Understanding Your Scores
Your SAT Subject Test score report provides a lot of feedback, and it might be hard to know where to start. But once you understand score ranges, percentiles, and average scores, you’ll be able to put your scores in perspective.
If you took a Language with Listening test, your score report will also include subscores.
How to Use Your Score Report
Your score report can help you:
- See how well you’ve mastered the subject compared to other test-takers. This can be especially useful for home-schooled students or students outside the United States.
- Decide what high school courses to take, what college majors to explore, and what colleges and programs to apply to.
Subject Test scores are reported on a scale of 200 to 800. Language Tests with Listening include subscores, on a scale of 20 to 80.
Language Test Subscores
All Language Tests with Listening include subscores for reading and listening. A usage subscore is also provided for the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Language with Listening tests.
Subscores are used to compute the total score, but their individual contributions differ between the different tests.
- For the French, German, and Spanish with Listening tests, the reading subscore counts twice as much as the listening subscore.
- For the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean tests, subscores are weighted equally.
Interpreting Your Score
Tests can’t measure exactly what you know, and many factors can affect your score. After all, no two days are the same, and if you were to take the test three times in a week or once a week for a month, your scores would vary.
That’s why it’s helpful to think of each score as a range that extends from a few points below to a few points above the score earned. Score ranges show how much your score might change with repeated testing, assuming that your skill level remains the same.
Usually, your scores fall in a range of roughly 30 – 40 points above or below your true ability. Colleges know this, and they receive the score ranges along with your scores to consider that single snapshot in context.
Because score ranges are the best representation of your abilities, we say that there must be a difference of at least 60 points between your score and another student’s score to be able to say that one of you performed better than the other.
Percentile ranks compare your scores to those of other students who took the test. Say, for example, your Biology Test score is 500. If the percentile rank for 500 is 47, then this means you did better than 47 percent of all students who took this test.
Because different groups of students take different Subject Tests, you can’t compare a Biology Test percentile with a Literature Test percentile, for example.
Average (or mean) scores are based upon the most recent scores of all students of a particular graduating class.
Subject test scores and native speakers: An important thing to remember about Language Test scores is that the scores of native speakers of that language are grouped together with the rest. This may make the average score higher than you might expect if it just included the scores of nonnative speakers. We do have data tables available that exclude the scores of native speakers.