You took your college entrance exams a few weeks ago and your SAT score has finally come back. Anxious and excited, you hop online to see how you did. You know that a good test score is key to getting into your dream school and scoring college scholarships, which makes this moment all the more nerve-wracking.
But wait a sec—what is a good SAT score, anyway?
The answer mostly comes down to how much scholarship money you want (answer: all of it, duh) and which schools you’re considering. To help you figure out how to react to your score, here’s a few things that may help you put your SAT score into perspective.
How Are SAT Scores Calculated?
To understand whether a SAT score is good or not, you first need to know how they’re calculated.
The scoring range for SAT scores is 400 to 1600, with 400 being the lowest you can score and 1600 being the highest. There are two scoring sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EWR) and Math. Each section can be scored from 200 to 800, and the sum of both scores is known as your composite SAT score.
So, let’s say that you scored 650 on Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and 700 on Math. You’d have a composite SAT score of 1350.
Note that this is the scoring range for the SAT only. While the PSAT has a similar format as the SAT, it has a different scoring range.
(Want to learn more about the PSAT? Find out when to take the PSAT from the Tallo blog.)
Average SAT Scores
Let’s continue to run with 1350 as an example SAT score. Is this considered a good score or not?
If you’re judging your score based on average SAT scores, then, yes — 1350 is a good score! According to data from The College Board, the average SAT score in 2019 was 1059 (ERW: 531; Math: 528). The year before that, the average SAT score was 1068.
In your online score report, it should list the average SAT score earned by your fellow U.S. test-takers. It should also have color-coded indicators that let you see if your score meets or exceeds the benchmark for your grade level.
SAT Score Percentile Ranks
National percentiles are another useful way of figuring out what a good SAT score is. Percentiles show you where your score stacks up in relation to other students. They range from 1 to 99 and represent the percentage of scores that are equal or below your score.
For example, if your percentile is 65 percent, that means your SAT score is as high or higher than 65 percent of students who took the test.
Percentiles are important because they can be a huge help in figuring out how you performed against other students who are trying to get into the same school as you. If you’re in the lower percentile, you can set a new goal and retake the test to potentially increase your chances of admission.
What Is a Good SAT Score for Getting into College?
If you can get a score anywhere above the average SAT score, there’s a good chance that you can get into a variety of universities and colleges. However, keep in mind that SAT scores aren’t the only thing that colleges take into consideration for admission. Colleges and universities often take a student’s GPA, extracurriculars, charity work, and statements of recommendation into account as well.
In other words, don’t get too discouraged if your score isn’t where you’d like it to be. You may still have a shot at getting into your dream school.
What Is a Good SAT Score for College Scholarships?
Scoring anywhere between 1200 and 1600 on the SAT is generally considered a good score for earning merit-based scholarships. The higher your score, the more scholarship money you can potentially win. But if you didn’t ace the SAT, don’t count yourself out just yet―many funding opportunities, including the easy no essay scholarships we at Tallo give out every month, don’t require you to list your SAT score to earn scholarship dough. In other words: apply, apply, apply!
Also, keep in mind that if you’re a high school junior taking the PSAT, getting a high score can put you in the running for the National Merit Scholarship. While the exact PSAT score you need to qualify varies from year to year and by state, those who qualify as a semifinalist are always in the top one percent of students.
A good SAT score varies from person to person. If you didn’t score as high as your peers on the SAT, your score may still be good enough to meet a school’s admission requirements. Regardless of how you scored on your SAT, you should focus your efforts on boosting your GPA and getting a few amazing letters of recommendation. By focusing on the entire package, you can maximize your chances of getting into your dream school. Good luck!