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What Is a Good SAT Score?

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 50th 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 75th percentile composite SAT test score is 1215, the 90th percentile is 1340 and the 95th 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.

sat chart

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