What is a good SAT score

To answer the question “What is A Good SAT Score?" we are going to walk you through a few things. The number one thing to keep in mind is that a “good” SAT score will mean something different to every person that reads this article. Your main goal is to get a SAT score that gets you into the college of your choice and earns you the most or necessary amount of scholarship money you need to attend that college.

Throughout this article we are going to discuss how SAT scores are calculated, how those scores compare nationally (percentiles), the average accepted SAT scores at universities across the country, and tips and tricks for improving your score.

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The SAT:  Why take it, what is it, how much does it cost…

For some, the SAT has proved to be increasingly useful for getting into the college of their dreams. There are most likely 2 main reasons for taking the SAT:

  1. Your school requires (or prefers) the SAT to that of the ACT.
  2. You did not do well on the ACT.

For some, the SAT proved to be much easier and reaped a much better score compared to when they took the ACT. One reason may be is that you are given more time to complete the SAT - being rushed is why many felt that they scored poorly on the ACT. You have 3 hours to complete a math and evidence-based reading and writing section. An extra 50 minutes is allotted if you choose to write the optional essay.

The test costs $46 ($60 with the essay) and is offered nationally in August, October, November, December, March, May, and June. The highest you can score is a 1600. The average score is a 1060.

Click here to register for the SAT: SAT Registration

SAT Scoring – Understanding How the Scoring Actually Works

So, let’s say you take the SAT. You anxiously await your results for 3 weeks and then suddenly they are available… except you have NO idea what they mean! Is this an average score? A bad one? A “good enough” one?

Click here to access you score: Access Your SAT Score 

The SAT is scored on a scale ranging from 400 – 1600 for your total score and 200 – 800 for each of your two section scores. It does not take a genius to assume that the higher you score the better you did, but is there a certain score on the scale that separates the exceptional from the good to the bad? Let’s go over a detailed explanation of how the scoring works.

The score from 200 – 800 is converted from the raw score you earn on each section. Your raw score essentially means the number of questions you answered correctly. Questions that were answered incorrectly or skipped do not subtract from your raw score.

Your raw score becomes your scaled score through a process that the College Board refers to as “Equating”. In short, equating makes sure that each given test is of equal difficulty to the next test given. For example, a student taking the test in October should be taking a test that shows an equal ability level of another student taking the test in November. Basically - the tests are of equal difficulty. 

Important to note is that equating is not curving your score relative to other students taking the same test on the same day but rather offering slight variations for different test dates. Say the November SAT proved to be more difficult than the October SAT - the raw-score to scaled-score variation will be adjusted so that the two tests are scored fairly. 

That being said, because of equating and the formula varying from test to test, there is no way to consistently calculate your raw score to your scaled score. It ranges from test to test. The College Board does however release raw score to scaled score ranges to give you the closest idea of what your scaled score could be.

  • The reading test is comprised of 52 questions.
  • Writing is comprised of 44 questions.
  • Math is comprised of 58 questions.

So, if you got 44 questions right out of the 58 for math - that would be your raw score. You then compare that on a conversion table to understand what your scaled score would be.

Listed below is a raw score conversion table:

Raw Score Conversion

Source: PrepScholar

 To calculate your scaled score for the evidence-based reading and writing is a tad bit more complex. Follow these steps:

  1. Count the number of answers you got correct (no penalty for wrong answers) for Section 1 (the reading test).
  2. Look in the raw score column for the reading test (above) and match it to the number in the reading section column.
  3. Do the same thing with Section 2 (the writing test).
  4. Add your reading and writing score together.
  5. Multiply that number by 10 and that is your Evidence-based reading and writing score.

Example: Sophia got 44/52 right on the reading test. She matches that number (46) to the conversion table above and discovers that her reading score is a 45. She does the same thing with section 2, the writing test. She scored a 28/44 on the writing test. She matched that number (24) on the raw scale score to a 25 on the writing and language test score column.  Sophia then adds 35 + 25, equaling 60. She multiplies 60 by 10 and is left with her Evidence-based reading and writing score of 600.

So, overall, say you got a 460 on math and a 600 on the reading and writing sections. That would mean you scored overall a 1060 on the SAT: the average score as of 2018.

Let’s get into what a good score could mean for you… 

Understanding Percentiles and Where You Fall Nationally

Much like the ACT, the SAT uses percentiles to showcase where you fall nationally amongst other students who took the test that year. Percentiles are not meant to discourage you if you fall below the average but rather create a means of measurement to understand what is average, above average, and below.

Your percentile score tells you how you scored compared to the rest of the population. Here is a percentile chart from the 2018 SAT, take a look:

Sat score percentiles (2018)

SAT Composite Score Range Percentile Score
1550-1600 99+
1500-1550 99 to 99+
1450-1500 97 to 99
1400-1450 94 to 97
1350-1400 91 to 94
1300-1350 87 to 91
1250-1300 81 to 87
1200-1250 74 to 81
1150-1200 67 to 74
1100-1150 58 to 67
1050-1100 49 to 58
1000-1050 39 to 49
950-1000 31 to 39
900-950 23 to 31
850-900 15 to 23
800-850 10 to 15
750-80 5 to 10
700-750 2 to 5
650-700 1 to 2
600-650 1- to 1
400-600 1-

Source: CollegeBoard

As you can see, there is not much of a difference between percentile scores from about 1300 and up (the differences become even smaller as one reaches a perfect score of 1600). Where it gets interesting is around the average score (1060). For example, even a difference in scores as little as 100 points from 1000 to 1100 is a 19-percentile increase!

This is crucial to understand as you will most likely take the SAT a couple of times. If you are able to raise your score by just 100 points that can be the small push you need to differentiate yourself from another candidate.

SUMMARY OF AVERAGE, GOOD, AND EXCELLENT SAT SCORES

  • Poor: 900 or lower (bottom 25% of test-takers)
  • Average: 1060 (exactly in the middle!)
  • Good: 1200 (top 75% of test-takers)
  • Excellent: 1350+ (90%+ higher than all test-takers)

While we have provided you with some raw data of what makes a “good” score we want to dive in further to help you understand what a good score can and should mean for you!

WHAT A GOOD SAT SCORE SHOULD MEAN FOR YOU

So, we’ve already discussed the average score on the SAT as well as the highest, but what is important to us is for you to understand exactly what you need on your SAT for you to feel good about your score. 

A good score to you should not only mean the acceptance into your top university but all the bells and whistles that come with it… aka scholarships. 

Here is a compiled list of the Top 100 Public & Private Universities and their corresponding averagely accepted SAT Score:

SAT Scores of top 100 public universities

Institution name SAT I Reading and Writing 25th Percentile SAT I Reading and Writing 75th Percentile SAT I Math 25th Percentile SAT I Math 75th Percentile
Texas A & M University-College Station 570 670 570 690
University of Central Florida 580 660 570 660
Ohio State University-Main Campus 610 700 650 750
Florida International University 550 630 530 610
University of Florida 620 710 620 690
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 620 720 650 760
The University of Texas at Austin 620 720 600 740
Arizona State University-Tempe 560 670 560 680
Michigan State University 550 650 550 670
Rutgers University-New Brunswick 590 680 600 720
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 630 710 710 790
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus 580 660 580 680
The University of Texas at Arlington 530 630 530 640
University of Washington-Seattle Campus 590 690 600 730
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 660 730 670 770
University of Houston 560 640 550 640
University of California-Los Angeles 620 710 600 740
Indiana University-Bloomington 570 670 570 680
University of South Florida-Main Campus 580 650 570 660
University of Wisconsin-Madison 620 690 660 760
Purdue University-Main Campus 570 670 580 710
University of California-Berkeley 630 720 630 760
Florida State University 600 670 590 660
California State University-Northridge 460 570 450 550
California State University-Fullerton 510 590 510 590
University of Maryland-College Park 630 720 650 750
Texas State University 510 610 510 590
The University of Alabama 530 640 520 640
University of North Texas 540 640 520 620
California State University-Long Beach 510 610 510 620
University of Georgia 610 690 590 680
University of California-Davis 560 660 570 700
University of Cincinnati-Main Campus 560 660 560 680
Texas Tech University 540 620 530 620
Iowa State University 600 700 560 710
George Mason University 560 650 540 640
Kennesaw State University 550 630 530 610
San Jose State University 500 600 500 610
University of California-San Diego 600 680 610 730
University of Colorado Boulder 580 660 570 680
University of California-Irvine 580 650 590 700
San Diego State University 550 640 540 650
University of South Carolina-Columbia 590 660 580 670
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 590 670 590 690
North Carolina State University at Raleigh 610 680 620 710
Colorado State University-Fort Collins 560 650 540 650
Georgia State University 530 620 510 600
University of Utah 560 670 550 680
University of Iowa 570 680 570 690
California State University-Sacramento 470 570 470 570
Oregon State University 540 650 530 650
Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College 530 640 530 650
University of Missouri-Columbia 570 680 550 670
The University of Texas at San Antonio 520 610 510 600
Virginia Commonwealth University 550 640 520 620
University at Buffalo 520 610 560 650
Washington State University 510 610 510 610
University of Illinois at Chicago 530 650 550 680
University of Nevada-Las Vegas 520 620 510 620
University of Massachusetts-Amherst 590 670 590 690
Florida Atlantic University 540 620 520 600
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 640 720 630 740
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis 500 600 495 590
Auburn University 570 650 560 660
San Francisco State University 480 580 470 570
University of Kentucky 550 660 530 670
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus 370 730 720 790
Ohio University-Main Campus 550 640 530 620
University of North Carolina at Charlotte 560 630 550 640
East Carolina University 520 590 510 590
Kent State University at Kent 530 620 510 600
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus 620 700 620 718
California State University-Los Angeles 450 540 440 540
University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus 580 690 570 690
West Virginia University 510 610 510 600
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville 580 660 560 650
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley 480 570 470 550
Utah State University 490 600 510 620
The University of Texas at Dallas 600 700 620 730
University of Connecticut 600 680 610 710
University of Arkansas 560 640 550 640
Wayne State University 500 610 500 600
Portland State University 500 620 490 600
University of New Mexico-Main Campus 460 590 470 580
University of Nebraska-Lincoln 550 680 550 700
California State Polytechnic University-Pomona 500 610 510 620
Stony Brook University 590 680 620 730
California State University-Fresno 460 560 450 550
Oklahoma State University-Main Campus 540 630 530 630
The University of Texas at El Paso 460 570 460 560
University of California-Santa Barbara 600 680 590 720
Grand Valley State University 530 620 520 610
University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus 540 640 520 640
Clemson University 620 690 600 700
Old Dominion University 500 610 480 590
University of Virginia-Main Campus 660 740 650 760
Boise State University 470 580 470 580
University of Delaware 570 660 560 670
Missouri State University-Springfield 510 625 510 620
University of California-Riverside 550 640 540 660
Central Michigan University 510 610 500 590

Source: National Center for Eduction Statistics 

sat scores of top 100 private universities

Institution name SAT I Reading and Writing 25th Percentile SAT I  Reading and Writing Verbal 75th Percentile
SAT I Math 25th Percentile SAT I Math 75th Percentile
Liberty University 530 640 510 600
Brigham Young University-Idaho 500 600 490 580
New York University 650 730 640 760
University of Southern California 650 730 650 770
Brigham Young University-Provo 610 710 600 700
Boston University 640 720 660 760
Harvard University 730 790 730 800
Columbia University in the City of New York 700 780 710 790
George Washington University 640 720 640 720
University of Pennsylvania 700 770 720 790
Johns Hopkins University 720 770 730 800
Drexel University 580 670 580 690
Cornell University 690 760 700 790
Syracuse University 580 670 580 680
Northwestern University 700 770 720 790
Northeastern University 680 750 690 770
St John's University-New York 540 620 520 630
Nova Southeastern University 550 640 530 640
Georgetown University 680 760 670 760
Stanford University 690 760 700 780
Baylor University 600 680 590 680
University of Miami 620 700 610 720
Loyola University Chicago 570 660 550 650
Rochester Institute of Technology 590 680 600 700
University of Chicago 730 780 750 800
Duke University 670 750 710 790
Fordham University 620 700 610 710
Washington University in St Louis 720 770 750 800
Boston College 660 760 660 730
Saint Louis University 590 690 580 700
Emory University 670 740 680 780
Carnegie Mellon University 700 760 730 800
American University 610 690 570 660
Savannah College of Art and Design 530 630 500 600
Saint Leo University 430 520 480 600
Pace University-New York 530 620 510 600
Yale University 730 780 730 800
Webster University 530 648 510 605
Vanderbilt University 710 770 730 800
University of Notre Dame 680 750 690 770
Tulane University of Louisiana 670 740 660 750
Case Western Reserve University 650 740 690 780
Southern Methodist University 630 710 640 730
University of Rochester 640 720 660 770
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 720 770 770 800
Tufts University 700 760 710 780
University of Denver 590 680 570 670
Marquette University 570 660 560 650
Hofstra University 570 660 560 650
University of San Francisco 560 640 540 650
Villanova University 620 710 630 730
University of Dayton 550 650 550 660
Texas Christian University 570 660 560 670
The New School 570 660 530 650
Quinnipiac University 550 630 530 630
University of the Cumberlands 450 570 460 560
Brown University 705 780 700 790
Lindenwood University 380 520 480 610
California Baptist University 500 600 480 590
Azusa Pacific University 480 610 510 610
University of St Thomas 540 650 550 680
Seton Hall University 570 640 570 640
Loyola Marymount University 600 680 580 680
Regent University 500 610 430 580
Chapman University 600 680 590 680
Howard University 550 650 540 640
Duquesne University 570 640 550 630
University of San Diego 590 670 590 680
The University of Tampa 540 620 530 610
Creighton University 520 640 550 650
Mercer University 590 670 580 670
Santa Clara University 630 710 640 730
University of the Incarnate Word 480 570 460 550
LIU Post 530 620 525 620
Regis University 550 643 520 623
University of New England 520 610 510 600
Princeton University 710 780 720 790
Saint Joseph's University 560 640 550 650
Belmont University 590 670 550 640
Adelphi University 530 620 530 620
Indiana Institute of Technology 470 580 460 570
Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus 500 600 502 600
Pepperdine University 600 690 600 700
Maryville University of Saint Louis 485 615 498 650
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 640 730 680 770
Gonzaga University 590 670 590 680
New York Institute of Technology 510 610 520 620
Barry University 470 560 410 500
Seattle University 570 670 560 660
MCPHS University 520 620 520 650
Campbellsville University 460 553 470 540
Suffolk University 500 600 500 580
Illinois Institute of Technology 580 680 650 730
Southeastern University 490 600 460 570
Rice University 730 780 760 800
Lehigh University 620 700 650 730
University of New Haven 510 610 500 600
LIU Brooklyn 500 610 500 630
Stevens Institute of Technology 640 710 680 760
Elon University 580 670 560 660
Xavier University 540 620 520 620

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Note: All universities, both public and private were selected based on enrollment numbers. 

FINDING WHAT A GOOD SAT SCORE IS FOR YOUR SCHOOL 

To find the average SAT scores for schools you are interested in,  try searching on Google for:  your school choice freshman profile

For example, if you Google: University of Michigan freshmen profile, you will get the following results:

Search for SAT Scores

Clicking on the Student Profile link will lead to:

SAT Student Profile

which will show you the SAT score ranges (25th to 75th percentiles) for the incoming freshman class.

How Do I Improve My SAT Score if I am Unsatisfied with it?

We’ve taken the time to compile some key tips/tricks to improve your SAT score. Take a look:

Become familiar with the SAT

In other words, practice, practice, practice! Become comfortable with the types of questions they are going to ask as well as completing as many questions as you can under the time restraint. There are an overwhelming amount of resources, test preps, classes, and tutors specifically designed to raise your score- take advantage of them!

Re-take the test!

You have as many chances to take and re-take the test as you want, so do it! Many students gradually increase their score as the number of attempts increase and as you become more used to the test. If you don’t have the time to re-take the test and your score puts you at risk for acceptance into your top university, consider adding several “safety” schools.

You can super-score you score

Many universities allow you to super-score all you SAT’s which essentially means picking and choosing the highest scores from various attempts at the SAT. So, say your second attempt you had your highest math score and your first attempt you had the highest reading/writing score- you can combine them. All the more reason why taking the test multiple times is beneficial.

Use your time to the BEST of your ability

There will be trick questions and there will be questions you have absolutely no clue what the answer is. The great thing about the SAT? Wrong answers do not count against you! If you don’t know the answer, make an educated guess and move on. It does not serve in your best interest to waste 10 minutes on a question and then not be able to answer all the other questions in that section.

Go into the test fully prepared and well-rested

You are given short breaks in between sections- utilize them! Bring a snack, quickly decompress, and then get ready to dive back in. When you are well-rested and feel great before going into the exam, chances are that you will score better. This applies to your mentality too. If you go in unsure of yourself with poor confidence chances are you will doubt yourself and score lower.

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SAT Related Practice Tests

The following tests are related to the SAT exam:

ACT practice tests - for undergraduate college admissions.

GMAT practice tests - for entrance into MBA programs.

GRE practice tests - for graduate school admissions.

 

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