Compass Education Group

SAT Essay Scores Explained

On january 19th, 2021, college board announced that they will no longer administer the sat subject tests in the u.s. and that the essay would be retired. read our blog post  to understand what this means in the near term and what the college board has in store for students down the road., our articles on subject tests and the sat essay will remain on our site for reference purposes as colleges and students transition to a revised testing landscape..

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Why are there no percentiles for the essay on an SAT score report?

No percentiles or norms are provided in student reports. Even colleges do not receive any summary statistics. Given Compass’ concerns about the inaccuracy of essay scoring and the notable failures of the ACT on that front, the de-emphasis of norms would seem to be a good thing. The problem is that 10% of colleges are sticking with the SAT Essay as an admission requirement . While those colleges will not receive score distribution reports from the College Board, it is not difficult for them to construct their own statistics—officially or unofficially—based on thousands of applicants. Colleges can determine a “good score,” but students cannot. This asymmetry of information is harmful to students, as they are left to speculate how well they have performed and how their scores will be interpreted. Through our analysis, Compass hopes to provide students and parents more context for evaluating SAT Essay scores.

How has scoring changed? Is it still part of a student’s Total Score?

On the old SAT, the essay was a required component of the Writing section and made up approximately one-third of a student’s 200–800 score. The essay score itself was simply the sum (2–12) of two readers’ 1–6 scores. Readers were expected to grade holistically and not to focus on individual components of the writing. The SAT essay came under a great deal of criticism for being too loosely structured. Factual accuracy was not required; it was not that difficult to make pre-fabricated material fit the prompt; many colleges found the 2–12 essay scores of little use; and the conflation of the essay and “Writing” was, in some cases, blocking the use of the SAT Writing score—which included grammar and usage—entirely.

With the 2016 overhaul of the SAT came an attempt to make the essay more academically defensible while also making it optional (as the ACT essay had long been). The essay score is not a part of the 400–1600 score. Instead, a student opting to take the SAT Essay receives 2–8 scores in three dimensions: reading, analysis, and writing. No equating or fancy lookup table is involved. The scores are simply the sum of two readers’ 1–4 ratings in each dimension. There is no official totaling or averaging of scores, although colleges may choose to do so.

Readers avoid extremes

What is almost universally true about grading of standardized test essays is that readers gravitate to the middle of the scale. The default instinct is to nudge a score above or below a perceived cutoff or midpoint rather than to evenly distribute scores. When the only options are 1, 2, 3, or 4, the consequence is predictable—readers give out a lot of 2s and 3s and very few 1s and 4s. In fact, our analysis shows that 80% of all reader scores are 2s or 3s. This, in turn, means that most of the dimension scores (the sum of the two readers) range from 4 to 6. Analysis scores are outliers. A third of readers give essays a 1 in Analysis. Below is the distribution of reader scores across all dimensions.

What is a good SAT Essay score?

By combining multiple data sources—including extensive College Board scoring information—Compass has estimated the mean and mode (most common) essay scores for students at various score levels. We also found that the reading and writing dimensions were similar, while analysis scores lagged by a point across all sub-groups. These figures should not be viewed as cutoffs for “good” scores. The loose correlation of essay score to Total Score and the high standard deviation of essay scores means that students at all levels see wide variation of scores. The average essay-taking student scores a 1,080 on the SAT and receives just under a 5/4/5.

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College Board recently released essay results for the class of 2017, so score distributions are now available. From these, percentiles can also be calculated. We provide these figures with mixed feelings. On the one hand, percentile scores on such an imperfect measure can be highly misleading. On the other hand, we feel that students should understand the full workings of essay scores.

The role of luck

What is frustrating to many students on the SAT and ACT is that they can score 98th percentile in most areas and then get a “middling” score on the essay. This result is actually quite predictable. Whereas math and verbal scores are the result of dozens of objective questions, the essay is a single question graded subjectively. To replace statistical concepts with a colloquial one—far more “luck” is involved than on the multiple-choice sections. What text is used in the essay stimulus? How well will the student respond to the style and subject matter? Which of the hundreds of readers were assigned to grade the student’s essay? What other essays has the reader recently scored?

Even good writers run into the unpredictability involved and the fact that essay readers give so few high scores. A 5 means that the Readers A and B gave the essay a 2 and a 3, respectively. Which reader was “right?” If the essay had encountered two readers like Reader A, it would have received a 4. If the essay had been given two readers like Reader B, it would have received a 6. That swing makes a large difference if we judge scores exclusively by percentiles, but essay scores are simply too blurry to make such cut-and-dry distinctions. More than 80% of students receive one of three scores—4, 5, or 6 on the reading and writing dimensions and 3, 4, or 5 on analysis.

What do colleges expect?

It’s unlikely that many colleges will release a breakdown of essay scores for admitted students—especially since so few are requiring it. What we know from experience with the ACT , though, is that even at the most competitive schools in the country, the 25th–75th percentile scores of admitted students were 8–10 on the ACT’s old 2–12 score range. We expect that things will play out similarly for the SAT and that most students admitted to highly selective colleges will have domain scores in the 5–7 range (possibly closer to 4–6 for analysis). It’s even less likely for students to average a high score across all three areas than it is to obtain a single high mark. We estimate that only a fraction of a percent of students will average an 8—for example [8/8/8, 7/8/8, 8/7/8, or 8,8,7].

Update as of October 2017. The University of California system has published the 25th–75th percentile ranges for enrolled students. It has chosen to work with total scores. The highest ranges—including those at UCLA and Berkeley—are 17–20. Those scores are inline with our estimates above.

How will colleges use the domain scores?

Colleges have been given no guidance by College Board on how to use essay scores for admission. Will they sum the scores? Will they average them? Will they value certain areas over others? Chances are that if you are worrying too much about those questions, then you are likely losing sight of the bigger picture. We know of no cases where admission committees will make formulaic use of essay scores. The scores are a very small, very error-prone part of a student’s testing portfolio.

How low is too low?

Are 3s and 4s, then, low enough that an otherwise high-scoring student should retest? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. In general, it is a mistake to retest solely to improve an essay score unless a student is confident that the SAT Total Score can be maintained or improved. A student with a 1340 PSAT and 1280 SAT may feel that it is worthwhile to bring up low essay scores because she has previously shown that she can do better on the Evidence-based Reading and Writing and Math, as well. A student with a 1400 PSAT and 1540 SAT should think long and hard before committing to a retest. Admission results from the class of 2017 may give us some added insight into the use of SAT Essay scores.

Will colleges continue to require the SAT Essay?

For the class of 2017, Compass has prepared a list of the SAT Essay and ACT Writing policies for 360 of the top colleges . Several of the largest and most prestigious public university systems—California, Michigan, and Texas, for example, still require the essay, and a number of highly competitive private colleges do the same—for example, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford.

The number of excellent colleges not requiring the SAT Essay, though, is long and getting longer. Compass expects even more colleges to drop the essay requirement for the classes of 2018 and 2019. Policies are typically finalized in late spring or during the summer.

Should I skip the essay entirely?

A common question regarding SAT scores is whether the whole mess can be avoided by skipping the essay. After all, if only about 10% of colleges are requiring the section, is it really that important? Despite serious misgivings about the test and the ways scores are interpreted, Compass still recommends that most students take the essay unless they are certain that they will not be applying to any of the colleges requiring or recommending it. Nationally, about 70% of students choose to take the essay on at least one SAT administration. When looking at higher scoring segments, that quickly rises to 85–90%. Almost all Compass students take the SAT Essay at least once to insure that they do not miss out on educational opportunities.

Should I prepare for the SAT Essay?

Most Compass students decide to do some preparation for the essay, because taking any part of a test “cold” can be an unpleasant experience, and students want to avoid feeling like a retake is necessary. In addition to practicing exercises and tests, most students can perform well enough on the SAT Essay after 1–2 hours of tutoring. Students taking a Compass practice SAT will also receive a scored essay. Students interested in essay writing tips for the SAT can refer to Compass blog posts on the difference between the ACT and SAT tasks  and the use of first person on the essays .

Will I be able to see my essay?

Yes. ACT makes it difficult to obtain a copy of your Writing essay, but College Board includes it as part of your online report.

Will colleges have access to my essay? Even if they don’t require it?

Yes, colleges are provided with student essays. We know of very few circumstances where SAT Essay reading is regularly conducted. Colleges that do not require the SAT Essay fall into the “consider” and “do not consider” camps. Schools do not always list this policy on their website or in their application materials, so it is hard to have a comprehensive list. We recommend contacting colleges for more information. In general, the essay will have little to no impact at colleges that do not require or recommend it.

Is the SAT Essay a reason to take the ACT instead?

Almost all colleges that require the SAT Essay require Writing for ACT-takers. The essays are very different on the two tests, but neither can be said to be universally “easier” or “harder.” Compass recommends that the primary sections of the tests determine your planning. Compass’ content experts have also written a piece on how to attack the ACT essay .

Key links in this post:

ACT and SAT essay requirements ACT Writing scores explained Comparing ACT and SAT essay tasks The use of first person in ACT and SAT essays Understanding the “audience and purpose” of the ACT essay Compass proctored practice testing for the ACT, SAT, and Subject Tests

Art Sawyer

About Art Sawyer

Art graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, where he was the top-ranked liberal arts student in his class. Art pioneered the one-on-one approach to test prep in California in 1989 and co-founded Compass Education Group in 2004 in order to bring the best ideas and tutors into students' homes and computers. Although he has attained perfect scores on all flavors of the SAT and ACT, he is routinely beaten in backgammon.

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Hi! I’m a high school junior who took the October and November SATs. I got a 1500 on October and then retook it to get a 1590 in November. I’m very happy with my score, but my essays are troubling me. I got a 6-4-6 in October and thought I would improve in November, but I got a 6-3-6. I really cannot improve my actual SAT score, but I don’t understand the essay. I’ve always been a good writer and have consistently been praised for it in English class and outside of class. Is this essay score indicative of my writing skill? And will this essay hurt my chances at Ivy League and other top tier schools? None of the schools I plan on applying to require it, but, since I have to submit it, will it hurt my chances? Thank you so much.

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Maya, The essay is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Honestly, a 6-4-6 is a fine score and will not hurt your chances for admission. It’s something of an odd writing task, so I wouldn’t worry that it doesn’t match your writing skills elsewhere.

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SAT Essay Scores: How To Get A Perfect Score

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Many students ask me about SAT essay scores and request an example of an SAT essay with a perfect score.

I will share my response below and explain why this SAT essay example fulfills all the scoring requirements. There are four simple tips you can apply when completing the essay portion of the SAT that will allow you to replicate a perfect score on the SAT essay, which we will cover below!

How Are SAT Essays Scored?

student practicing sat essay

According to the College Board , SAT essays are scored using a specific process. Additionally, the College Board states that every official scorer is trained to ensure all students are held to the same exacting standards listed below.

  • Every essay will be read and scored by two different scorers.
  • The scores for each dimension from both scorers are added together
  • You will receive three separate scores—one for each of the dimensions listed above—that range from 2 to 8 points
  • The SAT Essay score will not be a composite score in which all of the scores are added together, nor are there percentiles

What Is A Perfect SAT Essay Score

Based on the criteria from above, a perfect score on the SAT essay would be three scores of 8 .

In other words, you will need to score a 4 from each scorer in each dimension.

Here’s what a perfect score on the SAT essay will look like:

SAT Essay Example Assignment & Answer

Now that we know how SAT essays are scored, let’s take a look at the example I promised to share with you earlier. Then we’ll discuss how you can earn a perfect score on your SAT essay.

Example SAT Essay Assignment:

“Is it wise to be suspicious of the motives or honesty of other people, even those who appear to be trustworthy? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.”

Example of a Perfect Scoring SAT Essay Answer:

The quagmire of whether to trust categorically or to bring skepticism into all interactions is one that has plagued mankind since inception. From one perspective, to trust is to engage in humanity; however, from another angle, humans are a self-promoting species who will advance themselves while thwarting the less shrewd, if allowed. In the end, the answer is clear and evident: as proven through examples in history, literature, and current events, it is obvious that it is always better to enter interactions with a sense of cynicism toward all others.

Historically, Abraham Lincoln was an exemplar proving that it is always best to be skeptical of the motives of others. When he called upon the know how of General William Tecumseh Sherman, he was not without his doubts as to the motives of the once-radical general.

( Filler…………..Filler……………Filler……………Doesn’t matter what you write here because the introduction and the first two sentences the second paragraph were so strong……..Filler…………Filler……….Filler )*

Hence, Lincoln was a superlative leader not only because of his political acumen, but because of his persistent doubt of the morals and morays of other people.

Even in current times, the collapse of the housing market is a supreme example outlining the necessity of doubting the motives of others. Loan officers in the late ’90s encouraged homeowners to purchase with 100% loan-to-value ration, and because homeowners were not skeptical of this proposition, they found themselves upside down owing more than their house was worth

( ………..Filler……………………… )*

The literature of Dostoevsky confirms what history and current events have suggested: it is always better to be skeptical of others as demonstrated by the character  Ivan Fyodorovich in The Brothers  Karamazov. Vanka never lets down his guard in dealing with others, and resultantly is the only truly successful and fulfilled character in the novel

The debate of whether to trust everyone until he or she errs, or to be guarded against the motives of others is not lost in history, literature, or current events. Each tells us that it is far better and even necessary to doubt the motives of our cohort

(*Note: when you read “Filler…” in the SAT essay example, I just mean to write pretty much anything that is on topic—it doesn’t matter.)

And… done. ..

4 Things You Need To Do For A Perfect SAT Essay Score

Were you able to identify any of the four characteristics that make the example assignment answer earn a perfect SAT essay score?

They might be more obvious than you think!

What Earns A Perfect SAT Essay Score?

In a nutshell…

  • A lot of writing
  • Very high-level examples
  • Clean, easy to follow logic

That’s all it takes.

That wasn’t so difficult, right?

SAT Essay Scoring FAQ

What is the most important thing to do when writing an ACT and SAT essay? Is it development, mechanics, originality or something else?

In this order:

  • You have to write legibly. If they can’t read it, you’re going to do very poorly.
  • You have to abide by the standard conventions of English. If you do not use complete sentences, if you avoid punctuation, or if you abuse capitalization or paragraph rules, you will do very poorly.
  • You must address the question. Immaculate writing that is off-topic will receive a very low score.
  • Clearly identify your points.
  • Develop your points
  • Use strong varied language
  • Use unique arguments
  • Be original

How Can I Cheat on the SAT?

I am assuming your intentions are to explore the question as an intellectual experiment, and not to actually cheat on the SAT . With that in mind, the way most people are able to cheat on the SAT is mostly through one of the following methods:

  • identity fraud
  • access to the material early (either by accident or intentionally)
  • communication during the test

I suggest reading my article, How Can I Cheat on the SAT? , for more insight on this controversial topic.

When should my student take the SAT?

Unfortunately, there is no one single answer to this question. It depends on many factors including where your student is starting out from, which school they hope to get into, and how much prep time they will need. I wrote a comprehensive guide on when to take the SAT which includes many helpful and actionable tips to help you formulate the perfect plan for SAT test prep and when the best time for your student is to take the SAT. Read When To Take The SAT: Ideal Timeline .

Can you get a good score on the SAT if you’re taking it for the first time and studied for only a month?

That depends on what your starting score is and on what you consider “good.” There are too many factors to be able to answer this with any sense of certainty.

What I can tell you is how to make sure you have the highest likelihood of the largest improvement in the time you have. The tips and test prep techniques I outline in this article will show you how to do just that.

Does “Test Optional” mean optional for me?

We are all familiar with the difference between “optional” (it makes no difference whether you do or don’t) and “ optional ” (technically you can choose this, but you probably shouldn’t).

Just because a school touts a “testing optional” policy does not mean that they want all their applicants to forgo tests. However, the answer to this question depends on some specifics that will vary among students.

Read this article to help you understand what “testing optional” really means for students like you .

Everything You Need To Know About The SAT and ACT Tests:

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Boost Your SAT Score 100 Points Or More

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Remember, the SAT essay score is only one portion of the SAT test.

(Not to mention the SAT essay is technically optional .)

Many of the Ivy League schools don’t require the essay portion of the test , although I do recommend that students still complete the essay .

While the tips we’ve just covered will help you earn higher marks on the essay, it’s even more important to study and prep for the main sections of the SAT.

Here’s why:

Getting accepted to a top-tier college or university is more competitive than ever—and along with GPA and extracurricular activities, your child’s SAT score is one of the most important factors for gaining acceptance to the Ivy Leagues or other elite schools.

It’s also the only factor that can be substantially improved in a short period of time.

At Powerful Prep, we have a proven test prep method that does just that.

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The CollegeVine Guide to SAT Scores: All Your Questions Answered

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If you’re like many high school students, the hardest part of the SAT isn’t the hours of prep work that you put into it. Yes, that’s definitely hard, but at least you have some control over it. There’s some reassurance in being able to direct your time towards productive and, hopefully, satisfying results. What’s harder for many students like you is the time between your test and your score release. There’s nothing you can do to speed the process, so waiting patiently (or impatiently) is your only option.

If you’re awaiting SAT scores, or perhaps you’ve just received them, you might be wondering how your test is scored, what the scores mean, or even what to do if you believe your SAT score is incorrect. Read on for CollegeVine’s answers to all your SAT score questions.

How is the SAT scored?

Most of your SAT answers were multiple-choice bubbles that you meticulously filled in with a #2 pencil. Even the grid-in math questions involved those tiny little bubbles. So it’s probably no surprise that those bubbles play an integral part in scoring your exam. With millions of students taking SAT or PSAT-related exams each year, the ability to score each exam quickly and efficiently is beyond important. After all, imagine how long the wait would be if each test had to be scored by hand.

What is a raw score?

Multiple-choice and grid-in answers are scored by a computer that scans your answer sheet. This computer produces your raw score, which, simply speaking, is the number of questions answered correctly. Beginning in spring 2016, there is no penalty on the SAT for incorrect or unanswered questions, so your raw score simply accounts for the number of questions that you answered correctly.

A separate raw score is produced for the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section and for the Math section. Each of these scores is then converted to a scaled score of 200 to 800. This conversion accounts for slight differences in difficulty among different versions of the test, so your resulting score is consistent across test forms.

How is the SAT essay scored?

If you took the optional essay section of the SAT, you will remember that this portion of the test was the one that did not involve those little bubbled-in answers. Instead, you produced a written product, which obviously must be scored quite differently from a computer-scanned answer sheet.

Each essay written for the SAT is scored by two separate and independent readers. The readers evaluate essays on three dimensions. These dimensions include reading, analysis, and writing.

For the reading dimension, scorers assess your understanding of the passage, including central ideas and important details. For the analysis dimension, scorers evaluate your understanding of how the author builds an argument and how you support and develop your ideas with evidence from the text. Finally, for the writing dimension, essay readers score your ability to craft a focused, organized, and precise essay with appropriate style and tone.

Each essay reader will award between one and four points for each dimension. These scores are then added together to create a score ranging from two to eight for each dimension. If the scores awarded for any dimension differ by more than one point, a scoring director will score the essay. This automatic validation helps to ensure the universal accuracy of the essay scoring process. For more information about the SAT Essay scoring process, including a rubric of scoring guidelines for each dimension, review the College Board’s SAT Essay Scoring .

When will I receive my SAT score?

The release date for SAT scores varies depending on when you took the test. Tests administered in the fall are usually scored and released in about three to four weeks. Tests administered in the spring tend to take a little longer, probably due to the large volume of students taking them. These are scored and released in about five to six weeks. For an exact calendar of score release dates organized by test date, check out the College Board’s table of When to Expect Scores .

How will I receive my SAT score?

Sat scores online.

The easiest way to receive your SAT score is through the College Board website. If you registered for the test online, you have already created an online College Board account. Log in to your account on the score release day to view your results.

SAT Scores By Paper Score Report

If you do not have an online College Board account, or you registered through the mail and did not include your College Board account on your registration, you will receive a copy of your scores in the mail. This will be mailed around the same day that scores are released online.

SAT Scores By Phone

You may also receive your SAT scores by telephone beginning on the date of the score release, but there is a fee attached to this service and you will need to provide a credit card number when you call. To receive scores by phone use the following phone numbers:

Domestic: 866-756-7346

International: 212-713-7789

TTY: 888-857-2477 (U.S.), 609-882-4118 (international)

What do my SAT scores mean?

When you receive your scores, you’re probably expecting a number between 400 and 1600. You will get this, and a whole lot more, on your official SAT score report. So what do all these different numbers mean?

SAT Total Scores

This is the number you’re probably most familiar with when it comes to SAT scores. It is a single number between 400 and 1600 and represents your total score. This total score is calculated by adding your score from the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section (200-800) with your total score from the Math section (200-800). You will also receive a percentile accompanying your total score. This number shows you how your score compares to the scores received by other students taking the SAT.

SAT Section Scores

These are the individual section scores between 200 and 800 for the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section and the Math section. The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score is a combination of the Reading Test score and the Writing and Language Test score. The Math section score is a combination of the Math Test – Calculator score and the Math Test – No Calculator score.

SAT Essay Scores

The SAT Essay scores will include three scored dimensions. The dimensions scored are Reading, Analysis, and Writing. Each dimension is scored on a scale from two to eight points. The score report will show the prompt you responded to, your essay itself, and a link to the Essay Scoring Guide .

Other Score Components

Although the total scores, section scores, and essay scores are the most important numbers on your score report, they are not the only numbers.

You will also receive test scores ranging from 10-40 for the content in each of the tests: Reading, Writing and Language, and Math.

You will see cross-test scores ranging from 10-40 as well. These scores show your performance across the three tests in the domains of Analysis in History/Social Studies and Analysis in Science.

Finally, you’ll see subscores ranging from 1-15, which reflect your performance in the following skill areas:

  • Command of Evidence
  • Words in Context
  • Expression of Ideas
  • Standard English Conventions
  • Heart of Algebra
  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis
  • Passport to Advanced Math

Although these scores aren’t necessarily important to colleges or universities, they can be used as feedback to guide your studying for any future SAT exams you might choose to take.

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Discover how your SAT score affects your chances

As part of our free guidance platform, our Admissions Assessment tells you what schools you need to improve your SAT score for and by how much. Sign up to get started today.

Is my SAT score good enough for schools?

There is no standard SAT score required for college admissions. The exact range of SAT scores admitted to each college varies widely depending on how competitive the school’s admissions are and the various other factors considered on every application, such as grades and extracurricular activities. To get an idea of the SAT scores expected at the college or university of your choice, look them up online. A simple online search query with the college name and the term “average SAT score” should yield the results for which you’re looking.

Although there is no minimum SAT score required for general college admissions, the College Board does set benchmarks that assess your college readiness. These benchmarks are designed to:

  • Identify students who are on track for success in college and career readiness.
  • Identify students who may need extra support while there is still time for improvement.
  • Find students who may be ready for more challenging course work.

The benchmarks are not intended to assign academic tracks, discourage students from pursuing college, or keep students from participating in challenging courses. Instead, these benchmarks are designed by the College Board to predict a 75% likelihood of achieving at least a C in a set of first-semester college courses.

The benchmarks are set separately for each section. The current Evidence-Based Reading and Writing benchmark score is 480. The current Math benchmark score is 530. Your score report will include your performance compared to the benchmark scores. This comparison is categorized by color with the following designations:

  • Green: Your section score meets or exceeds the benchmark.
  • Yellow: Your section score is within one year’s academic growth of the benchmark.
  • Red: Your section score is below the benchmark by more than one year’s academic growth.

How do I send my SAT scores to schools?

Sending sat scores before test day.

Every time you register for the SAT, you can order four free score reports to colleges and scholarship programs at no cost to you. This is a good choice because it’s the only free option available, and many colleges will view your early submission as a demonstration of your interest.

Although some students might hesitate to send scores before you know them, if this is likely the last time that you’re taking the test or your test date falls close to the application deadline, you should definitely consider taking advantage of the free score reports. For more information about sending test scores before you’ve received them, read CollegeVine’s Should I Send My Test Scores To Colleges Before I Know Them?

Sending SAT Scores After Test Day

There are two scenarios for sending scores after test day. If you leave the test on cloud nine and you are certain that you aced it, you can still take advantage of the four free score reports up to nine days after the test. Simply log in to your College Board account online and send your scores.

If you wait longer, or would rather postpone sending any scores until you’ve seen them yourself, you’ll still be able to send scores easily through your online College Board account, but you’ll have to pay to do so. These score reports are $12 each ( fee waivers are available if needed). A rush report is an additional $31.

What should I do if I think my SAT was scored incorrectly?

There are a couple levels of review available if you think your SAT was scored incorrectly.

Student Answer Service (SAS)

First, if you just have an inkling that something is off but aren’t totally sure, you can request a Student Answer Verification. This service includes an overview of the difficulty of each question answered correctly, incorrectly, or omitted and of the type of test questions.

Essentially, the Student Answer Service is a more specific overview of your performance for you to look over. It is not reviewed by anyone else, but is provided for your own personal use to better understand what went wrong (or right!). If your SAS report reveals that you got every difficult question wrong, it’s likely that your exam was graded correctly, and you may not have realized how hard those questions actually were at the time of the exam.

This answer verification service is not designed to be used as a test prep or practice tool. You may request this service when you register for the test or up to five months after your test date. The fee for this service is $13.50. See the SAT Answer Verification Services Order Form for 2016-17 for more information.

Question and Answer Service (QAS)

You may also choose to receive a Question and Answer Verification Service on select exam administrations. This service is available for all May administrations of the test, and for other select administrations within Canada and the U.S. For a calendar of availability for this service, see the SAT Answer Verification Services Order Form for 2016-17 .

The Question and Answer Service includes a booklet copy of the test you took with a table of correct answers and scoring information. You will also receive a report that lists the type and level of difficulty of each question, along with what your answer was, and whether it was correct, incorrect, or omitted. Again, this service does not include a review by anyone else, but is provided for your own personal use to better understand where you failed to gain points. This service costs $18.00.

Score Verification

If you still don’t think your test was scored correctly, you may request a score verification. This is a good idea if your score is very different from what you expected and you believe you may have made an obvious mistake in marking your answers, or if your essay appears blank or completely illegible when you view it in your online score report. In this case, you may have written your essay in ink (which does not scan properly), and it would not have been assessed appropriately.

You may request a multiple-choice hand score verification and/or an essay score verification. Each service costs $55 (or $27.50 for fee-waiver users). Your score verification fee will be refunded if your score changes because of an irregularity in the College Board’s scanning and/or scoring processes. If your score does not change, if it changes due to an obvious error you made in marking your answer sheet, or if you wrote your essay in pen, or otherwise failed to follow directions for marking your answers and completing test information, your fee will not be refunded.

Keep in mind when requesting score verification that your new score will be final, regardless of whether it is higher or lower than your original score. Also, you should know that the verification of essay scores does not include rereading the essay or an appeal of the essay score. It simply reviews the essay visually to ensure that it was legible to the original readers who scored it.

For more about score verification services, check out the College Board’s Important Information for Using the SAT® Score Verification Service .

To learn more about the SAT, check out these CollegeVine posts:

  • ACT vs SAT/SAT Subject Tests
  • Are PSAT Scores Related to SAT Scores?
  • What Should I Bring to My SAT?
  • A Guide to the New SAT

Want to know how your SAT score impacts your chances of acceptance to your dream schools? Our free Chancing Engine will not only help you predict your odds, but also let you know how you stack up against other applicants, and which aspects of your profile to improve. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to gain access to our Chancing Engine and get a jumpstart on your college strategy!

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SAT Essay Scoring Demystified: What You Need to Know

sat essay score 8

The SAT Essay is an optional component of the SAT that assesses a student's ability to analyze and write about a provided source text. Although the SAT Essay is optional for most colleges and universities, some schools require or recommend it, so it's essential for students to understand how the essay is scored. The SAT Essay is scored on three main criteria: Reading, Analysis, and Writing. Here's what you need to know about SAT Essay scoring:

 1. Reading:

   - The Reading score assesses how well you demonstrate comprehension of the provided source text. You'll need to show that you understand the author's argument, main ideas, and supporting evidence. Your score will be based on how well you demonstrate these skills, as well as your ability to analyze the text's rhetorical features, such as tone, word choice, and structure.

 2. Analysis:

   - The Analysis score evaluates how well you analyze the provided source text and develop your own argument. You'll need to explain how the author builds their argument, including identifying key elements such as claims, evidence, and reasoning. Your score will also depend on how effectively you support your own argument, using evidence from the text to make your case.

 3. Writing:

   - The Writing score assesses your ability to organize and express your ideas clearly and effectively. You'll need to demonstrate a strong command of language, including proper grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. Your score will also depend on how well you use language to convey your ideas and develop your argument.

 4. Scoring Range:

   - Each of the three criteria is scored on a scale of 1 to 4 by two different graders, for a total score of 2 to 8 for each criterion. The two scores for each criterion are then added together to give you a final score for that criterion. The final SAT Essay score is the sum of the scores for each of the three criteria, ranging from 6 to 24.

 5. Scoring Rubric:

   - The College Board provides a detailed scoring rubric that outlines the specific criteria graders use to assess each of the three criteria. The rubric describes the characteristics of essays at each score level, helping you understand what graders are looking for and how you can improve your essay.

 6. Sample Essays:

   - The College Board also provides sample essays that have received different scores, along with annotations explaining why each essay received its score. These sample essays can be a valuable resource for understanding how the SAT Essay is scored and what you can do to improve your own essay.

 7. Practice:

   - The best way to improve your SAT Essay score is through practice. The more you practice writing essays, the more comfortable you'll become with the format and the better you'll understand what graders are looking for. Consider using official SAT Essay prompts, timed practice tests, and essay writing strategies to help you prepare.

 8. Time Management:

   - Remember that the SAT Essay is a timed test, so it's essential to manage your time effectively. Plan your essay before you start writing, and leave yourself enough time to revise and edit your work. Practice writing essays under timed conditions to improve your speed and pacing.

 9. Feedback and Revision:

   - After you receive your SAT Essay score, take the time to review the feedback provided by the graders. Use this feedback to identify areas for improvement and revise your essay accordingly. The ability to revise and improve your work is an essential skill that can help you succeed on the SAT Essay.

 10. Considerations:

   - Keep in mind that while the SAT Essay can be an important part of your college application, it's just one component among many. Colleges and universities consider a variety of factors when making admissions decisions, so focus on doing your best on all aspects of the SAT and your overall academic record.

By understanding how the SAT Essay is scored and practicing effectively, you can improve your performance and increase your chances of success on this important component of the SAT.

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SAT Essay Score...

SAT Essay Scores: All about SAT Essay Score Range

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SAT Essay is the one which requires students to read a foundation text and then analyse how the novelist uses several techniques to build their argument. Each SAT Essay entails one passage between 650 and 750 words that students will read and then reply to. Students have 50 minutes to analyse the text and frame their responses. The SAT Essay comprises three main parts:

  •       Reading Prompt
  •       Reading Selection
  •       Essay Instruction

In 2021, College Board made SAT an optional section. It does not affect your overall score of 1600. Instead, your Essay grade stands unaccompanied on your score report. So, to know more about SAT essay score range & much more information on the same. We have curated a guide below about SAT essay scores and their importance with other general information.

SAT Essay Score Ranges: Highest, Good, and Average SAT Scores

Two scorers will assess your essay response. Each grader will allocate SAT essay score range of 1-4 in three categories: Reading, Analysis, and Writing. The highest grade you can achieve is 8 in all 3 sections, and the lowest score can be 2 for each of the three sections of the SAT Essay Paper.

·       Highest SAT Essay Score

The essay SAT score is an optional part of SAT with a self-regulating scoring system, i.e., means essay score is not involved in the total maximum SAT score of 1600. An evaluator will give you between 1 and 4 points for each section. In totality, each dimension is being scored out of 8 likely points. The 3 separate scores out of 8 points mean that the highest possible SAT essay full score is 8-8-8, or 24 total points.

·       Good SAT Essay Score

Any SAT score above the 50th SAT essay score percentiles, or median, is measured as a good result since it designates that you have done good out of the majority of students. A 50th percentile score, on the other side, will not be sufficient at most admired universities. Depending on how competitive the student pool is, the standard for a high SAT score rises meaningly. This is why it’s usually a good idea to aim for a 1200 or above score.

·       Average SAT Essay Score

There are diverse ways and parameters for calculating the average SAT Essay Scores. However, an average SAT Essay score is 14 out of 24 points for all three sections. The average SAT essay score range is 5 out of 8 for the Reading section, 3 out of 8 for the Analysis Section, and 5 out of 8 for Writing.

Everything about SAT Exam Pattern

Why is SAT Essay Score Important?

SAT essay, however, is a completely different exercise: it's a 50-minute rhetorical analysis essay at the end of a three-hour test. According to the College Board's SAT Suite of Assessments Annual Report, 68% of students chose to take the essay. The SAT essay requires you to analyse a convincing argument. Topics for the passage can vary significantly but will always be about an argument written for an extensive audience.

 The SAT essay gives you a track to polish it. You can show off your creativity, critical thinking skills, and writing. You can also highlight the colleges where you're enthusiastic about going the extra mile.

What Is Considered A Good SAT Score to Study Abroad?

How to Prepare for SAT Essay?

Success on the SAT score with Essay depends on preparation as well as implementation. Here are a few tips that an undergraduate student can go through to prepare well for the SAT essay score.

1.       Study Sample Passages and SAT Essay Prompts

To understand the concept of the SAT essay, go through study sample passages to get high scores in each of the scoring sections, and take time to analyse example SAT essay prompts. As you go through each of the example passages and consistent responses, study how and why the author used to sign, reasoning, and stylistic or persuasive elements.

2.       Understand the SAT Essay Scoring System

Two readers will score your Essay distinctly and allocate a score of 1 to 4 for each of the 3 sections that include reading, analysis, and writing. Your analysis score will imitate how well your essay analyses how the author went about urging the audience. Also, SAT essay score reports offer these three distinct scores, each on a 2 to 8 scale.

3.       Begin with an Outline

An outline helps you plan your writing by giving you a clear logic of direction when transitioning from one point to the next. Planning out your method for an introduction, body, and conclusion when the content is fresh in your mind will safeguard that you don't reach the end of your answer with blocks in your argument.

4.       Make Time for Edits

After making all the approaches and figuring out how to write SAT essay, aim to take out some time in the end for review. In doing so, you may catch misunderstood information or find other ways to extra build on the points you made in your response.

SAT Preparation Books to Ace Your Score

The choice is eventually yours to take SAT essay or not, but there are pros to taking the SAT with Essay even if a college or university you're interested in doesn't require it. A clear profit would be that it opens up your possible college choices, regardless of what you've decided on presently. Besides, if you want to know about SAT Score and other information, connect with our Yocket Counsellors and get 15 min free consultation to clear your queries efficiently.

Frequently Asked Questions about SAT Essay Score

What is a good score on SAT essay?

A good SAT essay score would be three 8's; that's a 4 from both graders in all three categories.

Which colleges abroad require SAT Essay?

There are some colleges abroad where SAT essay is required: 1) Benedictine University 2) City University London 3) Delaware State University 4) University of North Texas 5) Dominican University of California 6) DeSales University 7) Western Carolina University 8) Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Is the SAT Essay mandatory?

In June 2021, the College Board chose to discontinue the SAT essay. Now, only students in a few states and school regions still have access to and must complete the SAT essay. This obligation applies to some students in the SAT School Day program.

Is 22 a good SAT essay score?

If you can achieve above 22 out of 24, it is the highest SAT score.

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Tools & Calculators

Digital sat® score calculator.

  • The Albert Team
  • Last Updated On: March 26, 2024

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Are you preparing for the Digital SAT® (DSAT®) exam and curious about your potential score? You’ve come to the right place! With this interactive SAT® score calculator, you can predict how your raw score translates to your SAT® score to answer the common question, “Is my SAT® score good enough?”

Educators : Albert offers free trials to all qualified schools and districts!

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Digital SAT® Legacy Pen-and-Paper

Looking for SAT® study materials for the new digital format?

What is the digital sat® when is the sat® going digital.

The Digital SAT® (or DSAT®) represents a significant evolution in how the College Board administers and scores the SAT®. Starting in Spring 2024, this new format leverages the benefits of digital testing and adaptivity to assess a student’s capabilities better. Here’s what you need to know about the upcoming test format:

Reading and Writing Modules:

  • Module 1: You will answer 27 questions; your raw score will be the number of correct answers.
  • Adaptive Component: Your performance in Module 1 influences the difficulty of the questions in Reading and Writing Module 2, which also contains 27 questions. Your raw score here again depends on the number of correct answers.
  • Scoring: The raw scores from both modules are combined and converted to your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section Score, ranging from 200 to 800.

Math Modules:

  • Module 1: This section includes 22 questions, with your raw score reflecting the number of correct answers.
  • Adaptive Component: As with reading and writing, your performance in Math Module 1 determines the question set in Math Module 2, which also has 22 questions. Your raw score is based on correct answers.
  • Scoring: The raw scores from both Math modules are combined and converted into your Math Section Score, ranging from 200 to 800.

Revised SAT® Score Calculation:

With the introduction of the DSAT®, the calculation of scores are now:

  • Reading and Writing: The raw scores from both Reading and Writing modules are added and converted to the section score.
  • Math: Similarly, the raw scores from both Math modules are totaled and then converted to the section score.

The total SAT® score, combining the Reading, Writing, and Math sections, will still range from 400 to 1600.

What’s the difference between SAT® raw scores and SAT® scale scores? How do they calculate each ?

Raw Scores: These are simply the number of questions you answer correctly across the modules. There is no penalty for guessing, so your raw score is the total count of correct responses.

Scale Scores: The raw scores are then converted to scale scores for each section. These are between 200-800 for the two sections, to give you a total SAT® score between 400-1600. 

Understanding Raw Scores and Scale Scores in the Digital SAT®

For the DSAT®, this conversion will consider the adaptive nature of the test, ensuring that scores are comparable across different test forms and difficulty levels.

The new Digital SAT® is adaptive. This means that the difficulty of the questions in the second module will be based on your performance in the first module. This ensures a more personalized test experience and allows for a precise measurement of your skills and knowledge.

As we prepare for the launch of the Digital SAT®, we’ve updated our SAT® score calculator to reflect these changes. This tool is invaluable for assessing students’ readiness and predicting their potential performance.

What is a good SAT® score? Decent score? Bad score?

A good SAT® score really depends on the student and their aspirations. For example, if you’re applying to Harvard and have a 1200 SAT® score, you’ll unlikely get in since Harvard’s average score is typically over 1500. However, i f you’re applying to Michigan State University with that same score, that would be competitive for your college application. 

Generally, anything that falls into the top 30% of graduating high school students should be considered a good SAT® score. When you review the 2019 SAT® score trends , you see the nationally representative sample average SAT® score is 1120. The 70th percentile SAT® test taker is 1170. 

The former number compares how students did on the SAT® to an overall sample of all students grades 11-12, regardless of whether or not they took the SAT®. The latter number applies the actual scores of students in the past three graduating classes to the latest SAT®. 

A decent SAT® score would probably be something around the 50th percentile. Using the nationally representative sample, you’d find this to be a 1010. Looking at just SAT® test takers, the 50th percentile SAT® score is between 1050 and 1060. 

A bad SAT® score is quite subjective. But, i f you were looking at it from a percentiles standpoint, it could be any score below the 25th percentile. Looking at the nationally representative sample, this is between 870 and 880. For just SAT® test takers, it’d be a 910. 

Is 1600 a good SAT® score?

Yes! 1600 is not just a good SAT® score; it’s a perfect SAT® score. Like the ACT®, depending on the particular test, there is sometimes leeway on getting a perfect SAT® score. In other words, there are edge cases where you may be able to get one Reading question wrong and still get an 800 for your section score. 

How hard is it to get a 1400 on the SAT®?

It can be pretty tough to score a 1400 on the SAT®. Scoring a 1400 means you’re in the 97th percentile for the nationally representative sample and the 94th percentile among SAT® takers.

Furthermore, if you were to assume you wanted to score a 700 in both sections and you play around with the score calculator above, you’d see that to score a 700 in math, you can only miss around s eve questions on average. 

Then, to score a 700 in Reading and Writing, you’d only be able to miss around seven questions in SAT® Reading and Writing.

Is 1200 a good SAT® score?

A 1200 is a good SAT® score. Reviewing the 2019 SAT® score trends, you’ll see that 1200 equates to the 81st percentile for the nationally representative sample and the 74th percentile for SAT® test takers. This means scoring 1200 on the SAT® puts you in the top quartile of high school students taking the test. 

What is the average SAT® score?

The average SAT® score is typically between 1010 and 1060. This is pulled from the SAT® score trend data in which the 50th percentile for the nationally representative sample was a 1010, and among SAT® test takers, the 50th percentile fell between a 1050 and 1060.

Why is the SAT® exam curved?

The SAT® exam itself is not curved relative to test takers. However , the College Board puts each test through an “equating” process. This process ensures no student receives an advantage or disadvantage from taking a particular for on the SAT® on a particular day. 

In other words, it ensures a test score of 500 equals a test score 500 on an SAT® from another day. 

How do I read my SAT® Score Report?

The College Board provides a helpful short video on how to understand your SAT® score report here .

The first step is navigating to studentscores.collegeboard.org . 

Upon logging in, you’ll see your total SAT® score, which combines your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section and Math Section score. 

In your SAT® Score Report, you’ll also find specifics on your test scores (number correct and incorrect in each section), cross-test scores (how you analyze texts and solve problems that are interdisciplinary with Science and History) and subscores (how you performed on specific key concepts). 

The report color-codes each section so you know exactly where you need to improve. 

You can review the College Board’s PDF resource on reading SAT® Score Reports here .

Why should I use this SAT® score calculator?

We’ve crafted Albert’s SAT® score calculator to align with the latest official practice test curves provided by the College Board. This ensures our calculations are as accurate and current as possible. With the new Digital SAT® format launching in 2024, we’ve updated our calculator to reflect these changes and provide you with reliable score estimates.

We developed this DSAT® score calculator to go beyond the static tables typically used by others. Our interactive tool, complete with sliders, offers a more dynamic and engaging way to visualize your scoring potential. It’s not just about crunching numbers; it’s about providing a motivational and insightful experience to help you identify where you can make the most impactful improvements in your SAT® preparation. With our calculator, you can experiment with different scenarios and see how changes in each section could elevate your overall score to meet your SAT® aspirations.

How do you figure out your SAT® superscore?

To figure out your SAT® superscore, you’ll need to first compile all of the test days you took the DSAT®. Next, look for your highest scores for SAT® Reading and SAT® Math.

So for example, if you earn a 700 on one SAT® Math test, and a 750 on another, you’d choose the 750.

Finally, total your highest scores — this is your DSAT® superscore.  

Looking for extra SAT® practice?

Albert provides hundreds of Digital SAT® practice questions with detailed explanations and full-length practice tests . Get started today!

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2024 NBA playoffs: Schedule, times, TV info for Play-In Tournament with Lakers, Warriors in action Tuesday

The nba's postseason kicks off tuesday night with the play-in tournament.

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The NBA postseason has arrived. Two months of postseason basketball get started on Tuesday night with the opening games of the Play-In Tournament and keep going through the NBA Finals in June. Most playoff seeds were determined on Sunday in a hectic day to close the regular season, but the Play-In Tournament -- which features big names like the Lakers, Warriors, 76ers and Heat -- will set the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in both conferences.  Here's a look at the complete playoff picture .

The postseason gets started with the Play-In Tournament on Tuesday, April 16, and the Play-In will run through Friday, April 19. A reminder on how the Play-In tournament works: No. 7 will play No. 8 in each conference, and No. 9 will play No. 10. The winner of the 7-8 game gets the No. 7 seed, while the loser will face the winner of the 9-10 game for the No. 8 seed.

There will be a twist in the Play-In Tournament schedule this year, too. Both Western Conference games will take place on Tuesday before we get 76ers vs. Heat and Bulls vs. Hawks in the East on Wednesday. Typically, Tuesday sees the No. 7 vs. No. 8 in both conferences, but the 76ers are not able to host a game on Tuesday night due to a scheduling conflict with the NHL's Flyers.

The four first-round series set in stone right now are Timberwolves-Suns, Clippers-Mavericks, Bucks-Pacers and Cavaliers-Magic. The NBA unveiled the dates that those series will get started, but time and TV info for the first weekend of the playoffs has not yet been announced. 

Below is everything we know so far about the 2024 NBA playoff schedule.

All NBA playoff games airing on ABC, ESPN and NBA TV will be streaming on fubo (try for free).

Play-In Tournament schedule

(All times Eastern)

Tuesday, April 16 No. 7 Pelicans vs. No. 8 Lakers, 7:30 p.m., TNT No. 9 Kings vs. No. 10 Warriors, 10 p.m., TNT

Wednesday, April 17 No. 7 76ers vs. No. 8 Heat, 7 p.m., ESPN/ fubo No. 9 Bulls vs. No. 10 Hawks, 9:30 p.m., ESPN/ fubo

Friday, April 19 East No. 7/8 vs. East No. 9/10, Time TBD, ESPN/ fubo West No. 7/8 vs. West No. 9/10, Time TBD, TNT

2024 NBA playoffs schedule: First round

Saturday, April 20 Game 1: Knicks vs. East No. 7, Time/TV TBD Game 1: Cavaliers vs. Magic, Time/TV TBD Game 1: Nuggets vs. West No. 7, Time/TV TBD Game 1: Timberwolves vs. Suns, Time/TV TBD

Sunday, April 21 Game 1: Celtics vs. East No. 8, Time/TV TBD Game 1: Bucks vs. Pacers , Time/TV TBD Game 1: Thunder vs. West No. 8, Time/TV TBD Game 1: Clippers vs. Mavericks , Time/TV TBD

2024 NBA playoff dates

  • April 20-21 : Start of first round
  • May 4-7 : Start of second round
  • May 19-22 : Start of Conference Finals
  • June 6 : NBA Finals Game 1
  • June 23 : NBA Finals Game 7 (if necessary)

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, sat essay prompts: the complete list.

SAT Writing , SAT Essay

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On every SAT Essay, you'll have to read an argument meant to persuade a broad audience and discuss how well the author argues his or her point. The passage you'll have to read will change from test to test, but you'll always need to analyze the author's argument and write a coherent and organized essay explaining this analysis.

In this article, we've compiled a list of the 14 real SAT essay prompts that the College Board has released (either in The Official SAT Study Guide or separately online) for the new SAT. This is the most comprehensive set of new SAT essay prompts online today.

At the end of this article, we'll also guide you through how to get the most out of these prompts and link to our expert resources on acing the SAT essay. I'll discuss how the SAT essay prompts are valuable not just because they give you a chance to write a practice essay, but because of what they reveal about the essay task itself.

UPDATE: SAT Essay No Longer Offered

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In January 2021, the College Board announced that after June 2021, it would no longer offer the Essay portion of the SAT (except at schools who opt in during School Day Testing). It is now no longer possible to take the SAT Essay, unless your school is one of the small number who choose to offer it during SAT School Day Testing.

While most colleges had already made SAT Essay scores optional, this move by the College Board means no colleges now require the SAT Essay. It will also likely lead to additional college application changes such not looking at essay scores at all for the SAT or ACT, as well as potentially requiring additional writing samples for placement.

What does the end of the SAT Essay mean for your college applications? Check out our article on the College Board's SAT Essay decision for everything you need to know.

SAT essay prompts always keep to the same basic format. Not only is the prompt format consistent from test to test, but what you're actually asked to do (discuss how an author builds an argument) also remains the same across different test administrations.

The College Board's predictability with SAT essay helps students focus on preparing for the actual analytical task, rather than having to think up stuff on their feet. Every time, before the passage, you'll see the following:

  • evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.
  • reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.
  • stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.

And after the passage, you'll see this:

"Write an essay in which you explain how [the author] builds an argument to persuade [her/his] audience that [whatever the author is trying to argue for]. In your essay, analyze how [the author] uses one or more of the features listed in the box above (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of his argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage.

Your essay should not explain whether you agree with [the author]'s claims, but rather explain how [the author] builds an argument to persuade [her/his/their] audience."

Now that you know the format, let's look at the SAT essay prompts list.

14 Official SAT Essay Prompts

The College Board has released a limited number of prompts to help students prep for the essay. We've gathered them for you here, all in one place. We'll be sure to update this article as more prompts are released for practice and/or as more tests are released.

SPOILER ALERT : Since these are the only essay prompts that have been released so far, you may want to be cautious about spoiling them for yourself, particularly if you are planning on taking practice tests under real conditions . This is why I've organized the prompts by the 10 that are in the practice tests (so you can avoid them if need be), the ones that are available online as sample prompts, and the ones that are in the text of the Official SAT Study Guide (Redesigned SAT), all online for free.

Practice Test Prompts

These 10 prompts are taken from the practice tests that the College Board has released.

Practice Test 1 :

"Write an essay in which you explain how Jimmy Carter builds an argument to persuade his audience that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should not be developed for industry."

Practice Test 2 :

"Write an essay in which you explain how Martin Luther King Jr. builds an argument to persuade his audience that American involvement in the Vietnam War is unjust."

Practice Test 3 :

"Write an essay in which you explain how Eliana Dockterman builds an argument to persuade her audience that there are benefits to early exposure to technology."

Practice Test 4 :

"Write an essay in which you explain how Paul Bogard builds an argument to persuade his audience that natural darkness should be preserved."

Practice Test 5 :

"Write an essay in which you explain how Eric Klinenberg builds an argument to persuade his audience that Americans need to greatly reduce their reliance on air-conditioning."

Practice Test 6 :

"Write an essay in which you explain how Christopher Hitchens builds an argument to persuade his audience that the original Parthenon sculptures should be returned to Greece."

Practice Test 7 :

"Write an essay in which you explain how Zadie Smith builds an argument to persuade her audience that public libraries are important and should remain open"

Practice Test 8 :

"Write an essay in which you explain how Bobby Braun builds an argument to persuade his audience that the US government must continue to invest in NASA."

Practice Test 9 :

"Write an essay in which you explain how Todd Davidson builds an argument to persuade his audience that the US government must continue to fund national parks."

Practice Test 10 :

"Write an essay in which you explain how Richard Schiffman builds an argument to persuade his audience that Americans need to work fewer hours."

Special note: The prompt for Practice Test 4 also appears on the College Board's site with real sample essays written in response. If you've written a practice essay for practice test 4 and want to see what essays of different score levels look like for that particular prompt, you can go there and look at eight real student essays.

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Free Online Practice

This prompt comes from the College Board website .

"Write an essay in which you explain how Dana Gioia builds an argument to persuade his audience that the decline of reading in America will have a negative effect on society."

This prompt comes from Khan Academy , where it is listed as an alternate essay prompt to go along with Practice Test 2:

"Write an essay in which you explain how Leo W. Gerard builds an argument to persuade his audience that American colleges and universities should be affordable for all students."

The Official SAT Study Guide 2020

The Official SAT Study Guide (editions published in 2015 and later available online for free) contains all 10 of the previously mentioned practice tests at the end of the book. In the section about the new SAT essay , however, there are two additional sample essay prompts (accompanied by articles to analyze).

Sample Prompt 1:

"Write an essay in which you explain how Peter S. Goodman builds an argument to persuade his audience that news organizations should increase the amount of professional foreign news coverage provided to people in the United States."

Sample Prompt 2:

"Write an essay in which you explain how Adam B. Summers builds an argument to persuade his audience that plastic shopping bags should not be banned."

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How Do You Get the Most Out of These Prompts?

Now that you have all the prompts released by the College Board, it's important to know the best way to use them. Make sure you have a good balance between quality and quantity, and don't burn through all 14 of the real prompts in a row— take the time to learn from your experiences writing the practice essays.

Step By Step Guide on How to Practice Using the Article

#1: Understand how the SAT essay is graded .

#2: Follow along as we write a high-scoring SAT essay, step by step .

#3: Plan a set of features you'll look for in the SAT essay readings and practice writing about them fluidly. This doesn't just mean identifying a technique, like asking a rhetorical question, but explaining why it is persuasive and what effect it has on the reader in the context of a particular topic. We have more information on this step in our article about 6 SAT persuasive devices you can use .

#4: Choose a prompt at random from above, or choose a topic that you think is going to be hard for you to detach from (because you'll want to write about the topic, rather than the argument) set timer to 50 minutes and write the essay. No extra time allowed!

#5: Grade the essay, using the official essay rubric to give yourself a score out of 8 in the reading, analysis, and writing sections.

#6: Repeat steps 4 and 5. Choose the prompts you think will be the hardest for you so that you can so that you're prepared for the worst when the test day comes

#7: If you run out of official prompts to practice with, use the official prompts as models to find examples of other articles you could write about . Start by looking for op-ed articles in online news publications like The New York Times, The Atlantic, LA Times , and so on. For instance, the passage about the plastic bag ban in California (Official SAT Study Guide sample essay prompt 2, above) has a counterpoint here —you could try analyzing and writing about that article as well.

Any additional articles you use for practice on the SAT essay must match the following criteria:

  • ideally 650-750 words , although it'll be difficult to find an op-ed piece that's naturally that short. Try to aim for nothing longer than 2000 words, though, or the scope of the article is likely to be wider than anything you'll encounter on the SAT.
  • always argumentative/persuasive . The author (or authors) is trying to get readers to agree with a claim or idea being put forward.
  • always intended for a wide audience . All the information you need to deconstruct the persuasiveness of the argument is in the passage. This means that articles with a lot of technical jargon that's not explained in the article are not realistic passage to practice with.

What's Next?

We've written a ton of helpful resources on the SAT essay. I f you're just getting started, we recommend beginning with our top SAT essay tips for a quick overview of the essay task and what you need to know.

A little more familiar with the SAT essay but still not quite sure how to write one? Follow along with our step-by-step guide to writing the SAT essay .

Looking to earn a high score? Learn what it takes to get the highest score possible on the SAT essay here .

Plus, if you want a reference linking you to all of our great articles on the SAT essay, be sure to check out our ultimate SAT essay guide .

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Check out our best-in-class online SAT prep program. We guarantee your money back if you don't improve your SAT score by 160 points or more.

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Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.

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  1. SAT Essay Scoring

    You'll receive three scores for the SAT Essay—one for each dimension—ranging from 2-8 points. There is no composite SAT Essay score (the three scores are not added together) and there are no percentiles. We train every scorer to hold every student to the same standards, the ones shown on this page. Reading Scoring Guide

  2. How to Get a Perfect 8|8|8 SAT Essay Score

    (SAT essays are scored by two graders who each rate your essay on a scale of 1-4 in Reading, Analysis, and Writing; the two graders' scores are added together to get scores out of 8 for each domain.) Below, we've excerpted the criteria for a 3 and a 4 in all three domains and described the differences between the 3 and 4 score levels for ...

  3. What Is the SAT Essay?

    For instance, you can't choose to send Math scores but not SAT Essay scores. Until 2021, the SAT Essay was also an optional section when taking the SAT on a weekend. That section was discontinued in 2021. If you don't have the opportunity to take the SAT Essay section as part of the SAT, don't worry. There are other ways to show your ...

  4. The Ultimate SAT Essay Study Guide: Tips and Review

    In this article, you'll find all the free and publicly released official SAT prompts currently available, along with instructions on the best ways to use the prompts in your studying. How to Get a Perfect 8|8|8 SAT Essay Score. Excelling on the SAT essay requires understanding the difference between an almost-perfect and a perfect-scoring essay.

  5. What is a Good SAT Essay Score?

    In 2019, the mean score on the Reading and Writing for the SAT Essay was a 5. For the Analysis section, the mean score was a little lower at 3, simply because Analysis is a skill that high school students spend less time honing than Reading or Writing. For a detailed breakdown of how 2019's test takers performed, here are a few score ...

  6. What Is A Good SAT Essay Score?

    Currently, the SAT essay is scored on a scale of 1 to 6 by two graders, for a total essay score out of 12. Your essay is scored holistically, which means you don't get bumped down to a certain essay grade if you make, for instance, a certain number of comma errors. Instead, SAT essay scorers use the SAT essay rubric to grade your essay as a ...

  7. SAT Essay Scores Explained

    The essay score is not a part of the 400-1600 score. Instead, a student opting to take the SAT Essay receives 2-8 scores in three dimensions: reading, analysis, and writing. No equating or fancy lookup table is involved. The scores are simply the sum of two readers' 1-4 ratings in each dimension. There is no official totaling or ...

  8. SAT Essay Scoring: What You Need to Know from AP Guru

    The SAT Essay is scored separately from the rest of the SAT, with scores ranging from 2 to 8 in three categories: Reading, Analysis, and Writing. These three scores are then added together to produce a total score between 6 and 24.

  9. SAT Essay Scores: How To Get A Perfect Score

    What Is A Perfect SAT Essay Score. Based on the criteria from above, a perfect score on the SAT essay would be three scores of 8. In other words, you will need to score a 4 from each scorer in each dimension. Here's what a perfect score on the SAT essay will look like: Reading Score. Analysis Score.

  10. The CollegeVine Guide to SAT Scores: All Your Questions Answered

    SAT Essay Scores. The SAT Essay scores will include three scored dimensions. The dimensions scored are Reading, Analysis, and Writing. Each dimension is scored on a scale from two to eight points. The score report will show the prompt you responded to, your essay itself, and a link to the Essay Scoring Guide.

  11. SAT Essay Tips: 15 Ways to Improve Your Score

    A less effective essay might also try to discuss cheekbones, eyebrows, eyelashes, skin pores, chin clefts, and dimples as well. While all of these things are part of the face, it would be hard to get into detail about each of the parts in just 50 minutes. " The New Dance Craze ." ©2015-2016 by Samantha Lindsay.

  12. SAT Essay Scoring Demystified: What You Need to Know

    - Each of the three criteria is scored on a scale of 1 to 4 by two different graders, for a total score of 2 to 8 for each criterion. The two scores for each criterion are then added together to give you a final score for that criterion. The final SAT Essay score is the sum of the scores for each of the three criteria, ranging from 6 to 24. 5.

  13. SAT Scores

    K-12 Educators: SAT Scores. Learn how to access educator score reports, review the score release schedule, help your students interpret their scores, and more. Access your SAT scores, view detailed score reports, find score release dates, and learn what your scores mean.

  14. SAT Essay Scores: All about SAT Essay Score Range

    The 3 separate scores out of 8 points mean that the highest possible SAT essay full score is 8-8-8, or 24 total points. · Good SAT Essay Score. Any SAT score above the 50th SAT essay score percentiles, or median, is measured as a good result since it designates that you have done good out of the majority of students.

  15. SAT Essay Rubric: Full Analysis and Writing Strategies

    The SAT essay rubric says that the best (that is, 4-scoring) essay uses " relevant, sufficient, and strategically chosen support for claim (s) or point (s) made. " This means you can't just stick to abstract reasoning like this: The author uses analogies to hammer home his point that hot dogs are not sandwiches.

  16. SAT Essay Scores- Score Range, Score Calculation, Colleges, and Samples

    The SAT essay score is measured on a scale of 2 to 8. The SAT essay score is measured on 3 criteria - reading, analysis, and writing with each section marked on 1 - 8. There are certain universities that consider the SAT Essay score vital for assessment despite it being optional. Therefore, a focus should be placed on the proper preparation of the essays for SAT and candidates should also be ...

  17. Digital SAT® Score Calculator

    To figure out your SAT® superscore, you'll need to first compile all of the test days you took the DSAT®. Next, look for your highest scores for SAT® Reading and SAT® Math. So for example, if you earn a 700 on one SAT® Math test, and a 750 on another, you'd choose the 750. Finally, total your highest scores — this is your DSAT ...

  18. What's the Average SAT Essay Score?

    The average SAT essay score for students graduating high school in 2020 was 5 out of 8 for Reading, 3 out of 8 for Analysis, and 5 out of 8 for Writing (source: CollegeBoard 2020 Total Group Report). To get a better idea of how frequently different essay scores were assigned, I created several different SAT essay score distribution charts that ...

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    Adapted from Paul Bogard, "Let There Be Dark." ©2012 by Paul Bogard. Originally published in Los Angeles Times, December 21, 2012. At my family's cabin on a Minnesota lake, I knew woods so dark that my hands disappeared before my eyes. I knew night skies in which meteors left smoky trails across sugary spreads of stars.

  21. SAT Essay Prompts: The Complete List

    No extra time allowed! #5: Grade the essay, using the official essay rubric to give yourself a score out of 8 in the reading, analysis, and writing sections. #6: Repeat steps 4 and 5. Choose the prompts you think will be the hardest for you so that you can so that you're prepared for the worst when the test day comes.