Sat Essay 9 Percentile

If you took the SAT from 2011-2015, you may be wondering what your percentile score is on the SAT. Is a 1500 on the SAT in 2011 the same percentile score as a 1500 in 2015? Do percentile scores change over time?

In this article, I will explain SAT percentile scores, how they change, and I'll provide the percentile scores for SAT combined scores and section scores for 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011.

Note: Go to this article instead if you're looking for historical percentiles for the new SAT (tests taken March 2016 and later).

 

What Are Percentile Scores?

Percentile scores reveal how well you did in relation to other people. If you scored in the 99th percentile, then you did better than 99% of the people who took the test. If you scored in the 50th percentile, then you scored higher than 50% of the people who took the test.

The College Board determines its percentile scores annually from the scores of college-bound high school seniors who took the SAT. The higher your percentile score, the better you did relative to other high school seniors

 

Do Percentile Scores Change?

Generally, percentile scores for equivalent SAT scores stay the same from year to year. For example, a combined SAT score of 2180 was the 98th percentile in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

However, percentile scores for the same combined and section scores can change very slightly. A combined score of 1990 was the 92nd percentile for 2014, but it was the 93rd percentile in 2011-2013 and 2015. Similarly, a score of 630 on Critical Reading was the 86th percentile in 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015, but it was the 87th percentile in 2012.

The SAT does try to utilize its scoring system so that equivalent SAT scores are indicative of the same percentile scores and skill level, regardless of when the test was taken. The purpose of the SAT is to provide a valid way to compare students. A score of 1600 from March 2015 is supposed to be equivalent to a 1600 from April 2015 or April 2007

 

How Should You Use This Data and Why Is It Important?

Your percentile score is the most straightforward way to determine if you got a good or bad SAT score. If you scored higher than the majority of test-takers, then you did well. However, when you apply to a specific college, you're being compared to the other students who apply to that school. Most colleges publicize their 25th and 75th percentile SAT scores. If you want to be competitive for admission at a certain college, then your target score should be around the school's 75th percentile score.

Also, percentile scores help put your scores in context. There may not seem to be much difference between a 680 on the Critical Reading section and a 600 on Math, but the Critical Reading score is the 94th percentile while the Math score is the 75th (according to 2015 SAT percentiles). Raising each section score by 100 points would raise the Critical Reading percentile ranking by 5 points but the Math by 18. If you're considering retaking the SAT, your percentile scores can help you determine how you should prioritize your time.

Similarly, a small composite score increase can have a huge impact on your percentile score if you received a middle score. For example, in 2015, a 1500 was the 52nd percentile but a 1750 was the 78th. Raising your score 250 points can raise your score from average to among the top 1/4 of test-takers.

Finally, seeing the percentile scores for multiple years shows how little variance there is between percentile scores for the same SAT composite or section score in different years. If you're worried about how an older SAT score stacks up with more recent scores, take a look at these charts to get an idea of how it compares.

 

 

 

Composite Score Percentiles, 2015 - 2011

Score2015 Percentile2014 Percentile2013 Percentile2012 Percentile2011 Percentile
240099+99+99+99+99+ 
239099+99+99+99+ 99+ 
238099+99+99+99+ 99+ 
237099+99+99+99+ 99+ 
236099+99+99+99+ 99+ 
235099+99+99+99+ 99+ 
234099+99+99+99+ 99+ 
233099+99+99+99+ 99+ 
232099+99+99+99+ 99+ 
231099+99+99+99+ 99+ 
2300999999+9999+ 
229099999999 99+ 
228099999999 99 
227099999999 99 
226099999999 99 
225099999999 99 
224099999999 99 
223099999999 99 
2220999999 99 99 
2210989898 99 99 
2200989898 98 98 
2190989898 98 98 
2180989898 98 98 
2170989898 98 98 
2160989898 98 98 
2150979797 97 98
2140979797 97 97 
2130979797 97 97 
2120979797 97 97 
2110979697 97 97
2100969696 96 96 
2090969696 96 96 
2080969696 96 96 
2070959595 96 96 
2060959595 95 95 
2050959595 95 95 
2040949494 95 95 
2030949494 94 94 
2020949494 94 94 
2010939393 93 93 
2000939393 93 93 
1990939293 93 93 
1980929292 92 92 
1970929292 92 92 
1960919191 91 91 
1950919191 91 91 
1940909090 90 90 
1930909090 90 90 
1920898989 89 89 
1910898989 89 89 
1900888888 88 88 
1890888788 88 88 
1880878787 87 87 
1870878686 87 86 
1860868686 86 86 
1850858585 85 85 
1840858484 85 84 
1830848484 84 84 
1820838383 83 83 
1810838282 82 82 
1800828182 82 82 
1790818181 81 81 
1780808080 80 80 
1770807979 79 79 
1760797878 79 78 
1750787778 78 78 
1740777777 77 77 
1730767676 76 76 
1720757575 75 75 
1710747474 74 74 
1700747373 73 73 
1690737272 72 72 
1680727171 71 71 
1670717070 70 70 
1660706969 69 69 
1650696868 68 68 
1640686767 67 67 
1630676666 66 66 
1620666565 65 65 
1610656464 64 64 
1600646363 63 63 
1590626262 62 62 
1580616161 61 61 
1570606060 60 59 
1560595958 59 58 
1550585757 57 57 
1540575656 56 56 
1530565555 55 55 
1520555454 54 53 
1510535352 53 52 
1500525251 51 51 
1490515050 50 50 
1480504949 49 49 
1470494848 48 47 
1460484746 47 46 
1450464645 45 45 
1440454444 44 44 
1430444343 43 42 
1420434242 42 41 
1410424140 40 40 
1400404039 39 39 
1390393838 38 38 
1380383737 37 36 
1370373636 36 35 
1360363534 34 34 
1350343433 33 33 
1340333232 32 32 
1330323131 31 30 
1320313030 30 29 
1310302929 29 28 
1300292827 27 27 
1290282726 26 26 
1280272625 25 25 
1270262524 24 24 
1260252423 23 23 
1250242322 22 22 
1240222221 21 21 
1230222120 20 20 
1220212019 19 19 
1210201918 18 18 
1200191817 17 17 
1190181717 16 16 
1180171616 16 15 
1170161515 15 14 
1160151414 14 14 
1150141413 13 13 
1140141313 12 12 
1130131212 11 11 
1120121111 10 11 
1110121111 10 10 
1100111010 
10901010
10801099
1070988
106098
105087
1040777
103076
1020766
101066
100065
99055
98055
97054
960444
95044
94043
93033
92033
91033
90032
89022
88022
87022
86022
85022
84021
83011
82011
81011
80011
79011
78011
770111- 1- 
760111- 1- 1- 
750111- 1- 1- 
7401-1-1- 1- 1- 
7301-1-1- 1- 1- 
7201-1-1- 1- 1- 
7101-1-1- 1- 1- 
7001-1-1- 1- 1- 
6901-1-1- 1- 1- 
6801-1-1- 1- 1- 
6701-1-1- 1- 1- 
6601-1-1- 1- 1- 
6501-1-1- 1- 1- 
6401-1-1- 1- 1- 
6301-1-1- 1- 1- 
6201-1-1- 1- 1- 
6101-1-1- 1- 1- 
600----------

 

 

Section Score Percentiles

 

Critical Reading

Score2015 Percentile2014 Percentile2013 Percentile2012 Percentile2011 Percentile
80099999999+99+
7909999999999
7809999999999
7709999999999
7609999999999
7509898989898
7409898989898
7309797979797
7209697979797
7109696969696
7009695959595
6909594949494
6809493949393
6709292929292
6609191919191
6509090909090
6408988888888
6308686868786
6208484848484
6108282828382
6008080808180
5907877777878
5807575757675
5707372737373
5607070707170
5506766676767
5406464646464
5306160616160
5205757575858
5105454545554
5005150515151
4904847484847
4804444444444
4704140414140
4603737373737
4503534343434
4403131313130
4302827272727
4202525242524
4102221212121
4001919181918
3901716161616
3801514141414
3701312121211
3601110101010
35099898
34087777
33076666
32055555
31054444
30044433
29033333
28033322
27022222
26022222
25022211
24011111
23011111
22011111
21011111
200----------

 

 

Math

Score2015 Percentile2014 Percentile2013 Percentile2012 Percentile2011 Percentile
8009999999999
7909999999999
7809999999899
7709898989898
7609797979798
7509797979797
7409696969696
7309595969696
7209595959595
7109494949494
7009393939393
6909291929292
6809090909090
6708988898989
6608787878787
6508685858586
6408483838384
6308282818282
6208079798080
6107777777877
6007575757475
5907373737273
5807170707070
5706867676767
5606664656464
5506262626262
5405959585858
5305655555555
5205352525252
5105049484948
5004645454546
4904442424241
4804140383938
4703736353536
4603433323232
4503130292929
4402827262626
4302524232323
4202221212120
4101919181817
4001716161615
3901514141313
3801312121111
3701110101010
36099988
35087777
34076666
33065555
32054444
31043333
30033322
29022222
28022222
27011111
26011111
25011111
24011111
23011111
2201-1-1-1-1-
2101-1-1-1-1-
200----------

 

 

Writing

Score2015 Percentile2014 Percentile2013 Percentile2012 Percentile2011 Percentile
80099+99+99+99+99+
7909999999999
7809999999999
7709999999999
7609999999999
7509898989898
7409898989898
7309897989897
7209797979797
7109696969696
7009696969696
6909595959595
6809494949494
6709393939393
6609292929292
6509190909090
6408989898989
6308888888888
6208686868686
6108484848484
6008282828282
5908080808080
5807878787878
5707676767575
5607473737372
5507170707070
5406868686767
5306565656464
5206262616161
5105958585858
5005655555554
4905352515251
4804948484847
4704645454444
4604241414140
4503938373837
4403534343434
4303231303130
4202928272727
4102525242424
4002221212121
3901919181818
3801716161615
3701414131313
3601212111111
3501010999
34088887
33077666
32065555
31054444
30044333
29033333
28032222
27022222
26022211
25021111
24011111
23011111
22011111
21011111-
200----------

 

What's Next?

Check out these posts on what SAT scores measure and if you need SAT scores to transfer colleges.

Finally, learn how to calculate your SAT score.

 

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We've written a guide about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

SAT Essay scoring can be tricky to figure out. Maybe you've already created target goals for your SAT score, following our guide, so you at least have that score goal set.

But where does your essay score fit into all this? What is a good SAT essay score? This article will answer those questions.

Note: The information in this article is for the old (pre-March-2016) SAT essay, which was scored out of 12 and part of the Writing section. Scores for the March 2016 SAT were only released May 10th, 2016, which means that data on percentiles and averages aren't going to be available for a while yet. We'll update this article as soon as the information comes out.

feature image credit: Doing Great by Eli Christman, used under CC BY 2.0/Cropped from original.

 

What Is the SAT Essay Out Of?

Before you can know what a good SAT essay score is, you need to know how many points you can get total on the essay. So what's the SAT essay out of?

Currently, the SAT essay is scored on a scale of 1 to 6 by two graders, for a total essay score out of 12. Your essay is scored holistically, which means you don’t get bumped down to a certain essay grade if you make, for instance, a certain number of comma errors. Instead, SAT essay scorers use the SAT essay rubric to grade your essay as a whole.

Note: SAT essay scoring will change beginning with the March 2016 SAT. For more information on that change, read our other articles on the new SAT essay prompts and the new SAT essay.

 

What Is a Good SAT Essay Score?

As with most things on the SAT, a good essay score depends on what your goals are. These goals should be concrete and determined by the colleges you’re applying to - after all, if your reach schools have an average essay score of 9, then there's no need to burn yourself out trying to get that elusive 12.

To some extent, your essay score goal will also be influenced by your performance on the multiple choice section of SAT Writing. If you do better on multiple-choice questions, you may be able to cut yourself some slack in the essay department.

But how do figure out what your SAT Writing (and SAT essay) goals should be? Use our three-step process, explained below.

 

Step 1: Know Your Target SAT Writing Score

If you’ve read our free ebook on calculating your target SAT score, you may already have figured out your target SAT Writing score. If not, it's time to calculate it! I'll walk through the process using the example of Virginia Commonwealth Unversity.

First, download this worksheet. It's designed for calculating your target SAT score out of 2400, so you'll have to modify it a little bit. Fill in the schools you want to apply to in the leftmost column. Here's what the worksheet will look like for Virginia Commonwealth University:

 

 

Next, google "[name of school] average SAT writing" to get the middle 50% of all SAT Writing scores. For instance, if you're interested in Virginia Commonwealth University, you'd do the following search:

 

 

There'll usually be a collegeapps.about.com link that has this information. Sometimes (as you can see above) the college website will also pop up, so you can use that to double-check your numbers. You're looking for the 25th and 75th percentile scores on the SAT Writing section.

A quick refresher on what "percentile scores" mean: 25th percentile means that 25% of the students attending have a score at or below that number (below average). The 75th percentile means that 75% of students have a score at or below that number (above average). In essence, the 25th/75th percentile score range covers the middle 50% of all students admitted to Virginia Commonwealth University.

If the sites don’t list a specific SAT Writing score range, you can divide the top and bottom of the overall SAT score range by 3 to get a general idea of what your Writing score needs to be. In this case, there is information about the SAT Writing score range, so we can fill that in on the worksheet:

 

 

Do the same for all of the schools you want to apply to. Include dream or “reach” schools, but don’t include “safety schools” (schools you think you have at least a 90% chance of getting into).

Once you've filled in the information for all of the schools you want to apply to, average the 25th percentile and 75th percentile columns, then choose a target SAT Writing score with that information.

 

 

As it says on the worksheet, we recommend that you take the 75th percentile score as your target SAT Writing score. It'll give you a very strong chance of getting into the schools you’ve listed. If you’re applying to humanities programs, you may even want to consider a higher score target for SAT Writing.

 

Step 2: Find an Official SAT Writing Score Chart

The next step is to take a look at an SAT Writing score chart to find out the range of essay scores that will get you your target SAT Writing score. The chart will differ in precise score differences from test to test, but it can at least give you a broad idea of the range.

Let's say that your target SAT Writing score is 576 (rounded up to 580). I've highlighted this in green in the following SAT Writing score chart (from an official SAT practice test):

 

Writing MC

Raw Score

Essay Raw Score

12

11

10

9

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

0

49

800

800

800

800

790

760

750

730

720

710

690

680

48

800

800

780

770

750

720

710

690

680

670

650

640

47

790

770

760

740

720

700

680

660

650

640

630

620

46

770

750

740

720

700

680

660

650

630

620

610

600

45

750

740

720

710

690

660

650

630

620

610

590

580

44

740

730

710

690

670

650

630

620

600

590

580

570

43

730

710

700

680

660

640

620

600

590

580

560

550

42

720

700

680

670

650

630

610

590

580

570

550

540

41

700

690

670

660

640

610

600

580

570

560

540

530

40

690

680

660

650

630

600

590

570

560

550

530

520

39

690

670

650

640

620

590

580

560

550

540

520

510

38

680

660

640

630

610

590

570

550

540

530

510

500

37

670

650

640

620

600

580

560

540

530

520

500

490

36

660

640

630

610

590

570

550

530

520

510

490

490

35

650

640

620

600

580

560

540

530

510

500

490

480

34

640

630

610

590

570

550

530

520

510

490

480

470

33

630

620

600

590

570

540

530

510

500

490

470

460

32

630

610

600

580

560

540

520

500

490

480

460

450

31

620

600

590

570

550

530

510

500

480

470

460

450

30

610

600

580

560

540

520

500

490

480

460

450

440

29

610

590

570

560

540

520

500

480

470

460

440

430

28

600

580

570

550

530

510

490

470

460

450

430

420

27

590

580

560

540

520

500

480

470

450

440

430

420

26

580

570

550

540

510

490

480

460

450

440

420

410

25

580

560

550

530

510

490

470

450

440

430

410

400

24

570

550

540

520

500

480

460

450

430

420

410

400

23

560

550

530

510

490

470

450

440

430

410

400

390

22

560

540

520

510

490

470

450

430

420

410

390

380

21

550

530

520

500

480

460

440

420

410

400

380

380

20

540

530

510

490

470

450

430

420

400

390

380

370

19

530

520

500

490

470

440

430

410

400

390

370

360

18

530

510

500

480

460

440

420

400

390

380

360

350

17

520

500

490

470

450

430

410

400

380

370

360

350

16

510

500

480

470

440

420

400

390

380

360

350

340

15

510

490

470

460

440

420

400

380

370

360

340

330

14

500

480

470

450

430

410

390

370

360

350

330

330

13

490

480

460

440

420

400

380

370

350

340

330

320

12

480

470

450

440

410

390

380

360

350

340

320

310

11

480

460

440

430

410

390

370

350

340

330

310

300

10

470

450

440

420

400

380

360

340

330

320

300

300

9

460

450

430

410

390

370

350

340

320

310

300

290

8

450

440

420

400

380

360

340

330

320

300

290

280

7

440

430

410

400

380

350

340

320

310

300

280

270

6

440

420

400

390

370

350

330

310

300

290

270

260

5

430

410

390

380

360

340

320

300

290

280

260

250

4

420

400

380

370

350

330

310

290

280

270

250

240

3

410

390

370

360

340

320

300

280

270

260

240

230

2

390

380

360

350

320

300

290

270

260

250

230

220

1

380

370

350

330

310

290

270

260

240

230

220

210

0

370

350

340

320

300

280

260

240

230

220

200

200

-1

350

340

320

300

280

260

240

230

210

200

200

200

-2

340

320

300

290

270

250

230

210

200

200

200

200

-3

320

300

290

270

250

230

210

200

200

200

200

200

-4 and below

310

300

280

260

240

220

200

200

200

200

200

200

 

As you can see in the chart above, there are theoretically over ten ways to get a 580 on SAT Writing, with anywhere from a 25-46 multiple-choice raw score and a 0-12 essay score.

But is it really realistic to expect to score a 12 on the SAT essay if your multiple-choice raw score is only a 25? Probably not. In 2015, the average SAT Writing score was a 484, and the average SAT essay score was a 7 (data from the CollegeBoard; for more on this, read our upcoming article on average SAT Writing scores).

Based on this information (and on an official practice SAT Writing score chart), we've created a table of realistic essay scores you can expect to achieve if you're scoring in a certain range:

 

SAT Writing Score Range

Realistic Essay Score

200-340

4 or below

340-440

5

440-540

6

540-640

7

640-740

8

740-800

9 or above

 

So while you can get a 580 on SAT Writing with an essay score from 0-12, you're more likely to do so if you can score a 7 or above on the essay.

 

Step Three: Take a Timed SAT Writing Section and Score It

The final step is to see what your multiple choice score is now so that you know how much prep time you'll have to put in. To do this, you'll need to take a timed SAT Writing section and calculate your multiple-choice raw score. The best way to get a realistic idea of what your raw multiple-choice Writing score is would be to take a full-length practice test (because it’ll give you an idea of how tired you get from the other sections and how you deal with switching back and forth). If you don't have the time to do this, just take the Writing sections from an official SAT practice test, adhering to the time limits.

How do you calculate your multiple-choice raw Writing score? Use the following equation:

Your raw score = (# of questions you got right - # of questions you got wrong x 0.25)

For example, if you answered 34 (out of49) questions right, skipped 7, and got 8 questions wrong, your raw score would be:

34 – (8 x .25) = 34 – 2 = 32

With a raw score of 32, you can get anything from a 450 to a 630 on SAT Writing, depending on your essay score. If you stay at the same multiple-choice raw score, you'll need an essay score of 9 or above to make your target Writing score of 580. This is a tough essay score to get for anyone, especially considering the average essay score for 2015 was a 7.

As you increase your multiple-choice raw score, the essay score needed to get your target score will drop. To use the example from before, if you're aiming for an SAT Writing score of 580, a realistic essay score would be a 7; according to the SAT Writing score chart above, this means you'll need to increase your raw multiple-choice score to a 37 (a far more manageable goal for most students than raising their essay scores to a 9).

 

Actions To Take

Figure out your target SAT Writing score, using the worksheet above.

Use an SAT Writing scoring scale to figure out the essay grade you’ll need to shoot for to make your target SAT Writing score.

Figure out how you’re doing on the Writing multiple choice questions and how much you need to improve (both on the multiple-choice questions and on the essay) to meet your SAT Writing score goal.

 

What’s Next?

Get the inside scoop on what really goes on behind the scenes with our strategies based on interviews with real essay graders.

Can you write a high-scoring SAT essay in less than a page? Discover how essay length affects your score in this article.

Still confused about how the SAT essay is scored? Try our article that explains the official SAT essay scoring policy and what strategies you should use to take advantage of it.

Curious about how well everyone does on the SAT essay? Read our article to find out what’s an average SAT essay score.

 

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