What is a Good SAT Score?

on June 29, 2017

What is considered a good SAT score depends on the colleges to which you are applying. The higher your SAT score, the greater your chances are of getting into a top college. But, even a perfect SAT score is no guarantee of admission at the most selective colleges.

 

The SAT has two sections, Math and Reading/Writing, each scored on a scale from 200 to 800. The two scores are combined into a composite score than ranges from 400 to 1600.

 

To get into one of the top 100 most selective colleges, you will generally need to have a composite SAT score of at least 1200, and preferably 1400 or more. Composite SAT scores of more than 1400 are in the top 5 percent of test takers.

 

A great SAT score is no guarantee of admission at these colleges, since admissions 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 colleges have Brainiac-level admissions test scores.

 

Cappex provides tools that you can use to get a sense as to your odds of admission to specific colleges. For example, the What Are My Chances Calculator compares your test scores and grades with those of previous applicants who did and did not get in. You can also see the 25th and 75th percentile test scores in each college’s Cappex profile in the admissions tab. This shows you the test scores of the middle half of students enrolled at the college, giving you a sense as to how you fit in.

 

Top test scores can lead to merit scholarships at some colleges. Some colleges 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 Scholarships.

 

The percentile ranking of your test scores against all test takers nationwide can show you how you compare to other college-bound students. The percentile is the percentage of test takers who got 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

 
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 score increment, the test takers tend to bunch up around the middle.

 

 
 
 

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