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Highest Grade On Sat Essay Questions

Wait, wait – not so fast! Let&#;s break this down a little. After all, understanding how a test is scored is absolutely vital to, well, getting the highest SAT score possible on it.

Furthermore, some of you may still be thinking: &#;Uh…isn&#;t it ?&#;
 

The Quick Answer

It used to be. Up until January , the highest possible score on the SAT was As of March , however, the highest possible score is now , as it was for most of the twentieth century. So what gives? Were parents just protesting that they wanted to know how well they&#;d done in comparison to their kids?

Not exactly.  Here&#;s what happened:
 

The Long Answer

On the &#;old&#; (pre-March ) SAT, there were three sections: reading, writing, and math. Each section had a possible score of between and , for a total composite (overall) score of between and However, that writing section presented a problem. A significant amount of the score was made up of the grade students received on an essay. Anecdotal evidences indicates that many colleges reasoned that because the essay grading was subjective, the writing score was not so useful for admissions—and so they&#;d ignore it, making the actual score they were looking at between and

The College Board, the company that makes the SAT, caught on to this (they&#;re pretty bright over there). They began a redesign of the test that not only made the essay a score separate from the composite score, but also reworked the test in other areas to make it more relevant to what students were learning in school and to what they&#;d be learning in college.
 

Highest SAT Score: Section Scores

So! Now, the multiple-choice section of the test is broken down into two categories: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (which includes both reading passages and English grammar and usage questions), and Math. Within each of these sections, you can score between and (&#;section scores&#;), for a total score of to (&#;total score&#;).
 

SAT Subscores and Cross-Test Scores

However, you&#;ll also receive subscores in the Reading/Writing section: in two separate categories (Reading/Writing & Language), you&#;ll receive a subscore out of a possible 40 points. This also holds true for Math, though that section doesn&#;t have subscores.

But wait, there&#;s more! Now, there&#;ll also be &#;cross-test&#; scores, also out of 40 points. These subscores, as their name implies, cross the tests and apply to Reading, Writing, and Math—basically, any question that has a Science, History, or Social Studies context.
 

New SAT Essay Score

Whew! After all that, the new essay scoring is pretty simple: three scores between in the categories of Reading, Analysis, and Writing. The good news, though? It&#;s now optional, as it is on the ACT. Heads up, though: some colleges may continue to require it.

Head spinning? We don&#;t blame you! Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and remember this:
The highest SAT score on the new test is End of story.
 

P.S&#;Go here for updated information on SAT Score Ranges for the Top Colleges and Universities!

About Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Rachel is a TOEFL and SAT/ACT blogger at Magoosh. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University, an MA from the Université de Paris VII, and is currently a doctoral candidate at University College London. She has taught the TOEFL for six years, and worked with nearly 1, students in that time. Currently, Rachel divides her time between the US and London. When she’s not teaching or studying, she’s either riding (horses), or writing (fiction), a pair of activities that sound so similar that it confuses even native English speakers. Follow Rachel on Twitter, or learn more about her writing here!


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I don’t know what the average is, but I do know what the secret is to writing the essay.

Instead of aiming to write sophisticated words and a concise essay, write, write, write. Start with a three sentence beginning that includes you main point. Then add three longer paragraphs that connect to this idea. Write A LOT! Include details, every little one, quotations, tell a little story to support the idea, and then end with two sentences that add a twist to your initial idea.

When grading these essays, the judges look for quantity and substance over quality, truly. Of course, give yourself two minutes to go back and double-check the grammar. If a word doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t spelled right. More importantly, make sure each sentence is a sentence. Watch for commas instead of periods. Stop complete sentences. It’s all right to have short sentences along with longer ones. Style is only one part of the assessment, a small one at that.

I gave these “tricks” to my daughter, and she scored a , perfect score, on the essay part.

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