No equating or fancy lookup table is involved. There is no official totaling or averaging of scores, although colleges may choose to do so. Readers avoid extremes What is almost universally true about grading of standardized test essays is that readers gravitate to the middle of the scale. The default instinct is to nudge a score above or below a perceived cutoff or midpoint rather than to evenly distribute scores. When the only options are 1, 2, 3, or 4, the consequence is predictable—readers give out a lot of 2s and 3s and very few 1s and 4s.
Analysis scores are outliers. A third of readers give essays a 1 in Analysis. Below is the distribution of reader scores across all dimensions.
What is a good SAT Essay score? We also found that the reading and writing dimensions were similar, while analysis scores lagged by a point across all sub-groups. The loose correlation of essay score to Total Score and the high standard deviation of essay scores means that students at all levels see wide variation of scores.
We would advise students to use these results only as broad benchmarks. Scores that are consistently 2 or more points below the means may be more of a concern. College Board recently released essay results for the class of , so score distributions are now available.
From these, percentiles can also be calculated. We provide these figures with mixed feelings. On the one hand, percentile scores on such an imperfect measure can be highly misleading. On the other hand, we feel that students should understand the full workings of essay scores.
This result is actually quite predictable. Whereas math and verbal scores are the result of dozens of objective questions, the essay is a single question graded subjectively. What text is used in the essay stimulus? How well will the student respond to the style and subject matter? What other essays has the reader recently scored? Even good writers run into the unpredictability involved and the fact that essay readers give so few high scores.
That swing makes a large difference if we judge scores exclusively by percentiles, but essay scores are simply too blurry to make such cut-and-dry distinctions. What do colleges expect? We expect that things will play out similarly for the SAT and that most students admitted to highly selective colleges will have domain scores in the 5—7 range possibly closer to 4—6 for analysis.
Update as of October The University of California system has published the 25th—75th percentile ranges for enrolled students. It has chosen to work with total scores. Those scores are inline with our estimates above. How will colleges use the domain scores? Colleges have been given no guidance by College Board on how to use essay scores for admission.
Will they sum the scores? Will they average them? Will they value certain areas over others? Chances are that if you are worrying too much about those questions, then you are likely losing sight of the bigger picture. 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. 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. 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. 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.
The essay score is part of the SAT's writing component, which includes three sections; the essay is the only part of the test's writing portion that involves actual composition. Why are there no percentiles for the essay on an SAT score report? Schools do not always list this policy on their website or in their application materials, so it is hard to have a comprehensive list. Figuring out the Composite Writing Score Refer to College Board's "Getting Ready for the SAT" booklet for the official conversion chart showing the relationship between the essay score and multiple-choice writing section score. Instead, a student opting to take the SAT Essay receives 2—8 scores in three dimensions: reading, analysis, and writing. Scores that are consistently 2 or more points below the means may be more of a concern.
Will colleges have access to my essay?
Has limited variety in sentence structures; sentence structures may be repetitive. The response may deviate noticeably from a formal style and objective tone. No equating or fancy lookup table is involved. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. Policies are typically finalized in late spring or during the summer. According to the College Board, the essay portion of the writing section counts for about 30 percent of the total writing score.
Has a wide variety in sentence structures. With the overhaul of the SAT came an attempt to make the essay more academically defensible while also making it optional as the ACT essay had long been. We would advise students to use these results only as broad benchmarks.
Has a wide variety in sentence structures. Will they average them? For instance, an essay score of eight and a multiple-choice score of 27 yields a composite writing score of points. What is a good SAT Essay score? Even good writers run into the unpredictability involved and the fact that essay readers give so few high scores.
Has limited variety in sentence structures; sentence structures may be repetitive. The number of excellent colleges not requiring the SAT Essay, though, is long and getting longer.
Lacks a recognizable introduction and conclusion.