College PrepSAT

How Is the SAT® Essay Scored?

The score you receive on the essay portion of the SAT exam measures your performance in three areas:

  • Reading
  • Analysis
  • Writing

The scores you receive for these three categories are given by two essay readers who are specially trained to assess this exam section. 

The process for scoring is simple:

  • Both of the readers will give you scores between 1 and 4 for the three specified areas. 
  • Then, the two scores for your reading, two scores for your analysis, and two scores for your writing are added up.
  • The three scores you receive are produced by combining the two graders’ scores. 

When you get your SAT essay scores back, you can expect to receive the three cumulative scores that result from combining the grades each reader gives your essay. Ultimately, you will receive three scores between 2 and 8 for your reading, analysis, and writing

The essay score does not affect your overall exam score. The essay section of the exam used to affect your Writing score, but weighing your essay performance into the writing section has been eliminated from the SAT exam’s scoring process. Since the essay score has zero consequences on the total score you receive on the SAT test, you may not feel that it is as important, especially if it is not required for your applications.

Many schools list the essay as optional in their admissions process, and the relevance of your scores may vary depending on the major or program to which you are applying. 

The official readers are trained to score you fairly and accurately. For an idea of how you will do on the essay portion of the SAT, it is a good idea to take practice tests and become familiar with the prompts, timing, and expectations.

When you sit to write the official essay, you will know what to expect from the prompts. Practice tests can also provide an idea of what your score will be, based on your past performance.

There are no percentiles on the essay score report. When you receive your official score report, you will see that the Reading and Writing and the Math test scores include the opportunity to compare your scores to other students.

These rankings are not available for the SAT essay test because you do not receive a single score: instead, you receive three scores for your reading, analysis, and writing skills.