analysis, Development and Support, Organization, and Language Use and Conventions

    The SAT's five sections proceed as follows:

    • Reading Test: 52 questions/65 minutes
    • Writing and Language Test: 44 questions/35 minutes
    • Math Test - No Calculator (Multiple Choice + Student Produced Response): 20 questions/25 minutes
    • Math Test - Calculator Permitted (Multiple Choice + Student Produced Response): 38 questions/55 minutes
    • Optional Essay: 1 prompt/50 minutes

    The required sections of the SAT take 3 hours to complete. If you opt to take the optional Essay section, you will add an extra 50 minutes to your test-day experience.The key concepts tested on each section of the SAT are:

    • Reading Test: Command of Evidence, Words in Context, and Analysis of Social Studies/Science
    • Writing and Language Test: Same as Reading Test + Expression of Ideas and Standard English Conventions
    • Math Test - No Calculator (Multiple Choice + Student Produced Response): Linear Equations and Systems, Quantitative Skills, and some Geometry and Trigonometry
    • Math Test - Calculator Permitted (Multiple Choice + Student Produced Response): Same as first Math Test + Manipulation of Complex Equations
    • Optional Essay: Must prove that you are focused, organized, and precise in your reading, analysis, and writing

How the ACT and SAT are Scored Today

On both the SAT and ACT there is a difference between raw points earned versus scaled points earned. Basically, raw points are earned for correct answers. On both tests no raw points are deducted for multiple choice questions answered incorrectly or left blank.

Yet, the testing agencies responsible for the SAT and ACT hardly make things simple because they don't report to you your raw score (at least not directly in top-level summaries available on score reports). Instead they put your raw scores in the oven - they cook them! Instead of calling your final scores on these tests your cooked scores, they call them your scaled scores. Receiving cooked scores probably would rub people the wrong way. Go figure. Yet, how the SAT and ACT cook their scores is completely different. The SAT inflates and the ACT deflates.

The lowest score one can earn on each of the three sections of the SAT is 200. To earn a 200 on one section of the SAT would mean that you answered no questions right and a lot of questions wrong. Thus, 200 is a very rare score to get on any section of the SAT. A 200 still sounds better than 0 to the man on the street, so congrats if you get a 200. Thus, the lowest potential combined score one can get on the two main sections of the SAT is a 400.

Alternatively, if you get every SAT question right (or nearly every question on some test administration dates), you can earn as high as 800 points on each section. Thus, the highest combined score one can earn on the SAT is 1600. Now that's hot stuff!

The average scores for Americans taking the test come in at just above or below 500 per section depending on the year or exact test date of administration.

Meanwhile, the ACT has a scaled score that looks completely different, first because there are more sections, and second because when you go out to lunch with someone you don't just want to rattle off the sum of your section scores like you would with the SAT. Remember, if somebody earned a 630 Evidence-Based Reading & Writing and 700 Math on the SAT, they would most likely be overheard saying something like, "So, guess what? I just found out that I got a 1330 on the SAT! Can you believe how awesome I am?" When referring colloquially to your greatness as it relates to your ACT score, you speak a bit differently. You share your average score of all the sections that make up the test. This score is referred to as your composite score. The highest composite score one can earn on the ACT is a 36, while the lowest composite score one can theoretically get on the ACT is a 1. So, again, assuming you are out with a friend after checking your scores online, you would say something like, "Oh my gosh! I just logged in and I got a 30!" For the student in this example to get a 30 means that he or she got section scores that averaged out to 30. So, for instance, he or she may have gotten a 29 on the English section a 33 on the Math section, a 28 on the Reading section, and a 31 on the Science section.

29+33+28+31 = 121 / 4 = 30.25

Please note from the example above that ACT will only round up to the next highest round number starting at X.50; therefore, a score of 30.25 is reported as a 30.

What About My Essay/Writing Score?

Note that in the above example we have not mentioned the student's ACT Writing score, which on the ACT is synonymous with a test taker's essay score. This is because a student's Writing (essay) score does not affect his or her composite score in any way. Similarly, on the SAT, a student’s Essay score does not affect his or her composite SAT score in any way. Yet, just because your essays don’t get factored into your composite scores does not mean that they are unimportant.

In 2018 colleges are able to compare better than ever before one’s essay-writing score on the ACT to one’s essay-writing score on the SAT. Those students applying for Fall 2018 college and university admission (and later) in the United States are in one of two groups: those who only are concerned with how they do on the required parts of the SAT (EBRW + M) and ACT (E + M + R + S) and those who are concerned with everything we have dissected up to this point AND their optional essay scores. This is because only forty-seven U.S. colleges and universities (as of October 2017) require or recommend students to take the optional Writing section of the ACT and Essay section of the SAT, but if a college requires or recommends that you submit such scores, you can bet they want them for a reason.

Why do colleges care how you can write on a standardized test? The answer is that increasingly colleges need to assess your writing skills on either the SAT or ACT in order to compare how you performed on these tests to the quality of your college application essay(s). The reason colleges want to compare how you write on a test and on the application is because they want to ensure that you in fact are the author of your application essay(s).

The ACT has two readers review your essays, and each reader gives your essay a score between 1 and 6 for four distinct domains: Ideas and Analysis, Development and Support, Organization, and Language Use and Conventions. Thus, your Writing (essay) score on the ACT is the average of these scores. The full ACT essay-scoring rubric is available here.

While the SAT, just like the ACT, has two readers review your essay, these two readers assign your essay three distinct scores - for Reading, Analysis, and Writing - ranging from 1 to 4. The two scores given to each of these three dimensions are then added. Thus, you will receive three scores for your essay that individually will range from 2 to 8 and cumulatively range from 6 to 24. The entire SAT scoring rubric is available here.

The forty-seven U.S. colleges and universities that currently require or recommend that applicants take the optional SAT Essay or ACT Writing sections include Abilene Christian University, Amherst College, Austin College, Binghamton University - SUNY, Brown University, California Institute of Technology, Chapman University, Claremont McKenna College, Colby College, College of Charleston, Concordia College - Moorhead, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Hampden-Sydney College, Harvard University, Michigan State University, Morehouse College, Occidental College, Oregon State University, Pomona College, Princeton University, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Newark, Simmons College, Soka University of America, Stanford University, Stony Brook University - SUNY, Taylor University, United States Coast Guard Academy, United States Military Academy, University of California - Berkeley, University of California - Davis, University of California - Irvine, University of California - Los Angeles, University of California - Merced, University of California - Riverside, University of California - San Diego, University of California - Santa Barbara, University of California - Santa Cruz, University of Delaware, University of Miami, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, University of San Diego, University of Texas - Dallas, and Yale University.

Why this Site is Valuable

While competitive colleges will review how you did on your ACT or SAT essay, the scores that matter to most to ALL colleges when comparing how you did on one test versus how you did on the other test are the scores that this site asks you to report and convert above.

First, colleges are comparing your SAT composite (EBRW + M) score to your ACT composite (E + M + R + S) score. Then, colleges will also compare your SAT Essay score to your ACT Writing (essay) score.

Comparing your SAT and ACT scores is incredibly frustrating if you don't do it the right way. The above conversion calculators are valuable because they help you see things from the perspective of college admissions officers as they review test scores from students. Your job as a student is to put your best foot forward on your college application. This site helps you do just that by allowing you to gauge which test is your best test.

But Wait. There May be More …

The vast majority of students applying to colleges that require or recommend standardized tests to be submitted for admissions consideration need not worry about anything other than what you read above. Yet, for a small and elite group of top students, additional test scores are necessary to report (in addition to exemplary grades, impressive extracurricular activities, a well-written application, and in some cases, a strong interview) in order to get into America's very best colleges. A handful of colleges - the likes of Harvard, Stanford, and Georgetown, among others - require or recommend that students submit their SAT and/or ACT results AND submit scores from one or more tests known as SAT Subject Tests.

Similar to the sections of the SAT, these tests have scaled scores ranging from 200 to 800, but unlike the SAT, these tests are purely content-based, take only one hour each, and cover exotic subjects like Physics, German, and World History. You can take up to three SAT Subject Tests in one day. To be a competitive candidate for admission to most Ivy League and Ivy League-level colleges, plan on taking two or three SAT Subject Tests at the end of the academic year in which you have taken a rigorous course in one of the following content areas:

  • Literature
  • Biology E/M
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • U.S. History
  • World History
  • Mathematics Level 1
  • Mathematics Level 2
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Modern Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Latin
  • French with Listening
  • German with Listening
  • Spanish with Listening
  • Chinese with Listening
  • Japanese with Listening
  • Korean with Listening

Never take a real SAT Subject Test before first taking a practice SAT Subject Test at home. This advice is important because you don't want to bomb an SAT Subject Test since it is hard to take it multiple times with the expectation of doing much better from one test to the next. You either know the content or you don't. Just because you do well in, say, your high school Spanish V class does not mean you will do well on the SAT Subject Test in Spanish because the latter could be testing grammar and other content that don't figure into your success in the classroom. The best SAT Subject Test preparation books are The Official Study Guide for ALL SAT Subject Tests, 2nd Edition if you are practicing a sampling of SAT Subject Test options, The Official SAT Subject Tests in Mathematics Levels 1 & 2 Study Guide if you are practicing for either the Math Level 1 or Math Level 2 SAT Subject Tests, and The Official SAT Subject Tests in U.S. & World History Study Guide if you are practicing for the U.S. History or World History SAT Subject Tests.

Most colleges that require, recommend, or favorably consider submission of SAT Subject Test scores as part of a student's application are looking for scores of 700 or higher on such tests in order to be a competitive candidate for admission. Good luck with that!

The eighty-five American/Canadian colleges and universities that, as of October 2017, require, recommend, or favorably consider submission of strong SAT Subject Test scores with a student’s application are Amherst College, Babson College, Barnard College, Bates College, Boston College, Boston University, Bowdoin College, Brown University, Bucknell University, California Institute of Technology, Carleton College, Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University, Claremont McKenna, Colby College, College of William & Mary, Colorado College, Columbia University, Connecticut College, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Davidson College, Duke University, Emory University, Franklin Olin College of Engineering, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Hamilton College, Harvard University, Harvey Mudd College, Ithaca College, Johns Hopkins University, Kenyon College, Lafayette College, Macalester College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, McGill University, Middlebury College, New York University, Northwestern University, Oberlin College, Occidental College, Pomona College, Pratt Institute, Princeton University, Reed College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rice University, Scripps College, Smith College, Stanford University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Swarthmore College, The Cooper Union, Tufts University, Union College, University of California - Berkeley, University of California - Davis, University of California - Irvine, University of California - Los Angeles, University of California - Merced, University of California - Riverside, University of California - San Diego, University of California - Santa Barbara, University of California - Santa Cruz, University of Chicago, University of Delaware, University of Georgia, University of Miami, University of Michigan, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, University of Pennsylvania, University of Rochester, University of Southern California, University of Virginia, Vanderbilt University, Vassar College, Wake Forest University, Washington University in St. Louis, Webb Institute, Wellesley College, Wesleyan University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Yale University.

Not Ever Going to Be a Fan of Standardized Tests?

Fairtest.org has a list of colleges that don't require the SAT or ACT. While the number of colleges is still relatively small, it is growing as more colleges realize that a student is far more than a score. Narrowing one's college search to only test-optional colleges will greatly limit one's choices; however, it will save one the time it takes to engage in SAT-ACT score comparison.

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