What Is a Good SAT Score?

Wondering what is a good SAT score? Learn about average SAT scores, good SAT scores, and the best SAT score.

Updated by TCM Staff on 22nd August 2021

Owned by the College Board, the SAT is usually a vital part of the college process. 

 

College admissions in the United States are standardized with the help of the SAT. The test was first called the Scholastic Aptitude Test in 1926, and then changed to Scholastic Assessment Test, SAT I: Reasoning Test, SAT Reasoning Test, and finally, SAT. Just in 2019, over 2.2 million students took the SAT. 

 

One question you might have when preparing for the SAT is, “what is a good SAT score?”

Good SAT scores depend on many factors. You need to weigh the admission requirements of colleges you’re interested in, and look at average SAT scores to help you assess a good score.  

Moreover, you need to consider median SAT scores for a college’s accepted applicants. The median SAT score reveals where the middle 50% of admitted students scored. And, you don’t need the absolute best SAT score to get into your college of choice. 

However, a rough score of 1400 can probably score you admission to any college or university in the country.

Related: What is the SAT?

What Is a Good SAT Score in 2021?

A good SAT score is generally one that ranks you in the top half of all candidates that took the test. 

Total

Percentile

Math

EBRW

1510 and above

(Best)

99th

790 and above

750 and above

1340

90th

680-690

670

1200-1210

(Good)

75th

600

610

1050-1060

(Average)

50th

520

530

910

25th

450

460

800

10th

380-390

400

680 and below

(Least)

1st

310 and below

330 and below

Also, read SAT Percentile

How Is the SAT Scored?

The evaluating procedure starts with your raw scores — the number of questions you answered correctly in each section. For example, if the math section has 58 questions and you answer them all correctly, your raw score for the math section is 58.  

Next, your raw score gets converted to a scaled score. A raw score of 58/58 changes to a scaled Math score out of 800 (in this case, a perfect score would be 800). 57 changes to a 790, etc., down the line.

Graders include your Reading and Writing raw scores (each extending from 1 to 40) together. If you got each EBRW question right, you would get a raw score of 80, which changes to a scaled score of 800.

To wrap things up, your scaled Math and EBRW scores are added to accomplish your total composite score out of 1600. The SAT does not deduct points for wrong answers, so you should try answering every single one, you have nothing to lose! 

Here’s an SAT score distribution chart, which better demonstrates how composite scores are converted into SAT percentiles.

SAT Composite Score 

SAT Percentile 

1600

99+

1550

99+

1500

98

1450

96

1400

94

1350

91

1300

86

1250

81

1200

74

1150

67

1100

58

1050

49

1000

40

950

31

900

23

850

16

800

10

750

5

700

2

650

1

600 and below

1-

Here’s the SAT score distribution chart for Math and EBRW sections:

SAT Score

EBRW Percentile 

Math Percentile 

800

99+

99+

750

99

96

700

94

92

650

86

84

600

73

75

550

56

61

500

39

41

450

23

26

400

10

13

350

2

4

300

1-

1

250 and below

1-

1-

Note - SAT section scores (Math and EBRW) are calculated out of 800 for each section. The cumulative scores of the sections give a total SAT score (scored out of 1600).

Related: How is the SAT Scored?

What Is the SAT Score Average?

The table below displays the average sat score for both the subscores as well as the total sat score out of 800 and 1600 respectively.

Total SAT score

1060

1600

SAT exam sections

Average Marks

Total Marks

Mathematics

523

800

Evidence-based reading and writing.

528

800


If your score is above the averages listed above, that’s good. That means you did better than half of the rest of the students who took the test.  

However, having just above-average marks may not be good enough for the most selective schools and colleges. If you have a score that’s well above the average, that will increase your chances of attending a good college, school, or university.

  • There are still a few colleges that value a strong academic record enough to balance a below-average SAT score with good academic records.


But, good SAT scores can get you a scholarship.
Many schools offer Merit Scholarships to students who get a good SAT score.

How to Achieve Good SAT Scores 

The maximum score of the SAT is 1600. Out of millions of students who appear for the test, usually only 300 get the highest scores. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you ace your SAT.

Step 1- Attempt Every Question 

Try to answer every question on the SAT. There is no penalty for wrong answers, so you might as well try your luck, even on the ones you’re stumped on. 

Step 2- Practice Makes Perfect

Consider taking a timed, full-length practice test as part of your preparation. If you score poorly, don’t worry. That’s why it’s called a practice test.  

Step 3- Hustle

Keep motivating yourself. Study a little bit each day and keep moving. 

Step 4- Research 

Once you’ve graded your practice test, research areas that you scored poorly on. Try to discover which ones the College Board considers easy, medium, and hard. Once you know the “easy” topics you missed, focus on them alone during your test-prep sessions.  They are the “low hanging fruit” that should deliver the biggest score improvement for your time investment. Then, move on to the medium and hard questions. 

Step 5- Use Reputable Study Materials

Avoid low-quality and third-party materials when you prepare. Use the College Board as your main source of information. 

How Many Times Can You Write the SAT?

The College Board is more than happy to let you attempt the tests any number of times you’d like.  Only your 6 most recent scores will stay on your file. 

What Is Score Choice?

Some colleges permit Score Choice, which allows students to submit their best SAT scores rather than their most recent scores. Score Choice removes a lot of anxiety that people feel about the SAT 

Some colleges do not permit the Score Choice option; so, it’s important to research your universities of choice to learn their policies about score choice.  

If you want to keep your scores high, you can take up training sessions. But, if you are trying your luck by attempting one exam after the other, you might end up losing your time and money. So decide on the number of times, you’ll be attempting the test along with other competitive exams like the ACT.

The first attempt can be a trial to know about the question patterns and effective time management. After further training, you can improve your performance upon each new attempt.

Read More - SAT Dates

How Good is Your SAT Score Compared to Others?

The SAT score can be considered good when it’s either above-average or it satisfies the requirement of the school or college you are considering. Having above-average marks or suppose having secured 1350 or more marks puts you in the 91 percentile category, which means you scored better than 90% of students appearing for the same test. 

These marks are good enough for a lot of prominent schools, colleges, and universities. Though a few selective schools may demand more marks but have just above average marks are good enough for a variety of colleges.

A "perfect" SAT score or the highest possible score on the examination is 1600 points. The present average SAT score is 1060.

A "good" SAT score depends on the colleges and universities you're considering. A score of 1200 at the SAT is a reasonably good score above the present national average at the 76th percentile and can make you a strong applicant at several universities, but it's going to fall below the average score for accepted students at more selective colleges. 

Source: Quickmeme

SAT Scores (2021) for Top 10 Colleges

We have prepared a list of SAT score ranges with the 25th and 75th percentile, for the top 10 schools in the US.

Rank

School

25th Percentile

75th Percentile

1

Princeton

1440

1570

2

Harvard

1460

1580

3

Columbia

1450

1560

4

MIT

1500

1570

4

Yale

1470

1560

6

Stanford

1440

1550

6

UChicago

1470

1570

6

University of Pennsylvania

1440

1560

9

CalTech

1530

1570

9

John Hopkins University

1450

1560

9

Northwestern

1450

1540

SAT Scores (2021) for Top 10 Liberal Arts Colleges

We have listed the 25th-75th percentile score range for the top 10 Liberal Arts colleges in the US.

Rank

College

25th-75th percentile

Score range

1

Williams

1410-1550

2

Amherst

1420-1530

3

Swarthmore

1380-1550

4

Pomona

1430-1530

4

Wellesley

1350-1520

6

Bowdoin

1300-1510

6

Claremont Mckenna

1350-1500

6

United States Naval Academy

1150-1370

9

Carleton

1380-1520

9

Hamilton College

1350-1510

9

Middlebury

1360-1530

9

Washington and Lee

1350-1490

 

What Happens if You Have a Low SAT Score?

A low SAT score can make you anxious and dampen your spirits during the application process. However, there are many options for students with low SAT scores. Many top-ranking schools do not require an exquisite score for admittance. Make sure you polish and prepare for these other areas of your application to impress the college admissions teams:

  • Personal Statement
  • Interview
  • GPA
  • Extracurriculars
  • Letters of Recommendation

 

Is the SAT Optional For Some Schools?

Some schools, like Boston College, do not require an SAT or ACT score from applicants. Test-optional admissions policies became more popular in the last year or two because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts recommend that you still take the SAT, even if your college has a test-optional policy. It strengthens your application and gives the admissions a better understanding of your academic capability. 

What Is a Good SAT Score for Test-Optional Schools?

Check out the average SAT scores of accepted applicants to a particular college. You can usually find this information on the university’s admissions page. You should aim for a score that is higher than the average score of accepted applicants. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do All Colleges Require SAT Scores?

Most four-year colleges require SAT scores from applicants. However, there are some four-year colleges and open-admission colleges that don’t require SAT scores. Additionally, many schools have temporarily paused their requirement for SAT scores from applicants because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if a college doesn’t require SAT scores, you should consider taking the SAT to qualify you for more scholarships and grants.  

 

Is the SAT Score the Most Important Part of a College Application?

No, but it is important. While college admissions teams do weigh SAT scores in student applications, they also weigh other factors. Different colleges also weigh scores in different ways. Letters of recommendation, GPA, extracurriculars, and even personal statements all factor into a college admissions team’s decision. If your SAT score was less than stellar, you still have a shot at getting into your college of choice if the rest of your application is strong. 

 

How Early Should I Start Prepping for the SAT?

You should start preparing for the SAT ideally a few months in advance. Also, consider the extra time it would take if you wanted to take the SAT more than once. 

 

The Takeaway

A good SAT score is different for every person and college. Start by looking at the median score (50th percentile) as a base. Then, look at SAT averages from accepted applicants to your schools of choice. 

Ultimately, you don’t need the best SAT score to get into college. But, a good SAT score does get you into your colleges of choice. Prepare early, take practice tests, and research your colleges’ policies on minimum score requirements, and score choice. 

Also read: When do SAT scores come out?


Related Articles

What is the SAT?- The Complete Guide

What is the SAT?- The Complete Guide

What is the SAT? It is standard test for college admission process and scores mostly determine your selectivity. Learn more about this exam, How is it...

What is GPA and Why it is Important?

What is GPA and Why it is Important?

GPA is a measurement of your academic success in high school that colleges will consider very strongly in the admissions process. This blog details on...

What is the Highest GPA?

What is the Highest GPA?

GPA plays an important role in college admission. Learn what is the highest GPA, is 4.0 a good GPA, how to maintain it a high GPA, and more...

ACT vs SAT - Which Test Is Right For You?

ACT vs SAT - Which Test Is Right For You?

Confused between ACT and SAT? Here are the key difference between ACT and SAT Test to help you in choosing the right test. Along with a few points on ...

Highest ACT Score Possible- Your ACT Score Guide

Highest ACT Score Possible- Your ACT Score Guide

Wondering what could be the highest ACT Score that one could get? Learn more about the highest Score on ACT, colleges that accept the top score, how t...