What should your SAT score be? What is a “good” SAT score? We have answers to these questions as well as our best advice for preparing for this famously challenging test.
What Is a Good SAT Score?
A high SAT score will improve your chances of getting into a specific college. Although there is no such thing as a “passing” score, you should try to surpass the median score. The SAT essay section is scored separately from the Math and EBRW sections.
What Is a Good Overall SAT Score?
The sum of your two section scores for Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) determines your overall SAT score, which ranges from 400 to 1600. Each of these sections uses a 10-point scale ranging from 200 to 800. Your percentile ranking increases as your score increases. This is the percentage of test-takers who scored the same as or higher than you (during that testing year). For eg, if your SAT score was in the 72nd percentile, it meant you performed better than 72 percent of test-takers (and worse than 28 percent ).
Although there is no hard and fast cutoff for what constitutes a successful SAT score, percentiles can be used to estimate how well you performed in comparison to other students across the country. Any score above the 50th percentile, or median, is considered good, as it indicates that you performed better than the majority of test-takers. And, Find out SAT Exam Preparation Plan to get a good score.
The percentile charts below indicate good overall SAT scores and also good scores in the Math and EBRW sections individually. It’s important to note that the percentile rankings for scores can vary slightly from year to year.
Total SAT Score
Total SAT Score (Math + EBRW)
Math + EBRW SAT Score
SAT Math Score
|SAT EBRW Score||
What Is a Good SAT Score for Schools You Want to Join?
While percentiles say a lot about how you performed on the SAT in comparison to other test-takers, they don’t tell you what score you must aim for to get into the schools you’re applying to.
Different colleges and universities have their own set of score requisites. Some highly selective programmes and schools have minimum admissions requirements. Although failing to meet an institution’s SAT score requirement does not guarantee rejection, it does not bode well for your admission chances.
To improve your chances of being admitted to your preferred schools, aim for a SAT score that is equal to or higher than the average admitted applicant at that school. To put it another way, if the average admitted the first-year student scored 1300 on the SAT, you should aim for that score.
Finding the middle 50% of SAT scores for what institution you’re applying to is the simplest way to find out what SAT score to aim for. The middle 50% of accepted first-year students falls between the 25th and 75th percentiles. Ideally, you can aim for a score in the 75th percentile of the school. If that’s too difficult, you can aim for a percentage higher than 25 Percentile.
On their official websites, several colleges publish SAT stats. Search up your school’s name and the phrase “SAT score range” on the web. Alternatively, search for an incoming college profile page or a facts and figures page on your college’s official website; this is also where colleges publish demographic information and data on newly admitted students.
Assume you’re submitting an application to Emory University. The middle 50% of SAT Math and EBRW scores of admitted students for the class of 2024 can be found on Emory’s class profile page. (You can use a combination of these to find the middle half of 1600.) You now know that you can aim for a score of about 760 on the EBRW section and 790 on the Math section, both of which are extremely high scores.
Depending on the colleges you’re considering, you can aim for a specific SAT ranking. Highly selective universities often prefer near-perfect SAT scores, while less selective universities consider applicants with SAT scores close to or below the national median.
The middle 50 percent SAT score ranges for students admitted in fall 2020 to 20 well-known U.S. colleges and universities are listed in the table below.
Class of 2024 SAT Scores for Admitted Students at 20 Popular Schools
|25th Percentile SAT Score||
75th Percentile SAT Score
|Indiana University Bloomington||1160||1370|
|Pennsylvania State University||1240||1410|
|University of California, Berkeley||1330||1530|
|University of California, Davis||1260||1470|
|University of Georgia||1310||1460|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||1290||1490|
|University of Maryland, College Park||1330||1490|
|University of Michigan||1380||1550|
|University of Minnesota Twin Cities||1300||1460|
|University of Pennsylvania||1470||1550|
|University of Southern California||1410||1540|
|University of Texas at Austin||1230||1480|
|University of Washington||1240||1440|
What Is a Good SAT Essay Score?
The SAT includes an optional essay in addition to the Math and EBRW sections. This section is only needed if at least one of your colleges needs the SAT essay. Note that the SAT with essay costs a little more ($68 vs. $52) than the SAT without essay.
The SAT essay is scored separately from the Math and EBRW sections and uses a different scale. You’ll have 50 minutes to write an essay examining the author’s claims and overall argument in a given passage for this section.
Two graders assign you a score on a scale of 1-4 in three categories for the SAT essay: reading, analysis, and writing. Your essay will be read by two graders. After that, each will give you a score on a scale of 1-4 in three different categories: reading, analysis, and writing. This means that each category’s total score ranges from 2 to 8. A perfect essay score is three 8s, which means a 4 in each of the three categories from both graders.
The SAT Essay isn’t required by most universities, and those that don’t always include information about average SAT scores for admitted students. The College Board also does not provide percentiles for the essay, only the mean (average) scores for each category.
In general, anything above these averages is considered a good SAT essay score. As a result, a 6 on Reading, a 4 on Analysis, and a 6 on Writing should be your aim.
Having official prep materials and focusing on your weaknesses are two useful SAT study tips.
Getting into college for many students is about more than just good grades and compelling personal statements — it’s also about high test scores as well. In the United States, the SAT is one of two major college entrance exams (the other is the ACT). Although you don’t need a certain score to pass the test, a higher score will increase your chances of getting into college.
However, not all colleges need SAT scores, so double-check with your target schools to see if they require or recommend taking the exam before you pay to take it. Also, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many universities have temporarily adopted test-optional policies, which means that SAT scores will not be needed for 2020-21 (and sometimes 2021-22) application period.