fbpx

    What is a Good SAT Score?

    March 31, 2021 | Staff Writers

    Degree Finder
    BestValueSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

    The SAT is one of the main college admission tests in the United States. As much as this exam has no particular pass mark, a brilliant SAT score can raise your chances of gaining admission into a top college. The SAT is a standardized test with two sections: Math and Evidence-based Reading and Writing (EBRW). It’s referred to as a standardized test as it’s designed so that the mean score ranges around 1000. The average score for Math is 528, while the average score for EBRW is 531. Apart from the two dominant sections, the SAT also has an optional essay. To determine whether you should write this essay, you should consider whether any of the colleges you plan to join requires it.

    One of the best ways to understand your SAT score is to understand SAT score percentiles. Your SAT percentile tells you how you did on the SAT compared with every other student who took the test, which means that if you got a composite percentile of 75, you scored higher than 75% of the test takers. The SAT gives you a percentile ranking for each of the two sections. Reasoning from this fact, if you got in the 90th percentile on the Math section, only 10% of the Math test-takers performed better than you.

    Every parent or guardian hopes that one day, their child will go to college. It’s logical to assume that you, as a student, would also one day like to be admitted to the college of your choice to begin pursuing your degree and career. For this dream to materialize, you need to be aware of certain aspects of the SAT. They include:

    1. How SAT scores are ranked
    2. What range is considered to be a good SAT score?
    3. SAT scores required by most colleges and universities
    4. Schooling options if your results are in a lower percentile of SAT scores

    How SAT Scores Are Ranked

    To understand how SAT scores are ranked, you must be able to interpret SAT score reports.  SAT score reports are customarily released many weeks after you complete the standardized test. As a test-taker, you must understand what to expect. Without a good understanding of what to expect, you’ll find it pretty challenging to make sense of your results. You’ll also find it rather difficult to know what steps you should undertake after receiving your report. To avoid finding yourself in such a predicament, here are the different reported results that will be present on your scorecard that you ought to be well-aware of.

    • Total Test Scores
      Your total score refers to the overall score you get when you combine your two section scores. It’s worth noting that the highest composite score is 1600, while the average score is 1000. Yearly, over two million students sit for the SAT. Out of the two million, less than a thousand students typically score the perfect 1600 points. If you’d like to have an ideal total score or just a good SAT score, you must prepare accordingly for the test.
    • Section Scores
      Section scores refer to the individual scores for the SAT’s two main sections. Each section is scored out of 800, and the higher your section scores, the higher your overall test score. Most colleges prefer to admit students with high section scores to students with low section scores. With this in mind, it’s safe to say that if you’d one day like to join a prestigious college or any other higher learning institution, achieving high section scores should be one of your topmost priorities.
    • Cross-Test Scores
      Not many individuals are aware of what their cross-test scores mean. Your cross-test scores are based on your performance answering questions with science or social studies context. These scores range from 10 to 40. For those contemplating pursuing college degrees based on either science or history at a top college, having high cross-test scores is imperative.
    • Subscores
      Heart of Algebra, Command of Evidence, Passport to Advanced Math, Words in Context, Expression of Ideas, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Standard English Conventions are the SAT’s seven subscores. The subscores range from 1 to 15. These scores aim to give further detail into the types of questions where many students perform above and below expectations. Using your SAT subscores, you can rapidly identify your strengths and weaknesses.
    • Essay Scores
      As its name suggests, essay scores refer to a students’ scores after completing the SAT essay. Several top-notch universities demand that their applicants have good essay scores, and if you’d like to join one, getting a high essay score is a must.
    • Score Ranges
      Standardized tests such as the SAT can’t measure precisely all you know. No single test can do that. With this in mind, it’s best to think of each score as a range. This range goes from a couple of points below to a couple of points above your earned score. Generally, your score range shows you just how much your score can alter if you sit for another SAT, supposing your level of skill stays constant.
    • Average Scores
      Your scorecard will show you the mean/average scores earned by students present in your grade. As average scores are primarily used for comparison purposes, they’ll enable you to evaluate your performance comparatively. When taking an SAT, you should always aim to get good SAT scores higher than the average scores. If your total score is higher than the average, your chances of gaining college admission are pretty high.
    • Benchmarks
      On your score report, you’ll notice that there’s a benchmark score for each section. Benchmark scores are often considered to represent college readiness. As such, it’s logical to state that if your section scores are higher than each section’s benchmark scores, you’re more than ready for college.
    • Percentile Ranking
      To fully understand how SAT scores are ranked, you must have a good understanding of percentiles. It’s essential to note that the term percentile doesn’t have a universal definition. Generally, the term is defined as a number where a given percentage of scores falls below. Once you’ve got a good definition of the term percentile, it’s in your best interest to understand what a percentile rank is. A percentile rank refers to a figure between 1 and 99. This figure depicts how you fared in comparison to other students. 

      You’ll notice two percentiles on your score report: the National Representative Sample percentile and the User Percentile. The National Representative percentile equates your scores to the scores earned by 11th grade and 12th-grade students across the country whereas, the User Percentile equates the scores you earned to the scores attained by recent graduates who took the SAT while still in high school.

    Having a good understanding of your scorecard is hugely vital. Hopefully, using this article as your guide, you’ll be able to understand your scorecard with ease.

    What Range Is Considered to Be A Good SAT Score?

    The question, “What range is a good SAT score?” is one of the most searched queries on the internet by many students hoping to go to college. People wonder about this question for a lot of reasons, and it can be attributed to the fact that if you, for example, fall in a range considered to be a good SAT score, you’re likely to gain admission into your college-of-choice.

    To fall in a range considered elite, you must first attain a good SAT score. Every year, millions of students take the SAT. As much as the SAT is a standardized test, a massive number of test-takers usually fail to pass it. To avoid failing your SAT, there are certain things you need to do and certain resources you need to have. 

    Here are some of the things you need to do and the resources you ought to have if you’d like to pass your SAT.

    • Decide on a Target Score Range
      Before taking the SAT, it’s in your best interest to take some time and think about what your SAT score will help you accomplish. Having a clear goal is essential. When you have a clear goal, you’ll find it relatively easy to stay motivated. To decide on a target score range, put together a list of all of the colleges you are applying to. Then, do some research to determine the required SAT score of each school. Once you know what SAT scores you need, work towards achieving that goal.
    • Set Up a Practice Schedule
      For you to achieve a high SAT score, you must set up a practice schedule. SAT prep is very important. Without quality SAT prep, you’re likely to fail your SAT. No one ever wants to fail. By setting up and sticking to a good practice schedule, you’ll be able to prepare adequately for the test. In the past, many students have succeeded in getting high SAT scores as a result of consistent practice. Thus, if you want to achieve the same fate, you should set up a practice schedule and stick to it. Make use of your free time and tackle some practical questions. 
    • Avoid Studying Using Low-Quality Study Materials
      If you’d like to have high standardized test scores, you should prepare for the SAT using high-quality study material. Unlike other tests, the SAT is pretty simple, but many sitting for the test don’t do as well as they could do because the simple concepts presented in the test are not straightforward. If you don’t pay close attention to the question wording, you won’t understand what the test is asking. To avoid suffering such a predicament, you need to use high-quality materials. By using high-quality materials, you’ll be able to learn the patterns the College Board uses to twist the simple concepts. When you have a good mastery of these patterns, you can rest easy as you’re certain you’ll get a high raw score.
    • Emphasize on Quality, Not Quantity
      As a test-taker, it’s advisable that you work smart and not hard. In the past, many students have failed simple SATs after cramming. Although cramming may work, it’s not an effective learning method. All in all, cramming is a bad idea. To improve your SAT score, you should pay attention to quality first. If you do so, you’ll be able to understand a lot of information. The key to getting high SAT/ACT scores is understanding the questions and understanding the type of answers the examiners want. If you emphasize quality, you can easily understand the questions and answers expected of you.
    • Understand Your Mistakes
      If you’d like to exceed a percentile of 75, you must have a good understanding of your mistakes. According to many respected and experienced examiners, if you fail to understand why you missed a particular practice question, you’ll likely repeat the same mistake over and again when taking the test. To understand your mistakes, here are certain things that you can do:
      • On each practice test that you do, label each query whose answer you’re uncertain of.
      • While grading your practice test, review every question that you labeled and each question that you missed. 
      • Please write down the meaning of the question and its correct answer. Also, write down how to identify how a similar question can be reworded. This way, you’ll be able to avoid making a similar mistake in the actual exam.
    • Develop Your Study Habits
      Most community colleges admit students with average SAT scores. In comparison, prestigious schools only accept students with high SAT scores. If you’d like to gain admission into a top college, you must attain high total scores. To do so, you need to carry out adequate SAT prep. Developing your study habits is one way of improving your SAT prep. When you’ve got good study habits, you’ll find it relatively stress-free to learn and understand the simple concepts that are normally set on the SAT. The better your study habits are, the higher your chances are of passing the standardized test.

    Although these steps may sound relatively simple, they can help you achieve the high SAT essay scores and SAT subject scores you desire.

    SAT Scores Required by Most Colleges and Universities

    Different colleges and universities tend to have different SAT score requirements. The required SAT scores usually vary due to factors such as school prestige and competitiveness. It’s worth mentioning that a good score is ultimately tied to the college/university you want to attend. Some colleges, such as the Ivy League schools, often prefer students who boast SAT scores higher than 1500. Some other colleges, such as state and community colleges, often admit students who boast of having SAT scores higher than 1200. Before applying for college admission into a given higher learning institution, it’s in your best interest to learn about the SAT scores it requires its applicants to have.

    What Are the Criteria That Are Used by Most Colleges For Admissions?

    For years, a person’s standardized test score or his/her high school GPA determined whether the person would gain admission into college. Nowadays, many students usually have fantastic ACT and SAT scores. Most students also have outstanding test-score averages. As such, many students typically apply for college admission spots. Due to the high number of applicants, highly selective colleges often use different criteria while selecting first-year students. 

    Here are some of the common factors colleges consider before selecting a student.

    • Grades in College Prep Courses
      It’s unsurprising that whether a test taker is admitted into their college-of-choice has a lot to do with grades and test scores. Most colleges consider their applicants’ test scores in college prep courses. If you boast of having good college prep courses’ grades, it gives your college-of-choice the impression that you can handle the college workload.
    • Strength of Curriculum
      Traditional and online colleges often look for students who took the most challenging courses and passed them. As this is the case, if you want to get admitted into a top-notch college, it’s in your best interest to pass all the challenging courses that you do. Not many schools offer difficult college prep courses. If yours does, you should take these courses.
    • Letters of Recommendation
      No college ever wants to admit rowdy students who aren’t going to work hard. Most colleges require that applicants attach letters of recommendation from their teachers and high school counselors. As such, if you’d like to improve your chances of gaining admission, you should have genuine letters of recommendation.
    • Essay Sample
      Nowadays, many colleges often ask their applicants to submit an essay or personal statement stating valid reasons why they think they should be admitted. Some other colleges may require their applicants to answer given questions with shorter essays. With this in mind, when applying for admission to a given college, you must be well prepared to write a compelling essay.

    Making the cut is not easy. As this is the case, to boost your chances of college admission, you ought to have good grades, good standardized scores, a brilliant class rank, fantastic letters of recommendation, a positive reputation, as well as good writing skills.

    What Schools Require SAT Subject Tests?

    Most colleges often require their applicants to submit their standardized test scores. However, some don’t. Schools that don’t require standardized test scores are usually referred to as test-optional schools. Some of the schools that use the test-optional policy include Bowdoin College, the University of Chicago, and Bucknell University. 

    That said, it’s common knowledge that certain schools require SAT subject tests. Examples of such schools include the California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and many more. Before applying for admission to a given college, you should get to know whether they require SAT subject test scores.

    Schooling Options If Your Results Are in A Lower Percentile of SAT Scores

    As a student, it’s understandable that you may want to further your education past high school. There are some qualifications that you must possess to achieve this dream of yours. One is high SAT section scores. Different colleges tend to have varying admission criteria, but most high-end colleges and universities have one thing in common. They typically only admit students who score in the 75th percentile and above. Given that this is the case, if you plan to join a top college, you should aim higher than the average SAT score. It would be best if you also tried to be part of the 75th percentile or higher. 

    When Is It Not Worthwhile to Take the SAT Or ACT?

    The question, “When is it not worthwhile to take the SAT or ACT?” is usually asked by many students who plan on applying for college admissions. If you’re one of those wondering whether or not to take the SAT/ACT, you should get to know if your college-of-choice is test-optional, test blind, or text flexible.

    The term test-optional refers to colleges and universities that don’t demand an SAT test or ACT score. Such colleges let their applicants choose whether or not to submit their test scores. If you submit your scores at such a school, the school will consider your scores. However, it may focus on other parts of the application more.

    Some schools are test blind. Test blind colleges are schools that don’t consider any standardized scores, even when submitted. If you plan on joining a college known to be test blind, it isn’t worthwhile to take the SAT or ACT as they won’t be considered anyway.

    Over the past couple of years, many colleges have become test-flexible. Test-flexible schools are colleges that allow those students applying to join them the freedom to submit their standardized test scores or different tests in their place. Before deciding to take the SAT, finding out if your preferred college is test-flexible is quite essential. If you find out that your college-of-choice is test-flexible, you can decide not to take the SAT.

    What Are Your Schooling Options If Your Results Are in A Lower Percentile Of SAT Scores?

    The minimum possible composite SAT score is 400. Although scoring 400 points is highly unlikely, it is still possible. If you get such a low score, you must accept your scores and improve them. On numerous occasions, students who failed their first SATs have gone on to pass their second trial after adequately preparing. Similarly, several students with poor MCAT scores have been able to improve their scores after adequately preparing.

    If re-doing the test isn’t an option, when your results are in a lower percentile of SAT scores, for example, the 25th percentile, you should consider applying for admission in small liberal arts colleges, as well as state universities. Some universities in your state may also accept you so long as you’re a registered citizen of the state.

    Determining the lowest score you can get and still get admitted at a particular higher learning institution is a daunting task, primarily because most higher learning institutions admit candidates along within a specific test scores range. To gain insight on the score that you should aim for, you should visit your potential college’s admission website as most college websites usually provide the test score range for the 25th-75th percentiles of their freshmen. If you score below a college’s 25th percentile, you shouldn’t lose hope as you can still get admitted so long as all the other parts of your application are strong. In contrast, if you score above the 75th percentile mark of your preferred college, you’re in a great position to get admitted.

    In Summary

    The SAT covers simple content, but the wording of the questions is challenging to figure out. If you prepare adequately for this test, you’re bound to succeed. On the contrary, if you fail to prepare, you’re likely not going to do as well. A good number of colleges use the SAT scores to compare applicants to help them determine the best candidates for admission. Even though test scores don’t top the list of factors most colleges use to admit new students, it’s correct to say that they play a huge role.

    Only you can decide who sees your scores. If you sit for the SAT more than once, you’ll want to send only your best scores. However, you may be unable to do so as you may find that your college-of-choice requires that you submit all your scores. You may also find that another college you’re considering enrolling at only asks you to submit your highest combined scores. The difference between these two colleges is not uncommon as each college sets its policy. Nevertheless, you’re solely in charge of who to send your scores to.

    Getting a high score on your SAT is no easy feat, but it can be done. If you have aspirations of attending college, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re going to have to not only take the SAT but also do pretty well on it. If you have ambitions to go to an elite college or university, you’ll have to score even better. 

    Remember, the material covered on the SAT test isn’t that difficult. It’s all the things you should have learned in your high school classes. But the questions aren’t straightforward, so it’s a good idea to do some test prep before sitting to take the actual exam.

    Find the program that’s right for you

    Whether you’re trying to start your career or make a big change, we can help you find the perfect school to help you reach your goals.

    Degree Finder
    BestValueSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
    Scroll to Top