What Is A Good SAT Score?

student holding up her graded SAT paper. She's surrounded by different percentiles, indicating that the reader will have to read the article to find out what percentile a good score is!
Updated:
May 24, 2024
7 min read
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”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/24/24

Want to get the best SAT score possible? This guide will show you the way. 

  • An above-average SAT score is considered to be 1200 and above
  • A competitive SAT score can significantly increase your chances of admission to your dream school
  • Most prestigious schools have SAT score expectations of 1400 and above
  • Regardless, you should set your target SAT score within or higher than your school’s 50% range
  • Although more schools are becoming test-optional, a high SAT score can give your application a much-needed boost and make up for any shortcomings

As you begin your college search, you’ll likely have to take a standardized test and send your test scores to schools. The SAT is one of those tests. Despite popular test-optional policies, the SAT is still a relevant exam that can show admissions committees your academic prowess!You may be wondering, what’s a good SAT score? Competitive SAT scores ultimately depend on which schools you want to attend and how competitive the applicant pools for those schools are. Keep reading to learn about the SAT, how to get a competitive SAT score and more!

The SAT: Percentiles and Scores 

It’s important to understand how the SAT is scored to interpret your results! 

Your SAT score is the sum of your section scores. Each section uses a scale of 200-800 points in 10-point increments, so total scores range from 400 to 1600. You earn points based on the number of correct answers you get.

What Are the Sections on the SAT?

Here is a chart summarizing the content and format of each section of the SAT.

Section Number of Questions Time Limit (Minutes) Topics
Reading and Writing 54 64 (two 32-minute modules) Reading comprehension, analysis, context, argument deconstruction, Grammar, vocabulary usage, editing, finding the main idea
Math 44 70 (two 35-minute modules) Algebra I and II, problem-solving and data analysis, advanced math, geometry, trigonometry, complex numbers
Total 134 98 A comprehensive blend of all skills in previous sections

Source: College Board

Your SAT scores are typically available a few weeks after the test date. SAT scores must be reported from the College Board directly. When you sign up for an SAT date, you can register to send free score reports to a maximum of four target schools (and pay for extras). 

If you took the SAT a while before actually applying to college, you should check to make sure your SAT scores are still valid. Some colleges set an expiration date for SAT scores, so you may need to re-take the test. 

If you've completed the SAT exam and find yourself in need of an SAT to ACT score conversion, check out our automatic SAT to ACT score converter.

What is a Good SAT Score?

Although there isn't a universally agreed-upon definition of a "good" SAT score, we recommended aiming for a score of at least 1200+, which puts you in the 75th percentile of test-takers. Securing a strong SAT score can enhance your acceptance chances, so aim for an SAT score within or higher than your target college’s middle 50% range. 

Good SAT Scores for Popular Colleges in the U.S.

So, what is a good score on the SAT for selective programs? Here’s a chart for the top 24 schools in the U.S. and their SAT score statistics.

Rank School 25th Percentile SAT Score 75th Percentile SAT Score Acceptance Rate
1 Princeton University 1540 1580 5.80%
2 MIT 1520 1580 4.80%
3 Harvard University 1490 1580 3.59%
3 Stanford University 1500 1570 3.68%
5 Yale University 1370 1590 3.70%
6 University of Pennsylvania 1510 1569 5.80%
7 Caltech N/A N/A 3.10%

Rank School 25th Percentile SAT Score 75th Percentile SAT Score Acceptance Rate
7 Duke University 1510 1560 5.10%
9 Brown University 1470 1550 5.16%
9 Johns Hopkins University 1530 1560 ~6.20%
9 Northwestern University 1500 1560 ~7.50%
12 Columbia University 1500 1560 3.85%
12 Cornell University 1470 1550 7.00%
12 University of Chicago 1510 1560 4.77%

Rank School 25th Percentile SAT Score 75th Percentile SAT Score Acceptance Rate
15 UC Berkeley 1350 1570 16.4%
15 UCLA 1370 1570 12.4%
17 Rice University 1500 1560 7.51%
18 Dartmouth College 1480 1560 5.32%
18 Vanderbilt University 1480 1570 5.09%
20 University of Notre Dame 1410 1550 11.10%

Rank School 25th Percentile SAT Score 75th Percentile SAT Score Acceptance Rate
21 University of Michigan Ann Arbor 1350 1530 17.94%
22 Georgetown University 1440 1560 12.33%
22 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1350 1510 18.39%
24 Carnegie Mellon University 1490 1570 11.00%
24 Emory University 1470 1560 14.49%
24 University of
Virginia
1400 1540 16.38%
24 Washington University in St. Louis 1500 1570 11.44%

Below we’ll cover successful SAT score ranges for the Ivy league. 

What Is a Strong SAT Score For the Ivy League?

Using the numbers from the above chart, here’s an example of how you would calculate a great SAT score for the Ivy League. Say you want to apply to Harvard, Yale, and UPenn. Harvard’s middle 50% range is 1460-1580, Yale’s is 1470-1580, and UPenn’s is 1440-1560. So, it’s wise to aim for a score in the range of 1460-1580.

What’s considered a competitive SAT score for Ivy League schools depends on class profile data. However, you should aim to score toward the 75th percentile for the most competitive Ivy League school on your list. That way, you’ll have competitive SAT scores for all the schools you want to attend. 

What is the Highest SAT Score? 

The highest possible score you can achieve on the SAT is 1600. It’s certainly not easy to get a perfect SAT score, but with lots of studying and dedication, it is possible!

What is an Above-Average SAT Score?

The average SAT score is 1050, according to the College Board. Above-average SAT scores surpass 1200, and a score of 1350 or above puts you in the top 10% of test-takers. To be competitive at top schools, aim for a score of 650 or higher on each SAT section. 

Here’s a chart of SAT scores and their percentiles, meaning what percentage of test-takers got a specific score. 

Percentile Total Score EBRW Score Math Score
95% 1440 720 750
90% 1350 680 690
75% 1200 610 600
50% 1028 520 508
25% 870 440 420

Source: College Board

Average SAT scores can vary considerably by region. If you’re applying to colleges in a different state and want to compare yourself to the standard SAT scores in that location, check out these SAT scores by state.

Keep in mind that these numbers may vary slightly every year. 

How to Get a Good SAT Score

So, how do you get a great SAT score? If you haven’t already taken the SAT or you’re planning to retake it, these valuable tips can help you maximize your chances of success and ensure you’re ready for the SAT

  • In the reading section, be careful with multi-part questions. A wrong answer to one question may lead to wrong answers in subsequent parts. Ensure there’s evidence for your conclusion and not just an "easy" or obvious answer. 
  • Brush up on your vocab. To avoid confusion, study common SAT words so you can understand them on test day and can better tackle the reading questions.
  • In the math section, try to memorize the basic mathematical formulas. You don’t want to waste time flipping the test papers back and forth to reference the formulas.
  • Remember to bring an SAT-approved calculator. The College Board allows most graphing calculators, but there are some exceptions. You’re not allowed to use your phone as a calculator.

If you’re unhappy with your score, consider retaking the SAT. Invest the time to work on your weaknesses and take time to do SAT practice tests and questions

FAQs: What Makes a Good SAT Score?

Still have questions about your SAT scores? We’ve got you covered. 

1. What Is a High SAT Score? 

While it’s a good idea to aim for 1200, a successful SAT score is whatever score is competitive at your desired colleges. 

2. Is 1100 A Decent SAT Score? 

An SAT score of 1100 can get you into many schools. Below are some colleges that accept students with an 1100 SAT score.

School 25th Percentile SAT Score 75th Percentile SAT Score Acceptance Rate
Georgia State University 1050 1290 52%
University of Northern Iowa 980 1190 95%
Western Kentucky University 990 1160 97%
University of Hartford 1090 1300 83%

3. Is 1200 a High SAT Score?

The average score on the SAT is 1200. 1200 is a good score on the SAT and would put you in good standing at these colleges: 

School 25th Percentile SAT Score 75th Percentile SAT Score Acceptance Rate
University of Colorado Boulder 1170 1380 79%
Auburn University 1240 1370 44%
Michigan State University 1110 1320 88%
University of Tampa 1100 1260 26%
Washington State University 1020 1260 83%

4. Is 1300 a Good Score?

A score of 1300 means you have an above-average SAT score. 1300 is a great SAT score if you want to apply to any of these schools: 

School 25th Percentile SAT Score 75th Percentile SAT Score Acceptance Rate
Ohio State University 1000 1170 53%
Fordham University 1330 1460 54%
University of California, Davis 1160 1370 40%
Loyola Marymount University 1300 1460 41%
Florida State University 1340 1450 21.8%

5. Is 1400 a High SAT Score?

1400 is an excellent SAT score. You can get into many popular colleges with a 1400 SAT score. 

School 25th Percentile SAT Score 75th Percentile SAT Score Acceptance Rate
University of Michigan 1350 1530 18%
University of Texas at Austin 1230 1480 31%
George Washington University 1320 1460 49%
Villanova University 1350 1490 23%

A score of 1400 is great for the SAT. Remember, many colleges have adopted test-optional applications. A strong SAT score isn’t the only element that matters. If your test scores don’t reflect your academic potential, ensure your application shows off your strengths! 

6. What Is a Good SAT Essay Score? 

Previously, a good SAT Essay score would be a 5-6 in reading, writing, and analysis. However, the College Board has discontinued the optional SAT Essay

As of January 2021, the SAT Essay is only available in states that require it on SAT School Days. Contact your principal or school counselor to see if your school participates.

7. What Is the Best SAT Score? 

The best possible SAT score is 1600. 

8. Is a 1500 SAT Score Good for Harvard? 

Achieving a 1500 SAT score would put you in the middle 50% range of admitted students’ scores. A 1500 SAT score is good for Harvard, but a score closer to 1580 (the 75th percentile) will make you a more competitive applicant. 

Ready to Get a Great SAT Score? 

There’s no minimum number that can be considered a good SAT score. But if you want to attend a top-ranked school, aim for 1440-1570 to match the average applicant. 

Now you better understand how the SAT is formatted and how you can prepare. You should study regularly for the SAT because the more you practice, the easier it will be. Good luck! 

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