What's a Good SAT Score

What’s a Good SAT Score?

The College Board administers the SAT, which is a standardized test that is broadly recognized for admissions in the United States. It is a three-hour-long multiple-choice test with two sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing.

The total score for the SAT is 1600, with each section scored out of 800. Maybe you’ve taken the test recently and you want to know whether your SAT score is ‘good’ or not.

Or perhaps you’re yet to take the test and want to know what score to aim for. Either way, we’ve got you covered.  How do we determine what a good SAT score is? There are two ways we can figure that out: 

Discovering what a good SAT score is compared to all the students taking it up. 

In order to determine what a good SAT score is, we would have to compare it to the scores of the others taking it up in that particular year.

Stating the obvious, the higher your score is, the better your performance is compared to the rest. A percentile ranking helps us find out what percentage of students got the same score as you or better or worse.

For instance, if you scored 1450, then that means you scored 96% better than the other students who took up the same test. To check if you received a “good” score, you could also look at the average performance and compare it with yours.

The average SAT score is 1051. If we break it down by sections, we can see that the average score for math is 528 and evidence-based reading and writing is 523. There are very few students who are at the bottom or top of the percentile ranking. 

The percentile ranking for the year 2019 is shown in the table below: 

SAT 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 lesser 1-

If you were to assess what category your score falls under from this table, anything above the average score (1051) would put you above average. If you were to receive a score above 1250, it puts you among the top fifth, which is the 81st percentile.

To be in the top 10%, you would have to score 1350. A score of 1400 and above places you in the top 6% and lastly, 1500 and above puts you in the top 1-2%. And that is absolutely impressive! On the contrary, you would be placed below average if you scored below 1050.

Whereas, a score below 900 would put you in the 25th percentile. Comparatively, if your score lands in this area, it would not be considered ‘good’. If you were to compare scores by the sections, the performance in both math and evidence-based reading and writing are mostly similar, with a few differences.

This can be seen in the table below: 

SAT Score (Out of 800) Math Percentile (2019) EBRW Percentile (2019)
800 99+ 99+
750 96 98
700 91 94
650 84 86
600 75 75
550 61 57
500 42 40
450 27 24
400 15 11
350 5 3
300 1 1-
250 and below 1- 1-

If you have already taken the SAT, use the tables above to compare your performance with the rest of the students and see where your score lies to determine whether it is ‘good’ or not. 

Also Read: 7 Tips to get a 7 in IB Maths AA HL

Discovering what a good SAT score is based on your needs

Now that we have looked at your score in comparison to the scores of other test-takers, let’s see what a good score is for you. This matters more, because every students’ needs vary, and comparing your score to the others may not be an efficient way of categorizing your score into the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ section. 

If you are looking to get into the extremely competitive colleges, your SAT score needs to be a lot higher as they are highly selective when it comes to applicants.

Now, if you are aiming to go to an ivy league, being in the top 1 percentile (1500+) may just give you that extra push.

However, not every student is trying to apply to highly competitive universities. Second and third-tier universities do not have a high requirement for the SAT score.

So for those with a score below 1350, there are plenty of options left! Another important note: the higher your SAT score is, the higher your chance will be of receiving scholarships. Not only from universities, but also from College Board.

To reduce the financial burden on students, College Board provides a scholarship opportunity that gives each student who participates a chance to earn up to $40,000. 

 What if I haven’t reached my desired SAT score? 

  • Retaking the SAT can be highly beneficial to some as it can boost their score, allow them to win scholarships, improve their reading, writing, and quantiviate skills. However, it may not be the right choice for the others.
  • Focus on the other components of your application: The application process is holistic. The SAT is not the only factor that comes into play when getting admitted to a university. As long as the other components are strong and you show interest in applying to that particular university, your SAT score should not matter too much. With the academic pressure and extracurriculars in your life right now, adding on the SAT retake could contribute to your stress and can pull you down overall. 
  • Make some changes to the list of universities you plan on applying to. Match your schools to your current score and remove the ones that demand a higher score. 

Overall, what is a good SAT score? Ultimately, it only depends on you. So, if you didn’t get a higher score than your peers, it doesn’t matter. As long as your score gets you into your university of preference, you have nothing to worry about!

Further Reading:


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