Whether you are just starting to think about college or about to apply to college in a couple months, test scores are a vital part to the college application. But what is a good test score? In this video, I’ll go through ranges of SAT® scores that would be considered “good” for the college you want to go to.
So let’s talk SAT® scores!
Now, what’s a decent SAT® score?
I’d define it as being in the top 50% of all students taking the test: around a 1000-1080 on the SAT®.
This range is what I’d say you need if you’re looking to attend a local or regional 4-year university. Scoring at least a 500 (preferably mid 500’s) in each section would bring you up to the level of an average SAT® score for a college-bound student who just wants to go to college.
If you’re not hitting 500 on both sections of the exam, you may have trouble gaining admission to a traditional 4-year university. With that said, there are also colleges that don’t emphasize test scores or schools you can get into with lower scores. However, keep in mind that the lower your score is, the fewer options you’ll have.
What’s a good SAT® score?
The next score category is around a 1200, which means scoring around a 600 for each section. According to College Board’s statistics, if you score around a 1200, you’re in the top quarter of students who take the SAT®.
While this score won’t give you admission into top tier schools, it will give you many more options to different 4-year universities. There will also be some top 100 schools—according to the US News and World Reports—that will accept this score!
What’s a great SAT® score?
If you’re looking to get into schools that are ranked among the top 30-50 schools nationally, you will want a score ranging from 1300-1360. This means scoring 650 or higher on each section on average to get into some of these colleges, and depending on how high on the list the school is, your goal score will vary a little bit. A few examples of schools in the top 30-50 range are Boston College, UC San Diego, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and New York University. These are just a few schools where a 650-680 score for each section is within the 25th to 75th percentile.
To illustrate, NYU’s score range is 610-710 for critical reading; this means that 25% of their students scored lower than 610 and a 25% of students scored over a 710 in critical reading. A score between 650-680 would place you in the middle of the pack for NYU. Overall, having a score between 1300-1360 would make you an average applicant to these schools, depending on which one you’re applying to. If there’s a school you have your heart set on, I encourage you to go look up their exact percentiles to base your goal score on.
For even more competitive schools (ranked approximately 15th to 30th nationally), such as Emory University, Georgetown University, UC Berkeley, UCLA, or USC, you want to score between a 1370 to a 1410 to be an average applicant. These top 15-30 schools will want to see scores around 700 per section.
As for top 15 schools in the country, you will want to score above a 1500 overall to be in the 50th percentile, which comes out to an average of 750 per section. I also wanted to note that at this point in the list of colleges, there is not much variation between score ranges of the top 5 schools and top 15 schools.
College admissions is not purely based on your test scores! It’s a very complex process that factors in many other aspects of your application, such as your extracurricular activities, essays, and GPA.
Also, colleges have based these score ranges off the old SAT® and converted them, because colleges haven’t necessarily gathered enough data for the new SAT®. These ranges, however, will still give you an idea of what a good SAT® score is.
It really comes down to what YOU want to do and where YOU want to go. If you already have a specific college in mind, all you have to do is look up the “(college name) average SAT® score” to find out where your test score places you within the pool of applicants.
At the end of the day, a good SAT® score is the score that will get you into the college you want to go to. Whether that’s a 1200 or a 1500, it all depends on who you are and what your goals are!