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What’s a Good SAT Score?


What’s a good SAT score? If you’re trying to figure out your SAT score goal for 2016 or 2017 admissions, you’ll want to look at the SAT averages for the schools to which you’re applying. There are great resources like the College Board where you can search for averages at a wide variety of colleges.

[Related: What’s a good PSAT score? >]

The new SAT is based on a 1600-point scale, with two sections—Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing—scored between 200 and 800, and the optional essay evaluated separately. There is no penalty for wrong answers, so your raw score is the sum of the number of questions you answer correctly. Raw scores are converted to scaled scores, which are used to determine percentile ranks. The percentile indicates how well you did compared to other test takers. For example, if you score in the 72nd percentile, you did better than 72% of test takers.

What does this mean for you? Here’s what you need to know about your SAT score:



SAT Score Ranges


Best Scores

These scores will put you in the top 10% of all test takers


MATH: 680 – 800


Competitive Scores

These scores will put you in a highly competitive place in admissions (top 25% of all test takers)


MATH: 610 – 670


Above Average Scores

These scores put you ahead of the pack (50%+), but won’t be as advantageous when applying to highly competitive programs


MATH: 520 – 600


Below Average Scores

These scores may be enough to get into a wide variety of college programs, but will be below average compared to the testing population


MATH: 510 or lower

How is the SAT scored?

Your answer sheet is scanned, and your raw score is calculated by the College Board system. Because there’s no penalty for guessing for the New SAT test, your raw score is the number of questions you answered correctly. Raw scores are converted to scores on a scale of 200 to 800 using a process called equating. This process ensures that your score is not affected by different forms of the test or other test-takers’ ability levels. This scaled score is what you see when you get your scores.

Scoring Factors

The SAT is scored on a 200-800 scale in each section in 10 point increments. The two sections (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math) will have scores provided separately. This relatively small scale means that small improvements in your score can make a big difference in your percentile ranking (sometimes, a ten point increase in your score can boost your percentile ranking by 5 points).

Remember that on the new SAT, you are NOT penalized for wrong answers. Understanding the scoring and knowing how to approach each section is important part of doing your best on test day.

How is the SAT Essay scored?

SAT Essay responses are scored using a carefully designed process:

  • Two different people will read and score your essay.
  • Each scorer awards 1–4 points for each dimension: reading, analysis, and writing. 4 will be Advanced, 3 Proficient, 2 Partial and 1 Inadequate.
  • The two scores for each dimension are added.
  • You’ll receive three scores for the SAT Essay — one for each dimension — ranging from 2–8 points.

Ready to see how you’d score on the new SAT? Take a free practice test.

Other Factors

Remember that your SAT score is not the only factor that will be considered. Whether or not you are admitted to a college program (and whether or not you receive scholarship money) can depend on several factors. In addition to focusing on achieving the best SAT score possible for you, you should also work on obtaining the best GPA possible, writing a spectacular personal statement, taking a challenging course load and, and rounding out your application with extra-curriculars.