Whats a Good SAT Score?

September 26, 2021

What Is A Good SAT Score?

When you receive your SAT score report, you will see a number of sub-scores in the report. The following are the important numbers you need to look out for:

  1. Section Scores: Individual scores for the math and verbal sections. Both of these sections have a score range of 200-800.
  2. Composite Score: This score is a combination of two sections. The composite SAT score range is 400-1600.
  3. Percentile Scores: The percentile score is a comparison of your score with the other test-takers. The percentile score shows that your score is better than a given percentage of test-takers. This scoring range from -1 to 99+.

We use the percentile rankings to compare scores with other students. 

For example, if your percentile score is 89, this means you scored better than 89% of test-takers. 

So, What is an Average SAT Score

To know which SAT score is an above-average score, we need to see the percentile score chart below:

SAT Score range

In the above chart, we can see the 50th percentile score is 1050. It means 1050 is the average score of the 2020 SAT examination. Thus, an SAT score of 1050 is an average SAT score.

With composite scores, College Board also publishes percentile scores by sections.

SAT range and percentile

The 50th percentile score for the Math and Verbal sections is 520 and 530, respectively.

Now that we know what statistically average composite and sectional scores are. But what is a good SAT score for you? 

Good SAT Score For You:

An average or even a 90th percentile SAT score is often not good enough for most students. That is because the leading universities in the United States need atleast a 95th percentile SAT Score. 

For example, Northwestern Universities median SAT score was 1520 for last year’s admissions. You will have no chance for admission there if you send your above average SAT score of 1200. You need at least a 1500 to be relevant to admissions to Northwestern.

Therefore, a good SAT score for you is the score that falls in the range of all the universities that you are applying too.

To find the score, follow the below three steps we have outlined for you:

Step 1: Create A Sheet

Create a google sheet that will list all the colleges you want to apply to as well as their SAT score ranges. The sheet should consist of 7 columns:

  • College Name
  • 25th percentile & 75th percentile (composite)
  • 25th percentile & 75th percentile (Math) 
  • 25th percentile & 75th percentile (EBRW)

The sheet will look like the below image:


Sheet example

Step 2: Fill in the Relevant Information

To find SAT scores use Google: type "[college name] SAT score." Google will give you the information you need.

For example, I typed the keyword "Harvard SAT scores." In the search results, google displayed the 25th and 75th percentile of both EBRW and Math. 

Harvard SAT Scores


To find the composite scores, you can use another section in the google search result. The section which gives you the information about your query is the "people also ask" section. This section will provide you the information without clicking any links.


Harvard SAT Scores ss


If you couldn't find the scores on google, check college websites where they list this information (all of the colleges list their past SAT scores on their website).

Step 3: Calculate a Good SAT Score For You

Now all that is left to do is to figure out your target SAT score. 

To know your target SAT score, you need to look at the 75th percentile score column in your sheet. The highest 75th percentile score should be your target SAT score. You can consider this score as a good SAT score for you.

It would be best if you focus on the composite and section score both. Composite may help you aim for a good SAT score, but section scores have their unique importance.

It rarely happens that a student is good at both the sections equally. In most cases, students are better at one section compared to the other. By considering section scores, you can aim more at the section you can perform better. Like if you perform better at EBRW compared to Math. In this case, you can seek for EBRW more than the target SAT score. 

For example, If you are going to apply to Harvard University. The 75th percentile score for Math and EBRW in Harvard is 800 and 770, respectively. Here you can aim 800 for EBRW even if the 75th percentile is 770. So, even if you cannot score that great in Math but score above 770, you may get a better composite score.

After knowing the overall SAT score for you, let's check a good SAT score as per some colleges.

FInd out a Good SAT Score for you

Average SAT Scores for Leading Universities

Till now, it's clear to you that all the colleges are not the same, especially considering the SAT score. Some colleges are very competitive, and some are not so competitive. 

So, let's take at the SAT score ranges for the top 25 colleges as per the US News National Ranking:

SAT Scores for

As we can see in the table, the 75th percentile score of these 25 colleges is above 1500. It shows that all these colleges are very competitive. 

What If Your Score Does Not Match Up?

You have three options:

  1. Retake The Exam:

This is what most students do. Luckily, CollegeBoard does not restrict the number of SAT attempts a student can take. You can attempt the SAT exam as many times as you can. Although, at a time, only the six most recent scores will stay on file. 

When you retake the test, you get the opportunity to aim for your desired score once again. You can look back at what mistakes you've made while attempting it for the first time. It will help if you invest a significant amount of time for preparation before retaking the exam. It will help you to overcome your weaknesses.

Retaking exams can be even more beneficial if the college does superscoring. In superscoring, colleges consider the highest section score. For example, if you attempted the SAT exam twice. In one exam, you scored 400 in Maths and 600 in EBRW. In another exam, you scored 600 in Maths and 400 in EBRW. If the college has a superscoring system, it will take the highest section score from both exams. It means they will take your EBRW score as 600 from the first attempt and Math score as 600 from the second attempt. This gives you a superscore of 1200.

This system may benefit you a lot, especially if you cannot score what you aimed for the exam in a single attempt.

  1. Don't Worry Much If Your Score Is Very Close.

If you don't get the desired score, you have the option to retake the exam, but there's no need to worry if your score is close. A score closer to your aim is not at all a bad score.

You aimed for 1580, which is the highest 75th percentile, although you received 1550 in the SAT. However, 1550 is a very close score to what you aim for and is an average SAT score of your dream college. This average can also be enough for you to get admission to a college. 

  1. Focus On Other Colleges In The Sheet

If you couldn't score what you aimed for and don't have any time to retake the exam, focus on other colleges. When you were making the sheet, you probably didn't mention only one college. And if I'm correct, you can shift your focus to other colleges in your sheet.

As you aim for the highest 75th percentile, there will be many other scores lower than your desired score. If your score is above or close to these scores, then you should apply to these colleges. 

Conclusion:

If your score is above average (above 1050), you can consider it a good score than other test-takers. But it may not be enough to apply for a college, which says that a good score for you depends on your desired college. 

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