The SAT score report provides detailed information to help you better understand your strengths and weaknesses in terms of SAT content. It’s worth taking the time to really review your score report to help you decide if you should re-take the SAT and, if so, to guide your practice for the next SAT. Below is the information found in the report and how you should use it:

Total Score

This is the sum of your reading and writing and math scores. The scaled score can range from 400-1600, with a perfect score of 1600. This is what most students are concerned about. You should see how your score stacks up to the average accepted scores at your top choice colleges. If you are not at least in the average range for the colleges to which you plan to apply, you should retake the SAT and/or try the ACT.

Section Scores

These scores separate your total score into two scores, one for the reading and writing section and another for the math section. The scaled score for both sections can range from 200-800. This helps you determine your overall strengths and weaknesses. It helps you decide where to focus more of your prep in a general sense.


For both total score and section scores, you’ll see your percentile. Percentiles compare your scores to the scores of high school students nationwide. This means that, if you are in the 52nd percentile, you scored as well or better than 52 of every 100 students. There are two percentiles given: Nationally Representative Sample and SAT User Percentile. You will notice that SAT User Percentile will be lower than Nationally Representative Sample. This is because the SAT User Percentile represents college bound high school students who would take the SAT and not all high school students.

Test Scores

These three scores represent how well you did on each individual section, including reading, writing, and math. This allows you to compare scores for all three sections. Scaled scores for each section range from 10-40. To see how these scores fit with your section scores, put a 0 on the end and add the Reading and Writing scores. This will total the section score. For example, a student with a reading test score of 25 and a writing test score of 30 would have a section score of 550 (250+300). This helps you see, within the reading and writing score, which section you need to review more.

Cross Test Scores

These scores indicate how well you answered concept questions in History/Social Studies versus Science. The scores are based on 35 questions per content area across all sections of the test. Scores are scaled from 10-40. In general, students usually tend to be fairly balanced on these scores. If you have significantly lower scores in one area, that would be an indication that you should work on familiarizing yourself with more science or history content.


These scores show how successful you were based on the question content type in each section, such as command of evidence, words in context, etc. Scores range from 1-15. This provides the most helpful information for studying before your next test retake.

• Words in Context: These questions can be found on both the reading and writing sections. It focuses on choosing the best word to convey meaning. If this score is lower, you should focus on improving your vocabulary.

Command of Evidence: These questions can be found on both the reading and writing section and are most often the most challenging questions for students. They ask students to defend how they got the answer to a prior question, determine if information should be added or deleted to support an
argument, etc.

• Standard English Conventions: These questions are found on the writing section and focus on grammar, usage, and punctuation. If this score is lower, you should review your grammar skills. One study guide that we really like for reviewing grammar rules is The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar by Erica Meltzer.

• Expression of Ideas: These questions are found on the writing section and focus on effective organization and development of writing. They may include questions that ask the best placement for a sentence within a paragraph, best transition word, or which phrase should be used to best set up the information in the second half of a paragraph.

• Heart of Algebra: These questions focus on topics found in Algebra I, such as linear equations, word problems, and systems of equations. This area is often a weakness for students since many students have forgotten some of the basics by the time they take the SAT. If this score is lower, you should review the basics of algebra. Khan Academy is a great place to start.

• Passport to Advanced Math: These questions focus on topics found in Algebra II such as quadratic equations, exponential equations, and appreciation/depreciation. If this score is lower, one of our favorite math review guides is The College Panda ’s SAT Math: Advanced Guide and Workbook for the New SAT. 

• Problem Solving and Data Analysis: These questions are found only on the calculator math section (section 4) and focus on interpreting data, statistical analyses, probability, variation, etc.

Watch our video for step-by-step instructions on how to understand your SAT score report.