Scoring Changes on the New SAT

Instructor: Nicky Davis
Wondering how scores might change with the structure of the new SAT? Keep reading to find comparisons between current SAT scoring and the new test, explanations of new sub-scores and cross-test scores, and resources to help you prepare for the test.

Old vs. New SAT Scoring

With all the modifications being made to the structure of the SAT, it's important to keep up with how these changes will affect your score. In the table below, find the key differences in scoring between the current and the new SAT, being introduced in March of 2016.

CategoryOld SAT ScoringNew SAT Scoring
Guessing Penalized -¼ pt. for wrong answers Scored only on correct answers
Sub-scores No sub-scores given Sub-scores given for all sections to convey test-takers strengths and preparedness
Reading, Writing and Math Tests Three test sections, each scored on scale of 200-800 Two test sections, each scored on a scale of 200-800
Essay Scored on a scale of 1-6 by two independent readers, total possible score of 12 Scored on a scale of 1-4 by two independent readers, total possible score of 8
Cross-Test Scoring No cross-test scoring Cross-test scores reported to show how skills carry over between subjects
Overall Score Scored on a scale of 600-2400, including essay score Scored on a scale of 400-1600, not including sub-scores and cross-test scores; essay scores reported separately

Cross-Test Scores & Sub-Scores

While it may seem contradictory, the new SAT gives more scores to help you succeed. Both sub-scores and cross-test scores are designed to provide colleges with a more complete picture of the student's abilities.


There are seven sub-scores in the new SAT, each one ranging from 1-15.

  • Reading and Writing and Language
    • Command of Evidence: Measures how well you can draw on the text as reference
    • Words in Context: Measures how well you determine the meaning/function of a word based on the surrounding material
  • Writing and Language
    • Expression of Ideas: Measures how clearly you convey your own thoughts and opinions
    • Standard English Conventions: Measures your understanding of fundamental grammar
  • Mathematics
    • Heart of Algebra: Measures your command of basic and foundational algebraic principles
    • Problem Solving and Data Analysis: Measures your ability to read and analyze data and apply it to complex and multi-step problems
    • Passport to Advanced Math: Measures your fluency and ability in more complex mathematical concepts

Cross-Test Scores

There are two cross-test scores delivered and they are each scaled from 10-40. These scores are designed to show how your skills of analysis carry between subjects, and are compiled based on your performance on selected questions throughout the exam.

  • Analysis in History/Social Studies
  • Analysis in Science

Preparing for the New SAT

Once you're caught up on the scoring system of the new SAT, make sure you're ready to get your best possible score! Study.com has you covered, with comprehensive SAT test prep courses complete with quizzes and review materials for every section of the exam. Just remember that the 'about' sections of these review courses are written for the current SAT, not the new SAT.

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