11 Sat Essay

How the SAT Essay Is Scored

Responses to the optional SAT Essay are scored using a carefully designed process.

  • Two different people will read and score your essay.
  • Each scorer awards 1–4 points for each dimension: reading, analysis, and writing.
  • The two scores for each dimension are added.
  • You’ll receive three scores for the SAT Essay—one for each dimension—ranging from 2–8 points.
  • There is no composite SAT Essay score (the three scores are not added together) and there are no percentiles.

We train every scorer to hold every student to the same standards, the ones shown on this page.

Quick Links

Reading Scoring Guide

Analysis Scoring Guide

Writing Scoring Guide

Score of 4

  • Demonstrates thorough comprehension of the source text.
  • Shows an understanding of the text’s central idea(s) and of most important details and how they interrelate, demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of the text.
  • Is free of errors of fact or interpretation with regard to the text.
  • Makes skillful use of textual evidence (quotations, paraphrases, or both), demonstrating a complete understanding of the source text.

Score of 3

  • Demonstrates effective comprehension of the source text.
  • Shows an understanding of the text’s central idea(s) and important details.
  • Is free of substantive errors of fact and interpretation with regard to the text.
  • Makes appropriate use of textual evidence (quotations, paraphrases, or both), demonstrating an understanding of the source text.

Score of 2

  • Demonstrates some comprehension of the source text.
  • Shows an understanding of the text’s central idea(s) but not of important details.
  • May contain errors of fact and/or interpretation with regard to the text.
  • Makes limited and/or haphazard use of textual evidence (quotations, paraphrases, or both), demonstrating some understanding of the source text.

Score of 1

  • Demonstrates little or no comprehension of the source text.
  • Fails to show an understanding of the text’s central idea(s), and may include only details without reference to central idea(s).
  • May contain numerous errors of fact and/or interpretation with regard to the text.
  • Makes little or no use of textual evidence (quotations, paraphrases, or both), demonstrating little or no understanding of the source text.

Score of 4

  • Offers an insightful analysis of the source text and demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of the analytical task.
  • Offers a thorough, well-considered evaluation of the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive elements, and/or feature(s) of the student’s own choosing.
  • Contains relevant, sufficient, and strategically chosen support for claim(s) or point(s) made.
  • Focuses consistently on those features of the text that are most relevant to addressing the task.

Score of 3

  • Offers an effective analysis of the source text and demonstrates an understanding of the analytical task.
  • Competently evaluates the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive elements, and/or feature(s) of the student’s own choosing.
  • Contains relevant and sufficient support for claim(s) or point(s) made.
  • Focuses primarily on those features of the text that are most relevant to addressing the task.

Score of 2

  • Offers limited analysis of the source text and demonstrates only partial understanding of the analytical task.
  • Identifies and attempts to describe the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive elements, and/or feature(s) of the student’s own choosing, but merely asserts rather than explains their importance, or one or more aspects of the response’s analysis are unwarranted based on the text.
  • Contains little or no support for claim(s) or point(s) made.
  • May lack a clear focus on those features of the text that are most relevant to addressing the task.

Score of 1

  • Offers little or no analysis or ineffective analysis of the source text and demonstrates little or no understanding of the analytic task.
  • Identifies without explanation some aspects of the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive elements, and/or feature(s) of the student’s choosing.
  • Or numerous aspects of the response’s analysis are unwarranted based on the text.
  • Contains little or no support for claim(s) or point(s) made, or support is largely irrelevant.
  • May not focus on features of the text that are relevant to addressing the task.
  • Or the response offers no discernible analysis (e.g., is largely or exclusively summary).

Score of 4

  • Is cohesive and demonstrates a highly effective use and command of language.
  • Includes a precise central claim.
  • Includes a skillful introduction and conclusion. The response demonstrates a deliberate and highly effective progression of ideas both within paragraphs and throughout the essay.
  • Has a wide variety in sentence structures. The response demonstrates a consistent use of precise word choice. The response maintains a formal style and objective tone.
  • Shows a strong command of the conventions of standard written English and is free or virtually free of errors.

Score of 3

  • Is mostly cohesive and demonstrates effective use and control of language.
  • Includes a central claim or implicit controlling idea.
  • Includes an effective introduction and conclusion. The response demonstrates a clear progression of ideas both within paragraphs and throughout the essay.
  • Has variety in sentence structures. The response demonstrates some precise word choice. The response maintains a formal style and objective tone.
  • Shows a good control of the conventions of standard written English and is free of significant errors that detract from the quality of writing.

Score of 2

  • Demonstrates little or no cohesion and limited skill in the use and control of language.
  • May lack a clear central claim or controlling idea or may deviate from the claim or idea over the course of the response.
  • May include an ineffective introduction and/or conclusion. The response may demonstrate some progression of ideas within paragraphs but not throughout the response.
  • Has limited variety in sentence structures; sentence structures may be repetitive.
  • Demonstrates general or vague word choice; word choice may be repetitive. The response may deviate noticeably from a formal style and objective tone.
  • Shows a limited control of the conventions of standard written English and contains errors that detract from the quality of writing and may impede understanding.

Score of 1

  • Demonstrates little or no cohesion and inadequate skill in the use and control of language.
  • May lack a clear central claim or controlling idea.
  • Lacks a recognizable introduction and conclusion. The response does not have a discernible progression of ideas.
  • Lacks variety in sentence structures; sentence structures may be repetitive. The response demonstrates general and vague word choice; word choice may be poor or inaccurate. The response may lack a formal style and objective tone.
  • Shows a weak control of the conventions of standard written English and may contain numerous errors that undermine the quality of writing.

If you registered for the SAT online or you registered by mail and set up a College Board account, you’ll get an email telling you how to sign into your online score report when scores are ready.

Sign in to view scores.

When to Expect Scores

New Score Release Policies

We’re making changes to help you get scores and send them to colleges faster than before. Here’s what you need to know about scores from the 2017-18 weekend administrations:

  • October, November, December, March, and May scores from the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math sections will be released about two weeks after test day. You’ll receive an email when those multiple-choice scores are ready. We’ll send your scores to colleges within 10 days after they’re available to you.
  • If you take the SAT with Essay, you’ll get your SAT Essay scores about five days after receiving your multiple-choice scores. We’ll send score reports to colleges once all your scores are ready.
  • If you request a paper score report, we’ll send it once all your scores are ready (including your SAT Essay scores if you take the essay).
  • August and June scores may take longer—up to six weeks for all scores.

Paper Score Reports

Students who register online and wish to receive a paper score report by mail in addition to the online score report must request it when they register.

Students who register by mail and who don't have active College Board online accounts will receive paper score reports. They can also get their SAT scores by calling customer service, but there’s an additional fee.

Scores by Phone

You can get SAT scores by phone starting on the day they’re released, but there’s an extra fee.

Who Else Sees Your Scores

If you chose score recipients before scores were released, those colleges and scholarship programs will get your score report shortly after you do. Your high school, district, and state will be able to see your scores online too.

Learn how to send your scores.

If Your Scores Aren’t Online Yet

Most scores are available within the same score release window, but some might not be. If you fall within this group, you'll get a message telling you to check back—usually about a week later.

Some reasons scores may be delayed:

  • You took a makeup test later than the actual test day.
  • Your answer sheet was received late.
  • Your answer sheet is missing information.
  • Your answer sheet information is inconsistent with your registration information.
  • An irregularity was reported at your test site.

We understand it can be frustrating if you don't see your scores when you're expecting them, and we appreciate your patience. If your scores aren’t delayed, you can troubleshoot missing scores.

August 26 Test Day

If you took the SAT with Essay:

  • September 18: Your multiple-choice scores become available online.
  • By September 20: Your SAT Essay scores become available.
  • Within 10 days after you receive all scores: We send colleges your scores, and we send your paper score report if you requested one.

If you took the SAT:

  • September 18: Online and paper score reports become available.
  • Within 10 days after you receive scores: We send colleges your scores.

Learn how to send scores.

October 7 Test Day

If you took the SAT with Essay:

  • October 20–26: Your multiple-choice scores become available online during this window.
  • By October 31: Your SAT Essay scores become available.
  • Within 10 days after you receive all scores: We send colleges your scores, and we send your paper score report if you requested one.

If you took the SAT:

  • October 20–26: Online and paper score reports become available during this window.
  • Within 10 days after you receive scores: We send colleges your scores.

Learn how to send scores.

October 11 Test Day

If you took the SAT on a school day:

  • November 3: Online and paper score reports become available.
  • Within 10 days after you receive scores: We send colleges your scores.

Score release dates may vary if you took the SAT during a statewide administration.

Learn how to send scores.

November 4 Test Day

If you took the SAT with Essay:

  • November 17–23: Your multiple-choice scores become available online during this window.
  • By November 28: Your SAT Essay scores become available.
  • Within 10 days after you receive all scores: We send colleges your scores, and we send your paper score report if you requested one.

If you took the SAT:

  • November 17–23: Online and paper score reports become available during this window.
  • Within 10 days after you receive scores: We send colleges your scores.

Learn how to send scores.

December 2 Test Day

If you took the SAT with Essay:

  • December 15–21: Your multiple-choice scores become available online during this window.
  • By December 26: Your SAT Essay scores become available.
  • Within 10 days after you receive all scores: We send colleges your scores, and we send your paper score report if you requested one.

If you took the SAT:

  • December 15–21: Online and paper score reports become available during this window.
  • Within 10 days after you receive scores: We send colleges your scores.

Learn how to send scores.

March 7 Test Day

If you took the SAT on a school day:

  • March 29: Online and paper score reports become available.
  • Within 10 days after you receive scores: We send colleges your scores.

Score release dates may vary if you took the SAT during a statewide administration.

Learn how to send scores.

March 10 Test Day

If you took the SAT with Essay:

  • March 23–29: Your multiple-choice scores become available online during this window.
  • By April 3: Your SAT Essay scores become available.
  • Within 10 days after you receive all scores: We send colleges your scores, and we send your paper score report if you requested one.

If you took the SAT:

  • March 23–29: Online and paper score reports become available during this window.
  • Within 10 days after you receive scores: We send colleges your scores.

Learn how to send scores.

March 21 Test Day

If you took the SAT on a school day:

  • April 13: Online and paper score reports become available.
  • Within 10 days after you receive scores: We send colleges your scores.

Score release dates may vary if you took the SAT during a statewide administration.

Learn how to send scores.

April 10 Test Day

If you took the SAT on a school day:

  • May 3: Online and paper score reports become available.
  • Within 10 days after you receive scores: We send colleges your scores.

Score release dates may vary if you took the SAT during a statewide administration.

Learn how to send scores.

April 24 Test Day

If you took the SAT on a school day:

  • May 17: Online and paper score reports become available.
  • Within 10 days after you receive scores: We send colleges your scores.

Score release dates may vary if you took the SAT during a statewide administration.

Learn how to send scores.

May 5 Test Day

If you took the SAT with Essay:

  • May 18–24: Your multiple-choice scores become available online during this window.
  • By May 29: Your SAT Essay scores become available.
  • Within 10 days after you receive all scores: We send colleges your scores, and we send your paper score report if you requested one.

If you took the SAT:

  • May 18–24: Online and paper score reports become available during this window.
  • Within 10 days after you receive scores: We send colleges your scores.

Register for the May SAT or SAT with Essay.

Learn how to send scores.

June 2 Test Day

If you took the SAT with Essay:

  • July 11: Your multiple-choice and SAT Essay scores become available online.
  • Within 10 days after you receive all scores: We send colleges your scores, and we send your paper score report if you requested one.

If you took the SAT:

  • July 11: Online and paper score reports become available.
  • Within 10 days after you receive scores: We send colleges your scores.

Register for the June SAT or SAT with Essay.

Learn how to send scores.

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