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Thomas Broderick

What’s a Good SAT Score for Scholarships?

Happy fall, Magooshers! If you’re a current high school junior (or even senior), it’s time to start thinking about colleges. Even if you’re lucky enough to be receiving financial support from your family, they probably aren’t going to foot the whole bill for college. You’re probably wondering, What’s a good SAT score for scholarships, and how can I find them?


What’s a Good SAT Score for Scholarships?-Magoosh

Because the price of college = At least 1 fully restored DeLorean. And honestly, wouldn’t you rather spend your money on the DeLorean? 🙂 Photo by Kevin Abato.

There are many ways to earn scholarship $$$ (sports, extracurriculars, overcoming adversity, the list goes on), but this post is going to focus on how to secure scholarships through your standardized test scores – especially the SATs.

Now let’s take a look at how to turn your good SAT scores into some scholarship dollars…

So how good do my scores need to be?

Well…it depends. I know that may not be the answer you want to hear, but let me break it down for you.

First of all, many colleges around the country have what are called guaranteed scholarships. These scholarships are automatically awarded to accepted students who have earned a certain SAT score. The cool thing about them is that you don’t even have to fill out a separate application. When you’re researching colleges, keep your eyes open for what guaranteed scholarships are out there.

A larger number of colleges also have general merit scholarships. These scholarships have the same SAT requirements, but you are in competition with other accepted students for a limited number of awards. These scholarships may require a separate application, along with a personal or themed essay. In short, read those directions closely!

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You haven’t said a number yet!

I’m getting to that. Because every scholarship’s requirements are different, you have some work to do: get out there and find some scholarships!

Many colleges and universities have specific scholarships available for their current and incoming students, so if you have a list of schools you’re interested in, a simple Google search for your top college choices along with the search term “merit scholarships” is all you need.

Scholarships based on academic merit often have minimum SAT scores provided in their descriptions. Take note of any SAT score requirements you find during your research, then average all those scores. The result is your minimum SAT score goal.

Here’s a ballpark estimate, to give you an idea of what you’re dealing with: At private institutions, such as Baylor University, one scholarship awards approximately $41,000 per year with a minimum SAT score of 1390. At William Woods University, you could receive 4 years of full tuition, room, and board with a minimum SAT score of 1360. (There are other requirements for these scholarships beyond your minimum SAT score, so again: don’t forget to read those directions.) The amount of scholarship money available varies widely between schools, but if you’re looking at private colleges and universities, you’re likely to see these kinds of numbers.

There are also scholarships out there that aren’t affiliated any specific academic institute (the Burger King James W. McLamore WHOPPER Scholarship for example), so once you’ve exhausted your college list, try casting a wider net. Here are just some of the scholarships I discovered after a few minutes of online research:

Having a specific score in mind will help you focus your SAT prep, but don’t forget that this score is a minimum – ideally you want to be scoring a bit higher than this number on your practice tests (and the real thing, of course!).

Once you’ve got a strong SAT score under your belt, you can shift your focus to the scholarship applications themselves, and any essays and/or personal statements that may be lurking within.

Final Thoughts About a Good SAT Score for Scholarships

There are a lot of scholarships out there, and surprisingly enough, many of them have nothing to do with SAT scores. Like I mentioned at this beginning of this post, plenty of scholarships are based around other attributes such as overcoming adversity, your background, your summer job, or simply how well you write an essay. You probably have a lot more than just your SAT scores going for you, so you shouldn’t sell yourself short by only looking into merit scholarships – they’re just a good place to start!

Well, Magooshers, that’s all for now. Before you go any further, make sure to check out our article on the 3 Best Places to Look For College Scholarships. Happy scholarship hunting!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2016 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

P.S. Ready to get your highest SAT score? Start here.
About Thomas Broderick

Thomas spent four years teaching high school English, social studies, and ACT preparation in Middle Tennessee. Now living in Northern California, he is excited to share his knowledge and experience with Magoosh's readers. In his spare time Thomas enjoys writing short fiction and hiking in the Sonoma foothills.

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