Scoring Your Practice SAT

Scoring your practice SAT was easy for a few years. The College Board had an app, Daily Practice for the SAT. It was free and would scan and score your practice SAT within a couple of minutes. Despite some glitches and peculiarities, it worked well when it worked. It was a bit finicky and you needed to be careful when scanning your answers. You had to be certain to keep your answer sheet completely unwrinkled, use natural lighting, but not too much, and be patient.

Now, however, the APP has been discontinued. That’s terrible news.

For now, you’ll have to score your SAT practice test on your own.

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Scoring Your Practice SAT

Scoring your practice SAT will now take a few more steps. Basically, it involves you taking a REAL practice SAT. Then, you’ll transcribe your answers onto a Google Sheet or Excel Spreadsheet. Both are similar processes. Here, we’ll walk through using Google Sheets.

So long as you have a Gmail account, you can use this option for free. And, as most high school students are familiar already with Google Docs, this should be easy.


Use a Real practice SAT. Real? Yes, real. That means it’s from the College Board. You have three options for this:

First Option for Scoring Your Practice SAT

Your Baseline SAT Score

Buy the Official SAT Study Guide (OSSG). You can buy it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Having a copy of the OSSG is preferred as you will have a print copy of the test. This is 95% what you will see on your test day. But, rather than a huge book, your actual SAT will be more on the scale of a 70-page pamphlet.

Students prefer this option as they don’t have to print it (option 2) or scroll up and down between pages as with a digital version (option 3). As the OSSG is the most convenient option, most students prefer it.

The primary disadvantage of this option is the cost. Add to that the time waiting for the copy to arrive to your home. Another small disadvantage is that you’ll have scribbled on the test as you take it. So, if you want to take a particular test again, you’ll have to make do with seeing your notes on the test itself. If you do want to retake a test or section, your experience will resemble working through a textbook that’s been in your school for ten years or more: lots of notes and underlining. This can be distracting.

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Second Option

Download a real SAT here. Then, print it out. Before printing, some advice:

Know that you’ll be printing about 75 pages. You will want to scan the PDF first to know which pages to print. You really only need the multiple choice question pages themselves and the 5-page of answer sheets. The question pages are about 65 in all. Your answer sheets are 5 pages and resemble a scantron. This is most important as you will want to write down your answers as you would a real test.

taking your practice sat test
Screenshot 2019-07-20 15.21.56

The primary disadvantage of this method is the printing. This will take a bit of time, a lot of toner or ink, and some organizing. By the end of this, you’ll have about 70 pages lying about. Please organize these pages into separate categories of test itself and answer sheets. You can further subdivide the test into the sections: Reading; Writing and Language Test; Math No Calculator; Math Calculator. This way you can keep the test divided into discrete parts. Helpful for the time breaks between sections.

The advantage of this option is that a printed version of your SAT will be closest to what you’ll see on the test. By printing it, you have the option of scribbling on it. This might seem trivial, but as you progress in your SAT prep, you’ll find that scribbling is invaluable. I’m a huge advocate of making diagrams, underlining, writing steps to solve equations. But, that’s for another post.

And, by printing the test, you can more easily flip between pages. You might have a reading passage on page 28 and the questions on page 29. This browsing ability helps.

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Third Option

Just download the PDF. You can view the test on a desktop, laptop, or tablet. If you have a tablet, that’s likely the preferred option. A tablet is the proffered viewing mode as you can more easily scroll between pages. Oh, and a bit of advice: turn off all notifications. You don’t want to be interrupted while taking your test.

The biggest disadvantage of this option is that you’ll view the test on a computer screen. This is not how the actual SAT is administered. Also, you’ll be dependent on a digital device. You might lose charge, be disrupted by notifications, have trouble reading some diagrams, etc.

The advantage: lowest cost option. Basically, free.

However, you will want to print out the 5 pages of answer sheets if you can. This part of the actual administration of the SAT should be duplicated. You will want to be familiar with filling in those bubbles!

STEP TWO: Take Your SAT Practice Test

Once you’ve decided which test source option (book, printed PDF, or PDF on an e-reader) works best for you, take your test. Be sure to follow timing protocol. Also, be sure to take the test when you are relaxed and will be undisturbed for the duration of your test.

Also, be sure to write down your answers.

Then, transcribe your answers onto a Google Doc. The link below is from a Google Sheet with the correct answers for the first practice test. Below is an image of what it would look like:

Basically, you can copy and paste columns of this table next to the corresponding section of your answers. You will line up your answers in the column just to the right of the correct answers for that section. Doing this for all the 4 multiple choice sections will help you score your test more easily.

Next, mark your wrong answers. The easiest way to do this is by filling the background of that particular cell in a non-white color. This will make it easier to count your wrong answers.

STEP THREE: Calculate Your Raw Score

This method assumes you answered all the questions per section. (Even if you don’t know all the answers and have to guess, please do so. No penalty for guessing. Even if your parents say otherwise. You can Google this.)

After that, you can count your number wrong. You can subtract that from the total number of questions per section.

Scoring varies a little bit by section. Let’s walk through some examples as they will help you understand the scoring process.

For the first section, Reading, perhaps you marked 12 wrong answers. You can subtract that from 52 and your raw score would be 40. Write this down.

For the second section, you might’ve missed 10 questions. Subtract that from the total of 44 questions and you have a raw score of 34 for section 2, the WALT.

In your third section you marked 6 wrong answers. Subtract that from 20 and you have a raw score of 14.

Last, in section 4, you missed 10. Subtract that from the total of 38 and your raw score is 28.

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STEP FOUR: Convert Your Raw Score to Scaled Score

Then look at this chart below to convert from your raw score to your scaled score. Please keep in mind that the scoring rubric varies a little from test to test. So, you should follow the conversion table specific to your test.

Scoring practice SAT

For our example from above:

Reading (section 1) is a raw score of 40. This converts to a 33 Reading Test Score.

Next, the WALT is a raw score of 34, converting to a 32 WALT.

Then, for the math sections, you’ll add your raw scores. That’s 14+28=42. The 42 math raw score is a 630 on the math.

STEP FIVE: Calculate Your Composite Score

For your composite, multiply your scaled Reading and WALT. Referring to our example, that’s a 33 Reading x 10 =330 and a 32 Walt  x 10=320. Together, they’re a 650.

For the math, it’s the 630.

So, your composite is a 1280, with 650 (Verbal ((what it used to be called))) and 630 Math.

Your Scores Will Fluctuate

Be of good cheer! Your practice test scores will fluctuate. Not to worry. You’re looking for an increased score over time. There will be peaks and valleys along the way. That’s part of the process.

Keep after it and you’ll reach your SAT score goal!

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By Martin

Martin McSweeney is a National Merit Finalist, Pomona College Graduate, and member of MENSA. He has worked at the Center for Talented Youth (Loyola Marymount University campus); Upward Bound (Harvey Mudd campus); various test prep companies; and Whittier High School. Now, Martin helps students of all abilities improve their relationship with math.