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What Is a Good SAT Score?

Getting accepted into your dream school relies on acceptable SAT test scores. It is an added stress for high school juniors and seniors. Once students take the SAT in high school, they patiently wait for test scores.  Now that you have taken the SAT and gotten your test scores back, it’s time to see if you earned a good SAT score, but what is a good SAT score for college?

Explanation of Scores

After you take the SAT, you will receive your test scores from the college board. The test score will be a composite score of both sections of the test.  The two areas are math and a combined reading and writing score called Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. This is also known as EBRW. Each section of the SAT has a score range of 200-800. The total score range is 400-1600.  Students find their scores on their reports.

Percentile Ranking

Many schools don’t look at just your SAT scores but also your percentile ranking. To find your percentile ranking divide your total out of 1600. This ranking helps you compare your scores to other students. If you got a 70th percentile score, you scored better than 70% of all test takers. Schools know a student who scores in the 70th percentile is one they want enrolling in their school.

Average SAT Scores

Scoring above average is one of the ways you know you have a good SAT score.  The median composite score on the SAT is 1059.  This means if you score about 500 for each section of the test, you will have an average SAT score. The math section’s average SAT score is 528, with the average SAT score in evidence-based reading and writing being 531.  The percentage of students scoring in the middle of the range is greater than those scoring at the bottom or top.  The average SAT score will get you into college, but it may not be your dream school.

What is an Excellent SAT Score?

A good SAT score is dependent on the requirements of your dream school.  Different schools require different scores for admissions.  If you desire to get into one of the top 100 most selective schools, you will need a composite of at least 1200, but 1400 is preferable.  The top five percent of SAT test-takers score more than 1400.  This is an excellent SAT score.

What is a Good SAT Score?

A good SAT score is between the 50th and 75th percentile, a range from 1059-1215. If you score less than 1059, you scored below average compared to other test takers, which is not a good score. The college board publishes new numbers every year based on score ranges from the latest year’s scores.

Why is a Good Score Important?

Now that we have established that a good score is between 1059 and 1215 with an excellent score being 1400, why do you need a good score?

College Admission

Acceptable SAT Scores are essential to help you get into college. Scoring high in evidence-based reading and writing, and math will help you get a good score. Keep in mind, admission into college isn’t solely dependent on your SAT or ACT scores. Other factors include GPA, college application essays, and other factors.

Merit Scholarship

If you are a sophomore or fall junior, you can take the PSAT and qualify for the National Merit Scholarship. Test takers take the PSAT to get an idea of questions on the SAT and qualify for it.  Scoring is slightly different for the PSAT, but the concept of scoring well is the same.

Receiving the Scholarship

The higher the score and percentile, the more likely you will receive the scholarship.  Colleges often give free tuition to high school students who receive this award. After you receive your scores, you must apply to the college board for the scholarship as it is a score-based scholarship.

What if You Don’t Like Your Test Score?

If you don’t like your SAT score or get the score you want, you can try again. Plan to retake the test. Before you retake the test, there are a few things you should do to prepare.


After your first test, you can study reading, writing, and math. Studying with the best SAT prep books will raise your score as well as your GPA—plan to study at least three months before your next test date. Develop a study plan that includes time set aside at least three times a week.

Lowest SAT Score

If your lowest score is in reading, writing, and language, studying these areas will increase your overall score. If math is your lowest percentile, then studying math helps improve your overall percentile.  Look into test prep programs like Khan Academy or PrepScholar to help find your strengths and weaknesses. Studying and retaking helps get you higher scores.

Set a Goal

While studying for the SAT, students should set a goal. Researching the colleges and their requirements for admission is the first step. Once you find the required SAT score for admission, post the score where you will see it. Share with family and friends so they can encourage you to make your SAT score goal. If a student takes the test more than once, they could earn top scores and in the top percentile. A higher score will help students apply to get into colleges other students may not be able to get into. A higher GPA will be beneficial, as well.


A good SAT score is dependent on the colleges you are applying to.  If you want to get in the top 100 colleges, you will need to score in the 95 percentile. Scoring between the 50th-75 percentile will get you into a good college. Retaking the test is one way to get into the college you want to if you do not get the score you desire when you participate in it the first time. Plan to take the test multiple times to get the best outcome.

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