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What's a Good SAT® Score?


You know you need to study for the SAT, but how high do you need to score to get into one of your top college choices?

Each college you’ll apply to has different average SAT score ranges for admitted applicants. Check with individual schools to see what their average scores are. But you can also keep these tips in mind:

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Score Overview

The 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.

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There is no penalty for wrong answers, so your raw score is the sum of the number of questions you answer correctly.

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Raw scores are converted to scaled scores, which are used to determine percentile ranks.

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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.

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Score Ranges


Combined Scores
Math Scores
Reading and Writing Scores
400-1010
Below Average
Under 50%

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

1030-1180
Above Average
Top 50%

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

1200-1320
Competitive
Top 25%

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

1340-1600
Top Scores
Top 10% of Test Takers

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

210-510
Below Average
Under 50%

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

530-600
Above Average
Top 50%

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

640-670
Competitive
Top 25%

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

690-800
Top Scores
Top 10% of Test Takers

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

200-510
Below Average
Under 50%

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

520-600
Above Average
Top 50%

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

610-670
Competitive
Top 25%

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

680-800
Top Scores
Top 10% of Test Takers

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

How is the SAT Scored?

Every correct answer you give on the SAT will be added up to calculate your raw score. (Remember, there’s no penalty for guessing on the SAT.) Next, your raw score will be converted to a scaled score, in a range from 200 to 800 for each section. The College Board, the organization that administers the test, uses a process called “equating” to make sure the scores are scaled fairly and there’s no advantage for taking the SAT on a particular day.

How is the SAT Essay Scored?

Your essay score will range from 2 to 8 points for each “dimension” of the essay--Reading, Analysis, and Writing. Two different essay scorers will read your work, and will rate your essay from 1-4 points on each of these dimensions. Then the two scorers’ ratings will be added together for each dimension. A score of 2 on any of the dimensions could mean there are errors in your response or that you lack sufficient details. A score of 8 indicates you really understood the source text, and you’re offering proper detail and support for your argument.

Should You Aim for a Better Score?

If you’re unhappy with your SAT score, or if you’re not sure it’s in the right range for the top colleges on your target list, you can consider retaking the exam. Many students who retake the SAT do better when they take it again. You can also consider whether the ACT® might be a better fit--find out here.

Beyond the Score

Remember, colleges look at many factors besides your SAT score. Work toward as high an SAT score as you can get, but don’t let a focus on achievement on this exam get in the way of a high GPA, writing a memorable college essay, or excelling in your extracurriculars.

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Breathe easy knowing that we believe in you. We are so confident in your success that if your score doesn't improve, we'll either give you your money back, or let you retake the class for free. For full eligibility requirements, visit kaptest.com/kaplan-higher-score-guarantee.