What is a perfect score on the standardized SAT?

What is a perfect score on the standardized SAT

SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is a standardized entrance exam that high school students take to make admission decisions. The test is a multiple-choice, pencil-paper test created and administered by the College Board. It happens to be a key component for your college applications.

The SAT is taken to measure a high school student’s readiness for college and provide one common data point to the colleges to compare all the applicants that have applied.

However, this is not the only score that will be reviewed; along with the SAT score, they look at your GPA, the classes you took up in high school, letters of recommendation from your teachers, extracurricular activities, personal essays and lastly, the admissions interviews.  

The SAT consists of two sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. The SAT is a 3-hour exam with a total score of 1600 with a 200 – 800 point scale for each of the sections. The sum of your individual scores from each of the sections provides a cumulative score that will be looked at.

The highest possible SAT score you can achieve is 1600 with 800 in each of the sections. On the contrary, the minimum score one can get is 400.

Also Read: What is the SAT score required for Harvard?

However, this score would not be useful when applying to universities/colleges since it is too low of a score to be considered. The table below shows the different kinds of possibilities you can get with your score alongside a breakdown of both sections. 

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Math Maximum Cumulative 
Best 670-800 690-800 1600
Competitive 610-660 600-680 1340
Above Average 540-600 530-590 1190
Below Average 480 or Lower 490 or Lower 970

Getting the best SAT score between the range of 1360 – 1600 will put you in the top 10% of all SAT takers. Acquiring a competitive SAT score with a range of 1210 – 1340 will put you in a highly competitive place during admission as your score is in the top 25% of all SAT scores.

Having an above-average SAT score of 1070 – 1190 will put you at 50% but it won’t be advantageous when you apply to highly competitive programs. A below-average score of <970 may not get you into a wide variety of good graduate programs. 

Another detailed table below will you show which percentile exactly you will fall in your SAT composite score:

SAT Composite Score (out of 1600) Percentile
1600 99+
1550 99+
1500 98
1450 96
1400 94
1350 90
1300 86
1250 81
1200 74
1150 67
1100 59
1050 50
1000 41
950 33
900 25
850 18
800 11
750 6
700 3
650 1
600 and below -1

From this table you can see that the majority of the students score an average of 1050. So anything above that score would be above average and lower would be below average. However, while there is no particular standard for an SAT score, always aim to get 1200 or above. Meaning, a safe bet would be to get an SAT score in the 75th percentile which is a score in the range of 1200-1210. This is the minimum SAT score for renowned universities across the world.

Although to figure out what you should be aiming for, it is always best to see the average SAT score of an applicant in your desired school. That way, you would know what the colleges are expecting to see. 

You can strive for a higher SAT score for a few other reasons. One of them would be to get a Merit Scholarship. A few of the colleges and universities provide merit scholarships based on the student’s GPA and standardized test score to admit academically talented students. Some students take the PSAT, which is the precursor to the SAT in junior high so they can qualify for the National Merit Scholarship as well as give students a feel of standardized testing.   

To sum it up, the answer is quite simple. The perfect score for the SAT would be 1600 since it is the maximum score. However, any score of 1500 is considered to be a perfect score on SAT because then you would have scored >98% on the test. There are a lot of scores where reputable colleges’ minimum scores are lower than the perfect SAT score.

Therefore, it is not a necessity to attain that high of a score however, it is always better to aim for it since it could give you a shot at applying and getting admitted to ivy leagues alongside a few other factors.

Also Read: SAT Tips: Strategies for Excelling in the Scholastic Assessment Test

A 1600 score is achieved by only 300 people out of the 2 million+ test-takers thus making you eligible for any and all universities and colleges that you desire. A score of 1600 puts you in the 99th percentile meaning you score higher than 99% of the total number of people that take the test.

All in all, it’s always best to do some research on your desired college so you know what to aim for the SAT.

Good luck!

Further Reading: 


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