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Chris Lele

SAT Score Range: What’s a Good SAT Score for Colleges?

The new SAT is scored on a range from a low of 400 to a max score of 1600, combined from a range of 200 to 800 on SAT Math and 200 to 800 on SAT Reading/Writing, but the SAT score range for students admitted to different colleges varies.

This post was updated in July 2017 to reflect the most recent data available. Below you’ll find an SAT score range chart of old SAT score ranges and new SAT score ranges for 100 top colleges and universities!
 
 
SAT Score Range
 
Okay, I’m just going to come out and say it: the new SAT scoring system is extremely confusing. There are subscores, cross-test scores, a science score and much more. And don’t even get me started on the new concordance tables (though started I’ll get, but later in the post!)

Because I don’t want you to be uncertain about something as important as your SAT scores, I’m here to dispel any confusion and answer your questions.

I’ll talk about all of the different scores: what they mean, SAT score ranges, what SAT scores you need for top colleges, and how everything ties together.

I’ll also let you in on a little secret: the SAT scoring tables comparing the old SAT and new SAT are a little wonky (but more on that later).

We’ve also put together this table of SAT score ranges for the top 100 universities in the United States.

This table gives the existing “old” SAT score ranges for these schools (the middle 50%), and we’ve converted them to new SAT score ranges so that if you are planning on submitting new SAT scores to colleges, you’ll have a sense of what you need to be aiming for.

    Keep in mind that we don’t yet have official data from schools about new SAT score ranges because no students have applied yet with new SAT scores. But this table should get you close enough to know whether or not you are in range for your dream school!

College SAT Score Range for 100 Top Universities


Expand the table by clicking on the entries box, or type the name of your chosen school in the search box to find the middle 50% score range for that college or university!

 

Top 100 Universities and CollegesPre-March 2016 SAT (25th to 75th Percentile Scores)New SAT (25th to 75th Percentile Scores)
Princeton University2100-23801400-1590
Harvard University2100-23501470-1580
Yale University2140-23901420-1590
Columbia University2090-23501450-1590
Stanford University2080-23601390-1580
University of ChicagoNot Reported1460-1550
Massachusetts Institute of Technology2120-23601470-1590
Duke University2100-23801400-1590
University of Pennsylvania2100-23801400-1590
California Institute of Technology2240-23401530-1570
Johns Hopkins University2130-23001480-1560
Dartmouth College2050-23501420-1580
Northwestern University1990-23001400-1560
Brown University2060-23501440-1590
Cornell UniversityNot Reported1310-1470
Vanderbilt University2110-23601420-1590
Washington University in St. LouisNot Reported1460-1570
Rice University2040-23801440-1590
University of Notre DameNot Reported1390-1530
University of California - Berkeley1950-23301300-1550
Emory University2030-22701330-1520
Georgetown UniversityNot Reported1380-1540
Carnegie Mellon University2050-23101460-1570
University of California - Los Angeles1720-21601230-1500
University of Southern California1950-22101380-1520
Tufts University2050-22801440-1550
Wake Forest UniversityTest Optional: 1860-2150Test Optional: 1320-1500
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor1960-22401390-1540
Boston College1900-21901340-1510
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill1770-21001260-1470
New York UniversityWriting Scores Not Reported: 1250-14801310-1510
University of Rochester1840-21501320-1510
Brandeis University1910-22001370-1520
College of William and Mary1870-21901320-1510
Georgia Institute of Technology1960-22301400-1530
University of California - Santa Barbara1810-20701220-1460
University of California - Irvine1580-19601150-1410
University of California - San Diego1820-22201300-1520
Boston University1830-21201300-1490
Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteWriting Scores Not Reported: 1280-14801340-1510
Tulane University1890-21401330-1480
University of California - Davis1570-19801140-1420
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign1880-21701380-1530
University of Wisconsin - MadisonWriting Scores Not Reported: 1210-14201280-1470
Lehigh UniversityWriting Scores Not Reported: 1230-14201300-1470
Northeastern University1960-22401400-1540
Pennsylvania State UniversityWriting Scores Not Reported: 1090-13001160-1360
University of Florida1760-20501260-1440
University of Miami1800-20701280-1460
Ohio State University - Columbus1720-20701250-1470
Pepperdine University1660-19801190-1410
University of Texas - Austin1690-20901210-1480
University of Washington1660-20301200-1440
Yeshiva University1620-20201160-1420
George Washington University1780-20901270-1460
University of Connecticut1700-19301220-1370
University of Maryland - College ParkWriting Scores Not Reported: 1210-14201280-1470
Worcester Polytechnic Institute1770-20601280-1460
Clemson UniversityWriting Scores Not Reported: 1150-13401220-1400
Purdue University - West Lafeyette1600-19601160-1400
Southern Methodist University1810-21001290-1470
Syracuse University1630-19301170-1370
University of Georgia1700-20001210-1410
Brigham Young University - Provo1720-20401230-1430
Fordham University1750-20501250-1440
University of Pittsburgh1760-20501260-1440
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities1760-21401270-1500
Texas A&M University - College Station1560-19301130-1380
Virginia Tech1630-19501170-1390
American University1720-20101220-1390
Baylor University1650-19401190-1380
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick1650-20101190-1430
Clark University1670-19801190-1390
Colorado School of Mines1810-20701310-1470
Indiana University - Bloomington1570-19101140-1370
Michigan State University1450-18401080-1340
Stevens Institute of TechnologyWriting Scores Not Reported: 1260-14601320-1480
University of Delaware1630-19401170-1360
University of Massachusetts- AmherstWriting Scores Not Reported: 1130-13301200-1390
Miami University - Oxford1670-20001210-1420
Texas Christian University1590-19301150-1360
University of California - Santa Cruz1580-19301150-1370
University of IowaWriting Scores Not Reported: 1020-13201100-1380
Marquette University1560-18901130-1340
University of Denver1630-18801170-1340
University of Tulsa1620-20601160-1450
Binghamton University -SUNY1810-20701300-1460
North Carolina State University - Raleigh1710-19801230-1410
Stony Brook University -SUNY1690-20301220-1440
SUNY College of Environmental Science and ForestryWriting Scores Not Reported: 1070-12601140-1320
University of Colorado - BoulderWriting Scores Not Reported: 1070-13101140-1370
University of San Diego1820-22201220-1490
University of Vermont1650-19501180-1370
Florida State University1680-19101200-1340
Saint Louis UniversityWriting Scores Not Reported: 1120-13301190-1390
University of Alabama1450-18201060-1290
Drexel UniversityWriting Scores Not Reported: 1080-13001150-1360
Loyola University Chicago1540-18801110-1330
University at Buffalo - SUNYWriting Scores Not Reported: 1070-12701140-1330
Auburn University1570-18701140-1330

Now let’s get into everything and anything relating to SAT scores and SAT score range. I’ll break it down to make things a little easier to follow. Here–in order–are the main points I’ll cover:

  1. The basics of SAT total scores, subscores, and essay scores
  2. How the old SAT stacks up against the new SAT.
  3. What a good score on the SAT is, and how SAT scores stack up against ACT scores.
  4. The old SAT score range and new SAT score range you’ll need for colleges, from the Ivy League to other competitive schools.

Total SAT Score Range

Okay, here are the basics:

  • Two sections, one math and one verbal (combined from the reading and writing sections)
  • Each is worth 800 points
  • The total on the new SAT is 1600 points
  • The lowest you can get on either the reading/writing or the math section is 200 and the highest SAT score on a section is 800.
  • So, the total new SAT score range (combining Reading/Writing and Math) is 400-1600.
     
     
    SAT Score Range Total and Reading/Writing and Math

    Average SAT Scores

    If you are with me so far, it’s time to talk about average SAT scores: the average score on each section is 500 points. The average overall SAT score is 1000. These are theoretical averages but the real averages tend to be within about 20 points, plus or minus, of 500 points.

    Now things are going to get a little more complicated. On the new SAT there are going to be three different types of scores. Yes, three. So hold onto your seats.

    1. Test Scores

    Okay, so the new SAT lumps the separate reading and writing sections into one 800 score. But the College Board still wants to still give colleges a better idea of how to understand your SAT scores: how you did on the reading section and how you did on the writing section.

    That makes sense, but for good measure, they figured they’d throw math in as a test score. So the three “test scores” are as follows:

  • Reading Test Score
  • Writing and Language Test Score
  • Math Test Score
  • Each one of these will be scored on a range of 10 to 40. This score will correspond to how many questions you missed on each section and is adapted to fit the score range. The two scores, one from the reading test and one from the writing test, will be combined to give you a verbal score on the 200-800 range. The math score on the 10-40 scale will be converted to a score from 200-800, which will be your math score. Add these together and you’ll have your overall SAT score.

    How important are these “test scores”? Speaking honestly, they just give people looking at your score report a way to compare your scores to students who took different versions of the SAT. This relates to an idea called equating, which allows the SAT to compare scores between different tests. But it’s pretty technical and the statistics folks over at College Board take care of this–you just have to look at your score.

    What is important for you–and what colleges will likely look at if they want to get a better sense of your performance–is how you did on the reading section and how you did on the writing sections. After all, you could do very poorly on reading yet thrive in writing and can get the same verbal score as somebody who was average on both sections.
     
     
    SAT Test Score Range for Individual Test Scores

    2. Cross-test scores

    So the new SAT doesn’t have a science section like the ACT does, but it does have what are called cross-test scores. Essentially, there are questions that are science related, whether they are in the math section, the reading section, or the writing section (hence the name “cross-test”).

    And there are also cross-test scores that are history/social studies related.

    Here’s how the College Board terms the cross-test sections:

    1. Analysis in History/Social Studies
    2. Analysis in Science

    Each score will be on the same scale as test scores: 10-40.

     
     
    Cross Test Score Range on the SAT

    3. Subscores

    The College Board wants to give college admissions officers as much information as possible. That gives us (I promise) our final set of scores. There are seven of these scores, the first two relate to reading comprehension, the next two relate to writing and the last three relate to math.

    Reading subscores

    1. Command of Evidence
    2. Words in Context

    Writing subscores

    1. Expression of Ideas
    2. Standard English Conventions

    Math subscores

    1. Heart of Algebra
    2. Problem Solving and Data Analysis
    3. Passport to Advanced Math

    Each of these subscores will be based on a 1 to 15 scale.

    SAT Essay Scores

    Last, and perhaps least (for those not taking the essay), we have three scores based on the 55-minute writing sample you’ll have to cough up after working on the test for three hours.

    Here’s what you need to know:

  • Two graders will be scoring your essay
  • Each grader will give your essay a score (1-4) for three different criteria
  • The three criteria are reading (how well do you understand the passage), analysis (how well do you describe how the writer is persuading his/her audience), and writing (how well do you write).
  • This gives us a total of 24.

    However, the scores will NOT be added up, but will be presented as three scores:

  • a 2-8 range for reading
  • a 2-8 range for analysis
  • a 2-8 range for writing.
  • So a possible SAT essay score might look something like this: 7 reading/5 analysis/6 writing.
     
     
    New SAT Essay Score Range

    What’s the deal with all these different SAT scores?

    Why oh why is the SAT even coming up with such a complex scoring system in the first place? My theory is that the SAT wants to give schools a lot better break down of your skill set. On the old SAT, there were just three section scores. Now, colleges that want to know the difference between two very similar candidates in terms of SAT scores can learn a lot more with the subscores and cross-test scores.

    At the same time, colleges don’t want to be inundated with all this information for each of the thousands of candidates they look at. That way they can start with the general score and if they want to dig deeper, they can look at these other scores.

    How do we compare new SAT scores to old SAT scores?

    The short answer is we can’t. The two tests are very different; a student who might have scored in the 95% on the old math section, might not even crack 80% on the new one, or vice versa.

    But, this isn’t very helpful to schools.

    So the long answer is that we have to be able to compare scores between old and new SAT candidates; otherwise we won’t have a way to compare students who took only the old test to those who took the new test. Without a table to show which score on the old SAT corresponds to which score on the new SAT, colleges wouldn’t have a real sense of how the new test stacks up to the old one.

    Though the tests are pretty different, one way to compare the two is by using SAT score percentiles. If 800 used to correspond to the top 1%, then the same should apply to the new test. (I’m just using a vague answer here). It’s actually a lot more complicated than this (some of the statistics involved is Ph.D level stuff). But I hope to give you a very loose sense of how it works.

     
    Looking into the future…

    I’m not psychic, wielding a crystal ball to make SAT predictions. But that is exactly–minus the crystal ball–what I’ll have to do. Luckily, we have the old SAT scores for universities. While this might seem so “last year”, I’d be surprised if schools end up choosing students with drastically different SAT scores–even though the test content has changed.

    Remember: the concordance tables are treating the two tests as roughly the same. While the subscores and cross test scores might change things up a little–and indeed some schools might be over the SAT, at least somewhat–using the old SAT score ranges for colleges will give you a pretty good sense of what you should be gunning for on the new test. And you can take a look at our SAT Score Range for Top 100 Universities chart above to see what old SAT score ranges would approximately look like as new SAT score ranges.

    PSAT Score Ranges

    Remember I told you how I was here to dispel confusion? Well, that’s very likely what we have around the PSAT, since there is no longer just one PSAT but three, depending on your grade level.

    The main PSAT, the one for sophomores and juniors, has two primary functions: to see if you qualify for the National Merit Program and to give you a sense of what your likely SAT score will be. Unless, you aim to score in the top 2%, you shouldn’t worry about the scholarship. You should, though, take your PSAT score seriously because it will let you know how much you’ll need to prep for the SAT to hit your target score.

    The big news is that a perfect PSAT score corresponds to a 1520 on the SAT. That’s right, because the PSAT is an easier test, it won’t–at the very high end–give you a sense of how well you’ll score on the SAT. But otherwise, your PSAT score–which ranges from 320-1520–will correspond to what you’d likely get on the SAT where you to take it right after the SAT (not as in the very same day, but you know what I mean).

    However, you can improve your performance on the actual SAT by prepping and practice; or, if you slack off, your SAT score might be lower than what your PSAT score would suggest.
     
     
    PSAT Score Range

    SAT and ACT Score Ranges

    SAT and ACT score ranges is about as dry a topic as they come. But there’s actually some serious drama behind this. The fact is that the ACT right now is pretty much fuming that the College Board decided to release an SAT to ACT score “translation” without consulting them (“hey College Board–why you no invite me to party?”)

    So the information I’m about to share is somewhat provisional; it might change if the ACT decides to release its own concordance tables (spoiler alert: the College Board won’t be invited). That said, for now, this is what colleges will most likely go on: ACT to New SAT to Old SAT Score Conversion Chart.

    As you can see from the tables on this score conversion chart, a perfect score on the ACT is a perfect score on the SAT. Though an ACT score of 35 works out to a 1540 on the SAT, remember that the ACT doesn’t have nearly as large of a score range as the SAT (36 increments from 1-36 vs. 120 increments for the SAT from 400-1600).

    What SAT score range do I need to get into the Ivy League?

    Everyone is always wondering about the Ivy League and SAT scores–which should come as no surprise. The Ivy League is highly competitive and SAT scores give admissions boards a chance to find out who the top of the top are (at least as far as test scores go).

    Below is table showing the middle 50% score range (meaning 25% of admitted students had lower scores and 25% had higher scores) for Ivy League schools:

    UniversityOld SAT Score RangeProjected New SAT Score Range
    Brown2000-23001410-1570
    Cornell1970-22701390-1550
    Columbia2090-23501460-1580
    Dartmouth2050-23401440-1580
    Harvard2130-24001480-1600
    University of Pennsylvania2050-23301440-1570
    Princeton2100-24001470-1600
    Yale2120-23901480-1600

    How to Improve Your SAT Score Range

    As I implied from the PSAT vs SAT bit above, your score has its own range–it’s not set in stone. Preparation is a huge factor, as is how well you perform on test day.

    The most important thing to do–and this goes for almost any point-based or time-based goal you want to set for yourself–is establish a baseline. What that means is you should take an official practice test before doing anything else (these are available for free at Khan Academy or in the Official Study Guide for a little bit more). This will give you what is called your baseline score–or the score you get when you haven’t started preparing yet.

    The goal is to increase that SAT score as you take subsequent practice tests. Brushing up on the fundamentals is the first order of business. Next, improve how well you test. Believe it or not, this is a skill, too. And those who are good test takers are often those who’ve developed this skill, and therefore get a good SAT score. What this means is you should learn how to pace yourself during an exam, how to remain calm when a question flusters you (often guess and move on is the best strategy), and how you can avoid careless mistakes in the future.

    Improving on these things will help boost your score. So next time you come to this post, when you look at the table above on SAT score ranges for top schools, you’ll be focusing on the higher end of the range and get the best SAT score you can get.

    Improve your SAT or ACT score, guaranteed. Start your 1 Week Free Trial of Magoosh SAT Prep or your 1 Week Free Trial of Magoosh ACT Prep today!

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    About Chris Lele

    Chris Lele is the GRE and SAT Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh Online Test Prep. In his time at Magoosh, he has inspired countless students across the globe, turning what is otherwise a daunting experience into an opportunity for learning, growth, and fun. Some of his students have even gone on to get near perfect scores. Chris is also very popular on the internet. His GRE channel on YouTube has over 8 million views.

    You can read Chris's awesome blog posts on the Magoosh GRE blog and High School blog!

    You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook!


    Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will approve and respond to comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! :) If your comment was not approved, it likely did not adhere to these guidelines. If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!


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