Is the SAT Curve Real?

The SAT is one of the most important tests high schoolers will take in preparation for college. Your SAT scores can impact you in many ways, including by influencing your ability to secure scholarships or gain admission to your dream schools, depending on your chosen major. 

This makes the SAT an extremely important piece of a high schooler’s academic experience. As a result, many students are interested in learning how their SAT will be graded. 

For example, it’s a commonly held belief that the SAT is graded on a curve based on the overall results of everyone who takes it during a certain period, much like many tests in high school classes are graded.

SAT Grading: How Does It Work?

Let’s set the record straight: there is no curve to SAT grading. However, factors beyond the number of questions you answer correctly can influence your score. So let’s look closer at how the SAT is graded and what you can expect from your score sheet. 

Raw Scores vs. Scaled Scores

When you take the SAT, each question you answer correctly counts as one point on your total score. Incorrect or blank answers don’t result in any points, but they also don’t take away any points you earned from your correct answers. The objective number of questions you answer correctly in a given section is what’s known as your raw score.

When you receive your SAT results back, the final score will reflect not your raw scores but your scaled scores for each section. Scaled scores are found when raw scores are measured against the varying difficulties of different SAT exams. 

Since there are many versions of the SAT, some will be slightly more difficult than others. Scaled scores help account for these slight variations in difficulty to give students a score that accurately represents the difficulty of their specific SAT. 

Equating vs. Grading on a Curve: How Are They Different?

The SAT board uses a process called equating to turn raw scores into scaled ones. You may wonder: how is equating any different than grading on a curve? The answer to this question lies in the reasoning for the score adjustments.

When tests are graded on a curve, final scores are adjusted relative to how well the majority answered the questions and displayed an understanding of the material. When SAT scores are equated, the adjustment comes from the content of the tests themselves, not from the results of various students. 

This means that your score will never be affected by the results of other students. Instead, it is impacted by the relative difficulty of your SAT test to other SAT tests given in the same period.

Prepare for the SAT Today

When it comes to preparing for the SAT, the best plan of action is to not worry so much about the grading structure and instead focus on what you can control: your preparation. Ensure your best score by enrolling in high-quality SAT prep today with Jantzi by booking now.