What Is a Good SAT Score?
What is considered a good SAT score depends on the colleges and universities that you are applying to. The higher your SAT score, the greater your chances are of getting into a top school. But even a perfect SAT score is no guarantee of admission at the most selective institutions.
The SAT has two sections, math and reading/writing, each scored on a scale from 200 to 800. To get into one of the top 100 most selective schools, you will generally need to have a composite SAT score of at least 1200, preferably 1400 or more. Composite SAT scores of more than 1400 are in the top five percent of test takers.
A great SAT score is no guarantee of admission at these schools, since admission decisions depend on more than just grades and test scores. Students do get in with lower test scores, but most of the students at these schools have high test scores.
Top test scores can lead to merit scholarships at some schools. Some colleges and universities award merit scholarships based on high school GPA and admissions test scores to recruit academically talented students. In fact, the PSAT is taken in October of the junior year in high school to qualify students for the National Merit Scholarship.
The percentile ranking of your test scores against all test takers nationwide can show you how you compare to other undergraduate-bound students. The percentile is the percentage of test takers who get lower test scores than you. For example, the median composite SAT score is 1083 (541 math, 543 verbal).
The median is the 50^{th} percentile, meaning that half of all test takers got lower scores and half got higher scores. If you get a composite SAT score of 1083 or more, you are above average. The 75^{th} percentile composite SAT test score is 1215, the 90^{th} percentile is 1340 and the 95^{th }percentile is 1410.
This table, which is based on College Board data, lists the percentile ranking for various composite SAT scores.
Composite Score (Out of 1600) |
Percentile Rank |
1600 |
>99 |
1550 |
>99 |
1510 |
99 |
1500 |
98 |
1450 |
97 |
1410 |
95 |
1400 |
94 |
1350 |
91 |
1340 |
90 |
1300 |
86 |
1250 |
80 |
1220 |
76 |
1200 |
72 |
1150 |
64 |
1130 |
60 |
1100 |
57 |
1080 |
50 |
1050 |
44 |
1030 |
40 |
1000 |
34 |
980 |
30 |
920 |
20 |
830 |
10 |
770 |
5 |
650 |
1 |
640 |
<1 |
400 |
<1 |
This table shows the percentile ranking of SAT test scores on the math and reading/writing sections.
Section Score (Out of 800) |
Math Percentile Rank |
Reading/Writing Percentile Rank |
800 |
>99 |
>99 |
750 |
97 |
99 |
700 |
92 |
94 |
680 |
89 |
91 |
650 |
86 |
84 |
600 |
73 |
69 |
590 |
70 |
66 |
560 |
60 |
56 |
550 |
57 |
52 |
530 |
49 |
45 |
510 |
40 |
38 |
500 |
34 |
35 |
490 |
30 |
31 |
460 |
21 |
22 |
450 |
18 |
20 |
410 |
10 |
11 |
400 |
8 |
9 |
380 |
5 |
6 |
300 |
1 |
<1 |
200 |
<1 |
<1 |
Lastly, the graph demonstrates that a 50 point increase in your test scores yields a bigger increase in your percentile ranking around the median than among the higher test scores. That’s because SAT scores form a normal distribution centered on the median. As shown in this graph, which shows the percentage of test takers in each 50 point increment, the test takers tend to bunch up around the middle.