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!
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!
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:
- The basics of SAT total scores, subscores, and essay scores
- How the old SAT stacks up against the new SAT.
- What a good score on the SAT is, and how SAT scores stack up against ACT scores.
- 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:
So, the total new SAT score range (combining Reading/Writing and Math) is 400-1600.
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:
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.
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.
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.
1. Command of Evidence
2. Words in Context
1. Expression of Ideas
2. Standard English Conventions
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:
This gives us a total of 24.
However, the scores will NOT be added up, but will be presented as three scores:
So a possible SAT essay score might look something like this: 7 reading/5 analysis/6 writing.
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.
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:
|University||Old SAT Score Range||Projected New SAT Score Range|
|University of Pennsylvania||2050-2330||1440-1570|
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.