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Chris Lele

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

Are you wondering if your SAT scores are good enough for your dream school? In this post, we’ll help you figure out the SAT scores you should aim for, the SAT score range you need for top colleges, and answer your frequently asked questions about the SAT score scale. As a bonus, our quick diagnostic quiz will help you predict your SAT scores.

SAT Score Range: What Are Good SAT Scores for Colleges?-magoosh

Table of Contents

What Is a Good SAT Score?

  • A good SAT score range in senior year is 1200-1400+ (out of 1600 points).
  • For juniors, a good SAT score is around 1400.
  • Freshmen and sophomores should take the PSAT over the SAT. However, a good SAT score range for freshmen is 1200+, and 1300+ for sophomores.

You can get a more detailed breakdown in the video below:

SAT Score Scale: The Basics

  • You’ll receive two sectional scores, one Math and one Verbal (combined from the Reading and Writing sections).
  • Your Math and Reading/Writing sectional scores add up to a composite (combined) score. The highest composite score you can earn on the SAT is 1600 points.
    • Composite SAT score range: 400-1600 points
    • The average composite score is 1000 points.
       

Good SAT Scores for Freshmen and Sophomores

We highly recommend that you take the PSAT rather than the SAT if you are a sophomore or a freshman. You don’t have to include the score on your college apps, and it puts you in the running for National Merit Scholarships!

Colleges don’t give preferential treatment to those who take the SAT at a younger age. You can take the SAT as a freshman, get a 1200, and then never take the SAT again. That 1200 actually isn’t any different from a senior’s 1200. Yet, given that at least on average, students become more intellectually mature in an extra year of schooling—vocabularies enlarge, a sense of proper grammar becomes more fine-tuned, the ability to concentrate increases slightly—a senior might expect to see a 50-point increase in an SAT score. That might not seem like much, but going from a 1450 to a 1500 does look like a big deal on paper.

With that said, if you take a good SAT practice test before your junior year…1300+ is a great score for a sophomore, while 1200+ is a fantastic score for a freshman. But that’s only if you’re willing to continue to put in work on the SAT as you progress through your coursework! Otherwise, you’re more than likely to see your score stagnate pretty seriously.

Good SAT Scores for Juniors

You may be wondering whether you should take the SAT as a junior, or wait until senior year. Provided that you continue to pay attention in school and you continue to do some SAT prep in your spare time, you will probably do a little bit better as a senior, but not by too much.

A good SAT score for a junior, therefore, is about 50 points less than what a good SAT score is for a senior. If you are a junior and you have enough time to study, then getting close to 1400 is a good score.

Good SAT Scores for Seniors

A good SAT score for a senior really depends on the schools you are applying to, your current GPA, and a host of other factors, such as your essay or extracurricular activities. 1200 is a pretty good score; 1300 is clearly a good score and 1400+ is a great score.

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Good SAT Scores for College Admissions - magoosh

What Is a Good SAT Score Range for Colleges?

Now that you know the general SAT score range to aim for, let’s take a closer look at good SAT scores for your dream school. Just to make things a little easier on you, we’ve put together this table of SAT score ranges for the top universities in the United States. The numbers are from the middle 50% score range (meaning 25% of admitted students had lower scores and 25% had higher scores).

Expand the table by or type the name of your chosen school in the search box to find its the middle 50% SAT score range!

Universities and CollegesSAT (25th to 75th Percentile Scores)
Princeton University1430-1570
Harvard University1480-1560
Yale University1420-1590
Columbia University1490-1590
Stanford University1510-1580
University of Chicago1490-1560
Massachusetts Institute of Technology1510-1580
Duke University1490-1560
University of Pennsylvania1420-1550
California Institute of Technology1530-1590
Johns Hopkins University1460-1580
Dartmouth College1420-1560
Northwestern University1420-1560
Brown University1405-1570
Cornell University1390-1550
Vanderbilt University1400-1550
Washington University in St. Louis1470-1570
Rice University1450-1560
University of Notre Dame1370-1520
University of California - Berkeley1290-1510
Emory University1430-1550
Georgetown University1380-1470
Carnegie Mellon University1330-1510
University of California - Los Angeles1240-1490
University of Southern California1300-1500
Tufts University1410-1550
Wake Forest UniversityTest Optional: 1320-1500
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor1380-1540
Boston College1340-1480
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill1280-1470
New York University1350-1530
University of Rochester1280-1490
Brandeis University1340-1510
College of William and Mary1310-1490
Georgia Institute of Technology1360-1490
University of California - Santa Barbara1290-1500
University of California - Irvine1195 - 1435
University of California - San Diego1300-1520
Boston University1420-1530
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute1320-1500
Tulane University1410-1510
University of California - Davis1260-1480
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign1270-1480
University of Wisconsin - Madison1280-1450
Lehigh University1330-1500
Northeastern University1360-1540
Pennsylvania State University1250-1430
University of Florida1330-1460
University of Miami1220-1410
Ohio State University - Columbus1240-1450
Pepperdine University1190-1390
University of Texas - Austin1170-1410
University of Washington1250-1430
Yeshiva University1140-1400
George Washington University1280-1460
University of Connecticut1130-1340
University of Maryland - College Park1330-1470
Worcester Polytechnic Institute1300-1460
Clemson University1220-1390
Purdue University - West Lafeyette1190-1390
Southern Methodist University1280-1460
Syracuse University1180-1370
University of Georgia1300-1460
Brigham Young University - Provo1190-1420
Fordham University1310-1450
University of Pittsburgh1270-1430
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities1310-1460
Texas A&M University - College Station1140-1360
Virginia Tech1100-1320
American University1220-1380
Baylor University1190-1360
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick1190-1410
Clark University1200-1390
Colorado School of Mines1290-1450
Indiana University - Bloomington1150-1360
Michigan State University1110-1250
Stevens Institute of Technology1330-1480
University of Delaware1180-1350
University of Massachusetts- Amherst1200-1390
Miami University - Oxford1200-1380
Texas Christian University1150-1340
University of California - Santa Cruz1170-1400
University of Iowa1120-1330
Marquette University1150-1320
University of Denver1170-1370
University of Tulsa1150-1440
Binghamton University -SUNY1290-1430
North Carolina State University - Raleigh1250-1390
Stony Brook University -SUNY1220-1440
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry1150-1300
University of Colorado - Boulder1150-1360
University of San Diego1190-1490
University of Vermont1180-1360
Florida State University1200-1350
Saint Louis University1170-1390
University of Alabama1060-1280
Drexel University1170-1380
Loyola University Chicago1120-1310
University at Buffalo - SUNY1140-1310
Auburn University1150-1310

Good SAT Scores for the Ivy League

We’ve also put together a table showing the middle 50% SAT score range for Ivy League schools.

UniversitySAT Score Range (25th-75th percentiles)
Brown1405-1570
Cornell1480-1570
Columbia1490-1580
Dartmouth1430-1560
Harvard1470-1580
University of Pennsylvania1370-1520
Princeton1470-1590
Yale1420-1590

For more information on a few of these top schools’ scores and what they’re looking for, check out the following posts. Enjoy!

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Good SAT Scores for Scholarships - magoosh

What Is a Good SAT Score Range for Scholarships?

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.

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. 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 for scholarships. To see the types of scholarships out there, check out our article What’s a Good SAT Score for Scholarships?

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FAQ on SAT Scores - magoosh

Improve your SAT score; start your Magoosh SAT prep today

Frequently Asked Questions About SAT Scores

What are the different types of SAT scores?

1. Reading, Writing and Language, Math Test Scores

First, there are three “test scores” for the Reading test, Writing and Language test, and Math test. Each one of these tests 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 SAT score range.

What is a good SAT score? Our comic will remind you of the SAT Score Range for individual tests.-magoosh

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 SAT score range. The Math score on the 10-40 SAT score scale will be converted to a final score from 200-800. Add these together and you’ll have your overall SAT score.

2. Cross-Test Scores

So the SAT doesn’t have a science section like the ACT does, but it does have “cross-test scores.” Essentially, these 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”). There are also cross-test scores related to history/social studies. Each score will be on a scale of 10 to 40.

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

  • Analysis in History/Social Studies
  • Analysis in Science

 
What is a good SAT score? Our comic will remind you of the SAT score range for cross-tests.-magoosh

3. Subscores

The College Board wants to give college admissions officers as much information as possible, so we have seven subscores. The first two relate to reading comprehension, the next two relate to writing, and the last three relate to math. Each of these subscores is on an SAT score scale of 1 to 15.

Reading Subscores

  • Command of Evidence
  • Words in Context

Writing Subscores

  • Expression of Ideas
  • Standard English Conventions

Math Subscores

  • Heart of Algebra
  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis
  • Passport to Advanced Math

4. Optional Essay Scores

If you’re taking the essay, you’ll have three scores based on the 50-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 each of 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)
    • writing (how well do you write)

In theory, this gives us a total of 24 possible points. However, the scores from each grader will NOT be added up into a composite score, but will instead be added to the other grader’s scores in each area. Thus, you’ll be presented with three scores, on the following scales:

  • 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.

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Why are there so many different scores? How important are they?

The SAT wants to give schools a better breakdown of your skill set. Colleges that want to know the difference between two very similar candidates in terms of SAT scores can learn a lot more with cross-test scores and subscores.

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 your test scores and if they want to dig deeper, they can look at these other scores.

For example, let’s say you get the same Verbal score as another candidate. To get a better sense of your performance, colleges will likely look at how you did on the Reading section and how you did on the Writing section. They might find that you did very poorly on Reading yet thrived in Writing, while the other candidate was average in both sections. 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.

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What are SAT percentiles?

Your SAT percentile measures the percentage of test-takers who got a lower score than you did. This means that percentile numbers, much like score numbers, indicate better test performance when they’re higher.

If you’re in the 91st percentile, for example, it means that only 9% of all other SAT scores are higher than yours. In contrast, in the 30th percentile, 30% of all other test takers would have lower scores than you… and roughly 70% of the SAT scores were higher than yours. This would place you in the bottom half of the year’s test-takers, in terms of performance.

SAT percentiles are calculated annually. Below are the College Board’s most recently released SAT User percentiles.

SAT Percentiles (Composite)

Total (Composite) ScorePercentile
160099+
159099+
158099+
157099+
156099+
155099+
154099
153099
152099
151099
150099
149098
148098
147098
146097
145097
144096
143096
142095
141095
140094
139094
138093
137092
136092
135091
134090
133089
132088
131088
130087
129086
128084
127083
126082
125081
124080
123079
122077
121076
120074
119073
118072
117070
116068
115067
114065
113063
112062
111060
110058
109056
108054
107052
106051
105049
104047
103045
102043
101041
100039
99037
98036
97034
96032
95031
94029
93027
92026
91024
90023
89021
88020
87018
86017
85015
84014
83013
82012
81011
80010
7909
7808
7707
7606
7505
7404
7304
7203
7103
7002
6902
6801
6701
6601
6501
6401
6301-
6201-
6101-
6001-
5901-
5801-
5701-
5601-
5501-
5401-
5301-
5201-
5101-
5001-
4901-
4801-
4701-
4601-
4501-
4401-
4301-
4201-
4101-
4001-

SAT Percentiles (Math)

Total Score (Section)Percentile (Math)
80099+
79099
78098
77098
76097
75096
74096
73095
72094
71093
70092
69091
68089
67088
66086
65085
64083
63081
62079
61077
60075
59072
58069
57066
56064
55061
54057
53053
52049
51044
50040
49037
48034
47031
46028
45025
44022
43020
42017
41015
40013
39011
3809
3707
3606
3504
3403
3302
3201
3101
3001
2901
2801-
2701-
2601-
2501-
2401-
2301-
2201-
2101-
2001-

SAT Percentiles (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing)

Total Score (Section)Percentile (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing)
80099+
79099+
78099+
77099+
76099
75099
74098
73097
72097
71096
70094
69093
68092
67090
66088
65086
64084
63081
62078
61075
60072
59069
58066
57063
56059
55056
54052
53049
52045
51042
50038
49035
48031
47028
46025
45022
44019
43016
42014
41011
4009
3908
3806
3704
3603
3502
3402
3301
3201
3101
3001-
2901-
2801-
2701-
2601-
2501-
2401-
2301-
2201-
2101-
2001-

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How does the SAT score scale compare to other tests?

PSAT vs. SAT Score Scale

PSAT scores range from 320-1520. Because it’s an easier test, a perfect PSAT score corresponds to a 1520 on the SAT. But otherwise, your PSAT score will correspond to what you’d likely get on the SAT if you took it right after the SAT (not as in the very same day, but you know what I mean).

The PSAT 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.

PSAT Score Range

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. 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.

ACT vs. SAT Score Scale

ACT and SAT score ranges are about as dry a topic as they come. But there’s actually some serious drama behind this. Right now, the ACT 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).

Old SAT vs. New SAT Score Scale

The “old” (pre-March 2016) and “new” SAT tests are very different; a student who scored in the 95% on the old Math section might not even crack 80% on the new one, or vice versa. With a table to show which score on the old SAT corresponds to which score on the new SAT, colleges can get a real sense of how students who took only the old test did in comparison to those who took the new test.

Though the tests are pretty different, another way to compare the two is by using SAT score percentiles. If a score of 800 used to correspond to the top 1%, then the same should apply to the new test.

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How can I improve my SAT scores?

Check out this video for tips to boost your score, and read on for resources to help you before and during test day!

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Triumphant student-SAT Score Range: How Will You Score on the SAT?-magoosh

Diagnostic Quiz: How Will You Score on the SAT?

Quiz Starts Here:

This quiz has one page for each SAT section (3 total): Writing and Language ("English"), Math, and Reading.

This quiz will take about 10-20 minutes to complete, so grab some scratch paper and a calculator, and do your best!

  • English
  • Math
  • Reading

Page 1 of 3

English

Instructions

After reading the passage below, choose the answer to each question that most effectively improves the quality of writing in the passage or that makes the passage conform to the conventions of standard written English. Many questions include a "NO CHANGE" option. Choose that option if you think the best choice is to leave the relevant portion of the passage as it is.

 
 
The common setup is researchers will divide subjects into two groups, one of which is allowed to use the Internet after finishing the task, the other of which must finish the task until completion. Yet another common setup allows subjects unfettered use of the Internet when trying to complete the task. Not surprisingly this last group acted 1 worse on tests of productivity. 2 Not so surprisingly the group that used 10 minutes of web access as an incentive, tended not only to finish the task sooner than the group without any web access but also 3 worked with more vigor when their Internet time was up.

1.

2.

Within the context of the paragraph, the underlined portion should be changed to which of the following?

3.


 

How did you do on the Diagnostic Quiz above? What else do you want to know about SAT score ranges? Let us know in the comments!

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

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 10 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!


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