Why Is My SAT Score Lower Than I Expected?
Let’s say you took the SAT in June and got 50 out of 58 questions right on the Math section for a score of 550.
You wanted a higher score, so you took the SAT again in October. You got 51 out of 58 math questions right for a score of 530. The number of questions you answered correctly went up, but your score went down.
Is this a mistake? Should you get your test rescored? Probably not. Unless it turns out you answered more questions correctly, your score is accurate.
So what happened?
A Difference in Difficulty
Although the College Board works hard to develop tests with the same level of difficulty, some versions of the SAT are a little harder than others.
In the example above, the Math section of the first SAT was a bit more difficult than the Math section of the second test, so the questions on the first were worth a bit more. This is how we make sure scores are fair to all students, regardless of which SAT they took.
And it’s why you earned a 550 for 50 correct answers on the harder version, and a 530 for 51 correct answers on the easier version.
The Scoring Process
To make sure a section score from any SAT is equivalent to that same section score from any other SAT, regardless of its level of difficulty, we use a method called “equating.” Equating is a universally accepted statistical process used for all standardized tests. It ensures that scores are fair and valid for all test takers.
Some people confuse “equating” with “grading on a curve,” but it’s not the same thing. When a test is scored on a curve, your score may change depending on how everyone else performed on the test. Your SAT score is based only on how you perform. It’s never affected by other students’ performance.