SAT Frequently Asked Questions: Part 2

Today’s story is a continuation of our FAQ series on the SAT.

If you want your child to go to college, than at some point they will more than likely have to face this testing process (or the ACT).

Their best tools for success will be preparation and knowledge — so read on for more frequently asked questions relating to the SAT.

– Scott


How is the test scored?

As mentioned in our SAT FAQs Part I, the SAT is broken up into three sections (Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing), each with a minimum score of 200 and a maximum score of 800.

In order to determine that score on the reading and math sections of the test, their “raw score” is tabulated first.

Test takers receive one point for every correct multiple choice answer.

Students must be careful, however, not to guess blindly if they get stuck; 1/4 point will be subtracted from the “raw score” for every incorrect multiple choice answer.

Conversely, no points are deducted for omitted questions, so students must strategize about which questions to guess on and which to leave blank. A good rule of thumb is if you can eliminate two of the multiple choice answers, than your odds are good enough to take a guess.

Also remember that, in the math section, no points are deducted if you guess wrong on questions where answers must be written in by the test taker.

So, after the “raw score” is calculated, it is converted to the 200-800 point scale by a process that the College Board calls “equating.”

This process takes into account any differences in the level of difficulty from test to test, and what you are left with is your final score for the reading or math section.

The writing section of the SAT is scored a bit more subjectively, since the test makers are looking for the overall impression that a student’s essay makes, rather than giving a standardized grade based on specific criteria.

Two readers score the essay on a scale of 1-6 and the two numbers are combined for a final score of 2-12. This score, along with multiple choice aspects of the writing section, is also “equated” to the final 200-800 point scale.

How many times should I take the SAT?

While there is no real standard or rule for how many times your child should take the SAT, generally people elect to take the test only once or twice.

Most research suggests that scores do not improve noticeably after the second attempt.

Nonetheless, no result is typical and if you need a specific score on one of the sections in order to get into your college of choice, it may be worth taking a third or fourth time.

Luckily, most schools accept your three highest scores even if they were not achieved at the same time. For example, if in their first attempt a student scores a 600 on math and a 700 on reading, and then a 650 on math and a 680 on reading the second time, the 650 in math and 700 in reading would both count.

Just make sure that the college you apply to conforms to this practice, since each school utilizes the SAT differently for the admissions process.

Am I allowed to use a calculator?

Calculators are allowed during the test but not required. Graphing calculators will be manually reset by the test administrator prior to taking the test.

Where is the SAT held?

Students planning to take the SAT can find the nearest official test center (usually a high school or college) at

How do I register for the SAT?

You can either register for the SAT by mail or online at the College Board website. You can get a hard copy of the registration form from your guidance counselor or the test administering agency: ETS (

The registration deadline is five weeks prior to the test date.

Can I still take the SAT if I didn’t register ahead of time?

It is a safer bet to register in advance, but walk-ins can be accommodated if there is space. However, you must still call ETS in advance in order to be allowed entry.

Can I cancel my SAT scores?

If a student wishes to cancel their score for any reason they must pick up a “Request to Cancel Test Scores” form from the test administrator after they finish.

ETS must receive the completed form by the following Wednesday, otherwise the score will forever be on record.

What is Score Choice™?

Score Choice is an optional feature used by College Board which gives flexibility to the student as to the scores that they report to colleges.

As previously mentioned, every college has their own methods of utilizing the SAT for admissions. Score Choice gives every student the chance to present their scores according to the standards of each school they apply to.

If the test taker elects not to use Score Choice, all of their results will automatically be included in their official SAT report which is sent to colleges.

These FAQs should get you well on your way to proper preparation for the SAT, and if you have any more questions, a quick search of should turn up the answer.

Your child’s guidance counselor can also point you in the right direction.

To Your Family’s Successful SAT Preparation,

Scott Weingold
Co-Founder, College Planning Network, LLC
College Made Simple – The Free Educational Resource of the College Planning Network, LLC


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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News,, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.