Over the years, the SAT has changed both significantly and repeatedly. The CollegeBoard, who oversees the test, has continually updated it in an effort to reflect changing educational standards. The one constant since its inception is its intent—to assess the career and college-readiness of high school students.
In March of 2016, a new iteration of the test was introduced, signaling a significant change in its scoring formula. This change is important to note because a score that would have been considered below average on the previous scale may now qualify as highly impressive. Without an in-depth understanding of the changes, some students may be confused. It’s no wonder that we often hear the question, “What is the highest SAT score I can get?”
To learn more about the highest SAT score possible and how to maximize your chances of earning one, don’t miss this important post.
What Is the Scoring Scale for the SAT?
As of 2016, the SAT consists of two required sections and one optional section. The required sections are Writing and Language, and Math. The optional section is the Essay.
The required sections are divided into two overall section scores. Students receive a section score in Writing and Language ranging from 200-800, and students receive another section score in Math ranging from 200-800. These two scores are added together to create a student’s composite score. This means that for the required sections of the SAT, the maximum score you can receive is a 1600, which would indicate perfect scores of 800 on each of the required sections.
The optional Essay section is scored separately. For students who choose to take this part of the test, another score will be provided ranging from 6-24. Each essay is scored by two scorers on three dimensions. Each scorer grades the essay on a scale of 1-4 in each dimension, meaning that each scorer can award up to 12 points total. For a student who receives the top score of 4 on each dimension from both scorers, the perfect score of 24 can be achieved
Do I Have to Get Every Question Right to Get the Highest SAT Score Possible?
Many students assume that they need to get every single question on the SAT correct if they want to receive a perfect score, but the reality is a little different. In fact, a raw score, meaning the number of questions answered correctly, is something a little different from the final converted score.
Raw scores are converted onto a scale from 400-1600 during a process called equating. Equating takes into account the specific difficulty of each version of the test. Because several different test forms are given at each test administration, the specific equating process for your test will depend on the specific version of the test that you took, and it may be different than the equating process applied to the tests of people sitting next to you.
While some SAT tests are definitely more difficult than others, in general the variation is fairly small and the equating process does not differ hugely from one test to another. You can get a better idea of the exact process by reviewing the scoring procedure for official SAT practice tests prepared by the College Board.
How Can I Maximize My SAT Score?
Most students want to receive the highest SAT score that they’re capable of achieving. This means that if you’re like most students, you’ll need to put some work into planning an SAT study schedule and sourcing study materials that are both challenging and useful.
While some students might believe that they don’t need to start studying until a few months before the test, we recommend that you lay the foundation for SAT success much earlier. Though many students who start later ultimately perform well, there is no harm in getting a head start.
We recommend building general SAT-relevant skills like writing, vocabulary, and basic algebra beginning during your freshman or sophomore year of high school. Then, when you reach junior year, you can focus more earnestly on SAT-specific content and strategies.
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