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.
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:
- Your school requires (or prefers) the SAT to that of the ACT.
- 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:
To calculate your scaled score for the evidence-based reading and writing is a tad bit more complex. Follow these steps:
- Count the number of answers you got correct (no penalty for wrong answers) for Section 1 (the reading test).
- Look in the raw score column for the reading test (above) and match it to the number in the reading section column.
- Do the same thing with Section 2 (the writing test).
- Add your reading and writing score together.
- 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
|SAT Composite Score Range||Percentile Score|
|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|
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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
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|
|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|
|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|
|St John's University-New York||540||620||520||630|
|Nova Southeastern University||550||640||530||640|
|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|
|Washington University in St Louis||720||770||750||800|
|Saint Louis University||590||690||580||700|
|Carnegie Mellon University||700||760||730||800|
|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|
|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|
|University of Denver||590||680||570||670|
|University of San Francisco||560||640||540||650|
|University of Dayton||550||650||550||660|
|Texas Christian University||570||660||560||670|
|The New School||570||660||530||650|
|University of the Cumberlands||450||570||460||560|
|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|
|University of San Diego||590||670||590||680|
|The University of Tampa||540||620||530||610|
|Santa Clara University||630||710||640||730|
|University of the Incarnate Word||480||570||460||550|
|University of New England||520||610||510||600|
|Saint Joseph's University||560||640||550||650|
|Indiana Institute of Technology||470||580||460||570|
|Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus||500||600||502||600|
|Maryville University of Saint Louis||485||615||498||650|
|Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||640||730||680||770|
|New York Institute of Technology||510||610||520||620|
|Illinois Institute of Technology||580||680||650||730|
|University of New Haven||510||610||500||600|
|Stevens Institute of Technology||640||710||680||760|
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:
Clicking on the Student Profile link will lead to:
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! Use our free SAT practice questions to become more familiar with the SAT.
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.
One great way to use your time better is to enroll in a SAT prep course. We reviewed the best SAT prep courses to help our users find the best fit for them.
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.