ACT writing SAT SAT essay

SAT Essay Scores Explained – Compass Education Group

SAT Essay scores for the new SAT are complicated to interpret, partially, as a result of the School Board has intentionally given them little context. By combining School Board and scholar knowledge, Compass has produced a approach for college kids to guage essay efficiency, and we answer most of the widespread questions concerning the essay.

Why are there no percentiles for the essay on an SAT score report?

No percentiles or norms are offered in scholar reviews. Even schools don’t obtain any summary statistics. Given Compass’ considerations concerning the inaccuracy of essay scoring and the notable failures of the ACT on that entrance, the de-emphasis of norms would appear to be a great factor. The issue is that 10% of schools are sticking with the SAT Essay as an admission requirement. Whereas those schools won’t obtain rating distribution studies from the School Board, it isn’t troublesome for them to assemble their own statistics—officially or unofficially—based mostly on hundreds of applicants. Schools can determine a “good score,” however college students can’t. This asymmetry of data is dangerous to college students, as they are left to take a position how nicely they’ve carried out and the way their scores will probably be interpreted. By means of our evaluation, Compass hopes to offer students and fogeys more context for evaluating SAT Essay scores.

How has scoring modified? Is it still part of a scholar’s Complete Rating?

On the previous SAT, the essay was a required element of the Writing part and made up roughly one-third of a scholar’s 200–800 score. The essay rating itself was simply the sum (2–12) of two readers’ 1–6 scores. Readers have been anticipated to grade holistically and to not concentrate on individual elements of the writing. The SAT essay came beneath a substantial amount of criticism for being too loosely structured. Factual accuracy was not required; it was not that troublesome to make pre-fabricated material match the immediate; many schools discovered the 2–12 essay scores of little use; and the conflation of the essay and “Writing” was, in some instances, blocking using the SAT Writing rating—which included grammar and utilization—solely.

With the 2016 overhaul of the SAT got here an try and make the essay extra academically defensible whereas also making it non-compulsory (because the ACT essay had lengthy been). The essay rating isn’t part of the 400–1600 score. As an alternative, a scholar opting to take the SAT Essay receives 2–8 scores in three dimensions: studying, evaluation, and writing. No equating or fancy lookup table is involved. The scores are simply the sum of two readers’ 1–four scores in every dimension. There isn’t a official totaling or averaging of scores, although schools might select to take action.


Readers keep away from extremes

What is nearly universally true about grading of standardized check essays is that readers gravitate to the middle of the size. The default intuition is to nudge a score above or under a perceived cutoff or midpoint moderately than to evenly distribute scores. When the one choices are 1, 2, 3, or four, the consequence is predictable—readers give out a variety of 2s and 3s and only a few 1s and 4s. Actually, our evaluation exhibits that 80% of all reader scores are 2s or 3s. This, in flip, signifies that a lot of the dimension scores (the sum of the 2 readers) range from 4 to six. Evaluation scores are outliers. A 3rd of readers give essays a 1 in Analysis. Under is the distribution of reader scores across all dimensions.

What is an effective SAT Essay rating?

By combining a number of knowledge sources—including in depth School Board scoring info—Compass has estimated the imply and mode (commonest) essay scores for college kids at numerous score ranges. We also found that the studying and writing dimensions have been comparable, while evaluation scores lagged by some extent throughout all sub-groups. These figures should not be seen as cutoffs for “good” scores. The unfastened correlation of essay rating to Complete Rating and the high commonplace deviation of essay scores signifies that college students in any respect levels see large variation of scores. The typical essay-taking scholar scores a 1,080 on the SAT and receives slightly below a 5/4/5.


We might advise college students to make use of these outcomes solely as broad benchmarks. It might not be at all unusual to score some extent under these means. Scores which are persistently 2 or more factors under the means could also be more of a priority.

School Board just lately released essay outcomes for the category of 2017, so score distributions at the moment are obtainable. From these, percentiles can be calculated. We provide these figures with combined emotions. On the one hand, percentile scores on such an imperfect measure may be highly deceptive. However, we feel that college students should perceive the complete workings of essay scores.

The position of luck

What is irritating to many college students on the SAT and ACT is that they will rating 98th percentile in most areas after which get a “middling” score on the essay. This outcome is definitely fairly predictable. Whereas math and verbal scores are the result of dozens of objective questions, the essay is a single question graded subjectively. To exchange statistical concepts with a colloquial one—much more “luck” is involved than on the multiple-choice sections. What textual content is used in the essay stimulus? How properly will the scholar reply to the type and material? Which of the a whole lot of readers have been assigned to grade the scholar’s essay? What different essays has the reader lately scored?

Even good writers run into the unpredictability involved and the fact that essay readers give so few high scores. A 5 signifies that the Readers A and B gave the essay a 2 and a 3, respectively. Which reader was “right?” If the essay had encountered two readers like Reader A, it would have acquired a 4. If the essay had been given two readers like Reader B, it would have acquired a 6. That swing makes a big difference if we decide scores solely by percentiles, however essay scores are simply too blurry to make such cut-and-dry distinctions. Greater than 80% of scholars receive considered one of three scores—4, 5, or 6 on the studying and writing dimensions and three, 4, or 5 on analysis.

What do schools anticipate?

It’s unlikely that many schools will launch a breakdown of essay scores for admitted college students—particularly since so few are requiring it. What we know from experience with the ACT, although, is that even on the best faculties within the country, the 25th–75th percentile scores of admitted college students have been 8–10 on the ACT’s previous 2–12 score vary. We anticipate that things will play out equally for the SAT and that the majority college students admitted to extremely selective schools may have area scores within the 5–7 range (probably nearer to four–6 for analysis). It’s even less possible for college kids to common a excessive score throughout all three areas than it’s to acquire a single excessive mark. We estimate that only a fraction of a % of scholars will average an 8—for example [8/8/8, 7/8/8, 8/7/8, or 8,8,7].

Update as of October 2017. The University of California system has revealed the 25th–75th percentile ranges for enrolled college students. It has chosen to work with complete scores. The very best ranges—together with those at UCLA and Berkeley—are 17–20. These scores are inline with our estimates above.

How will schools use the area scores?

Schools have been given no steerage by School Board on the right way to use essay scores for admission. Will they sum the scores? Will they average them? Will they worth sure areas over others? Likelihood is that in case you are worrying an excessive amount of about those questions, then you’re doubtless dropping sight of the bigger image. We know of no instances where admission committees will make formulaic use of essay scores. The scores are a very small, very error-prone a part of a scholar’s testing portfolio.

How low is just too low?

Are 3s and 4s, then, low sufficient that an in any other case high-scoring scholar ought to retest? There isn’t any one-size-fits-all reply to that question. Typically, it’s a mistake to retest solely to enhance an essay score until a scholar is confident that the SAT Complete Score could be maintained or improved. A scholar with a 1340 PSAT and 1280 SAT might really feel that it’s worthwhile to convey up low essay scores as a result of she has beforehand proven that she will do better on the Proof-based Studying and Writing and Math, as properly. A scholar with a 1400 PSAT and 1540 SAT should assume long and exhausting earlier than committing to a retest. Admission outcomes from the category of 2017 might give us some added insight into using SAT Essay scores.

Will schools continue to require the SAT Essay?

For the category of 2017, Compass has ready an inventory of the SAT Essay and ACT Writing insurance policies for 360 of the highest schools. Several of the most important and most prestigious public college methods—California, Michigan, and Texas, for instance, still require the essay, and a variety of highly competitive personal schools do the same—for instance, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford.

The number of wonderful schools not requiring the SAT Essay, though, is lengthy and getting longer. Compass expects even more schools to drop the essay requirement for the courses of 2018 and 2019. Insurance policies are sometimes finalized in late spring or through the summer time.

Should I skip the essay totally?

A standard query relating to SAT scores is whether or not the whole mess could be prevented by skipping the essay. In any case, if only about 10% of schools are requiring the part, is it actually that essential? Regardless of critical misgivings concerning the check and the methods scores are interpreted, Compass still recommends that the majority students take the essay until they’re sure that they won’t be applying to any of the colleges requiring or recommending it. Nationally, about 70% of scholars select to take the essay on no less than one SAT administration. When taking a look at greater scoring segments, that shortly rises to 85–90%. Virtually all Compass college students take the SAT Essay a minimum of once to insure that they don’t miss out on instructional opportunities.

Ought to I prepare for the SAT Essay?

Most Compass students determine to do some preparation for the essay, as a result of taking any a part of a check “cold” may be an unpleasant expertise, and students need to avoid feeling like a retake is important. In addition to training workouts and checks, most students can perform properly sufficient on the SAT Essay after 1–2 hours of tutoring. College students taking a Compass apply SAT may also obtain a scored essay. College students curious about essay writing ideas for the SAT can confer with Compass weblog posts on the difference between the ACT and SAT tasks and using first individual on the essays.

Will I have the ability to see my essay?

Yes. ACT makes it troublesome to acquire a replica of your Writing essay, but School Board consists of it as a part of your online report.

Will schools have entry to my essay? Even when they don’t require it?

Yes, schools are supplied with scholar essays. We all know of only a few circumstances where SAT Essay studying is recurrently carried out. Schools that do not require the SAT Essay fall into the “consider” and “do not consider” camps. Faculties don’t all the time record this coverage on their website or of their software supplies, so it is arduous to have a comprehensive listing. We advocate contacting schools for extra info. Generally, the essay may have little to no impression at schools that do not require or advocate it.

Is the SAT Essay a purpose to take the ACT as an alternative?

Virtually all schools that require the SAT Essay require Writing for ACT-takers. The essays are very totally different on the two exams, however neither may be stated to be universally “easier” or “harder.” Compass recommends that the primary sections of the exams determine your planning. Compass’ content material specialists have additionally written a bit on the best way to attack the ACT essay.

Key hyperlinks in this submit:

ACT and SAT essay necessities
ACT Writing scores defined
Evaluating ACT and SAT essay tasks
Using first individual in ACT and SAT essays
Understanding the “audience and purpose” of the ACT essay
Compass proctored follow testing for the ACT, SAT, and Subject Exams