It’s been two years since Magoosh first started blogging about the SAT revamp, but the March 2016 test is still fairly new. The old SAT was scored out of 2400, but the new SAT is scored out of only 1600 now that the Reading and Writing sections have been combined. Seniors who graduated in 2017 are actually the first class where most people took the new SAT. There isn’t a ton of data about their scores yet, so everything we used to think of as a “good SAT score” has gone out the window.
Luckily, this post is here to guide you! Keep reading to find out what SAT score you should aim for on the most recent version of the test.
A good SAT score depends on where you want to go to college.
You don’t need to have a super-detailed spreadsheet of every single university in the United States and your chances of getting in. But you should have a rough idea of whether you want to go to the college half an hour from your house, or the ultra-prestigious school at the opposite end of the country. Pick a few schools: some that you’re fairly confident you’ll get into, and some that you’ll have to work hard to impress. If you don’t have any idea where to start, make an appointment with your guidance counselor to talk about what colleges are out there and what you should aim for.
Next, look up the school’s admissions data, either on their official website or through a website like BigFuture. Let’s use my alma mater, Case Western Reserve University, as an example. The average scores for incoming Case students in fall 2016 were 721 in Math and 664 in Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, making the average Composite SAT score 1385.
If your own score is in that neighborhood (plus or minus 50 points in each section), then you’re in pretty good shape for applying to Case. You can use this method to figure out a good SAT score to aim for, depending on which schools you’re interested in.
You can also use SAT percentiles to find a good SAT score to aim for. Scoring around the average percentile is usually a fine goal – unless your transcripts are really lacking. To give yourself the absolute best chance at acceptance, you should aim for a score in the 75th percentile.
SAT score not as good as you hoped? Time to schedule a retake.
If you didn’t make it anywhere close to your target score, you may want to consider retaking the SAT.
Plan to take the test a second time 3-6 months from now. Here are a few tips to prepare:
- Set aside a couple of study periods during the week where you focus only on test prep and nothing else.
- Learn what your weaknesses on the SAT are and talk with your teachers, tutors, or really smart friends about how to overcome them.
- Y’all also know that Magoosh has a huge bank of SAT practice questions too, right?
However, don’t get too obsessed over your SAT score. If you get a 1350 combined score on your retake, it probably isn’t worth taking the SAT again if you were aiming for a 1400.
Remember that your SAT score is just one piece in a complex process of college applications. Admissions offices will be looking at your G.P.A., extracurricular activities, recommendations, and essays along with your SAT score. A good SAT score is important, but you still have other things to focus on that will make your application as strong as possible.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October, 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.