Now that scores are out for the new SAT, we can answer many lingering questions. First off, how does a specific score on the new test correspond to the old test? Secondly, how do the two tests stack up against each other—is one more difficult than the other? And finally, just how many questions can you miss on the new test and receive a perfect score?
I’ll answer all these throughout the post. I’ll also give you a sense of what a good SAT score is. (spoiler alert: you’ll have to do better point wise on the new exam).
Adjusting for different point scales
As soon as you get your new SAT don’t think you’ve bombed it (ah, I only get a 1200!) The new test, you see, is out of 1600, not 2400. Therefore, if you haven’t taken the new test yet but are wondering where your score roughly lies on the old test, you can multiply your old SAT score by 2/3.
The good news is that with the concordance tables you can get an exact score that your old SAT score corresponds to. For example, if you scored 1800 on the old exam that would work out to roughly 1800 x 2/3 = 1200 on the new exam. What do the concordance tables say? An 1800 (old test) equals a 1290.
That’s nearly 100 points off of what we expected. What does that mean? Well, you have to do a little bit better on the new test to equal your performance on the old test. And if you did well on the old, then you have your work cut out for you. But that’s just one score along the range. What about the other scores?
How do the two tests compare?
Saying which test is more difficult is impossible, since the two tests are so different. What might be difficult for one person might not be so difficult for another, and vice versa. But in absolute terms, or at least as far as the data goes, the old SAT was slightly more difficult than the new SAT. For instance, a 2390 corresponds to a perfect score of 1600 on the new SAT.
The average score on the last exam was 1500, which on this exam corresponds to a 1090/1100 on the new test. We would expect that to be 1000 based on our 2/3 rule. So again, you can see that you’ll have to do better on the new test to get the same score on the old test. That is, you can’t expect to get a 1000 on the new exam if you are looking to get a score that is equivalent to a 1500 on the old exam.
What about the essay?
As far as the essay is concerned any score correspondence is completely thrown out the window. The new essay will be based on three separate scores, one for reading, one for analysis, and one for writing, each ranging from 1-4. There will be two essay graders and their scores for each of the three sections will be added up. So essentially, your scores will look something like this 6/7/5. (To see how the essays are graded and what exactly these essay scores consist of, check out the SAT essay prompts on the College Board page).
What does this all mean?
Well, if you scored competitively on the old exam, you might want to rethink taking the new SAT, especially if you do not feel comfortable with the format. Again, the reason I say this is that you’ll have to score higher on the new test compared to the old test.
Of course, if you haven’t taken the SAT at all then the point is moot. But don’t despair thinking that you should have taken the old SAT. After all, it was harder for a reason.
For the last ten years, Chris has been helping students excel on the SAT and the GRE. In this time, he’s coached 5 students to a perfect SAT score. Some of his GRE students have raised their scores by nearly 400 points. He has taken many GMAT students from the doldrums of the 600s to the coveted land of the 700+. Rumor has it he does a secret happy dance when his students get a perfect score. You can read Chris’s awesome blog posts on the Magoosh High School Blog, and study with his lessons using Magoosh SAT Prep.
• The SAT Essay: A Breakdown
• ACT vs SAT: Pros And Cons
• Interpreting Your SAT Scores [Infographic]