SAT Suite

Why Is My SAT Score Lower Than I Expected?

Let’s say you tookfull-length digital SAT practice test in BluebookTM and got 32 out of 44 questions right on the Math section for a score of 530.

You wanted a higher score, so you took another practice test. This time, you got 30 out of 44 math questions right, but your score was 590. You may have answered fewer math questions correctly, but your score was higher.

So what happened?


A Difference in Difficulty

College Board works hard to develop tests with the same level of difficulty, so scores are standardized and fair. Every year, millions of students in the U.S. and around the world take the SAT. Now that the SAT is digital every student gets their own unique test form, each with a mix of easy, medium, and hard questions across a range of domains.

The digital SAT is multistage adaptive. Everyone will get questions with the same mix of difficulty in the first module of the Reading and Writing and Math sections. Depending on how you answer those questions, your second module will have a different mix of difficulty levels. The mix of questions in the second module is, on average, either of higher difficulty or lower difficulty than the first module.

The scoring takes into account the difficulty level of the questions. If you get more “easy” questions wrong, you may get a lower score than if you only got “hard” questions wrong.


The Scoring Process

All test questions are first scored as correct or incorrect. The difficulty level and other qualities of each question (such as how well it differentiates skill level or how easy it is to guess on a question), are also taken into account when calculating your score.


Taking the SAT Again?

If you’d like to improve your score by taking the SAT again, start by taking a full-length practice test and review your results. Then you can study the areas that you want to improve with free Official Digital SAT Prep on Khan Academy®.


Learn more about how we score the SAT.