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SAT Percentile Rankings: A Comprehensive Guide to SAT Scores

Ever wonder how your SAT score stacks up against others? That’s where SAT percentile rankings come in. Think of the SAT as a big race. Your score tells you how fast you ran, but the percentile tells you how many runners you passed. 


This guide will help you understand these percentiles better. Knowing where you stand can help you plan for college and set goals for the next time you take the SAT.

Key Takeaways

  • SAT Percentiles: A tool to gauge academic standing among test-takers.
  • College Admissions: The 25th and 75th percentiles are pivotal for application strategies.
  • Trends Over Time: Notable shifts in SAT performance from 2016-2023.
  • Strategic Planning: SAT percentiles aid in targeted college applications.
  • Dynamic Percentiles: SAT rankings can change; staying updated is key.

What are SAT Percentiles?

When you hear about standardized test percentiles, think of it as a big race where everyone’s trying to get the best score. Your SAT score tells you how fast you ran, but the percentile tells you how many runners you passed.


For instance, if your percentile is 85, you did better than 85% of the other students who took the test. It’s like a ranking system showing how you stack up against everyone else.


Now, the SAT has a score range from 400 to 1600. This is the total of your scores from different sections like math and evidence-based reading and writing. This score is important, but knowing your percentile can give you a clearer picture of where you stand.

How Do SAT Percentiles Differ from Raw Scores?

Let’s break this down. Imagine you’re playing a game, and you score 50 points. That’s your raw score – the actual points you earned. But what if you discovered that only 10% of players scored more than 50? That’s what the percentile does. It takes your raw score and tells you how well you did compared to everyone else.


So, while your raw score on the SAT is the total number of questions you got right, the percentile ranks that score. It’s like turning your points from the game into a leaderboard position.

Detailed Breakdown of SAT Percentile Rankings

To truly understand your SAT score, seeing it in the context is helpful. Here, we’ll provide a comprehensive table that breaks down scores for both EBRW and Math.


This table will show the score range and the corresponding percentile, helping you see where your score stands among test takers.


Check out our Free SAT Percentile Calculator


ScoreEBRW PercentileMath Percentile

Composite Score Percentiles, 2016-2023

Over the years, the average SAT scores and their corresponding percentiles can change. You can spot trends by comparing composite score percentiles from 2016 to 2023.

Scores have gone up over the years or haven’t changed much from year to year. This comparison clearly shows how SAT scores have shifted over time.

Section Score Percentiles

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW): The EBRW section tests your reading and writing skills. By looking at the chart for this section, you can see how your score compares to others. The percentile will show how you rank, whether you got a perfect score or something lower.


Math: Math can be tricky for many students. But knowing where you stand can be a big help. The math section will show if your math score is in the top 10%, bottom 50%, or somewhere in between. It’s all about understanding your strengths and areas for improvement.


Remember, the SAT is just one part of your college admissions process. But understanding your SAT score and percentile can help you set goals, choose your test prep strategy, and even pick the right colleges to apply to.


A great way to prepare for the SAT is to take the PSAT. But what are the differences between the PSAT vs SAT?

Student calculating her percentile rankings for the SATs

SAT Percentile Scores in the Context of College Admissions

Colleges often look at percentiles, not just raw SAT scores, when deciding who gets in. Why? Because the percentile score shows how a student ranks compared to others. If your SAT score percentile is high, it means you did better than many other test takers.


Colleges use this to see if you’re among the top students who took the SAT. It helps them understand how prepared you are for college-level work.

How to Find Average SAT Percentile Score for a College

Using Search Engines: When you want to find the average percentile for a college, start with a search engine. But be careful! Find reliable sources like the official SAT site or trusted college admission guides. They’ll give you accurate SAT score data.


Visiting the University Website: Another great way is to go straight to the source. Visit the college’s official website. Most colleges have an “Admissions” or “Prospective Students” section. They often list admitted students’ SAT score range or average SAT score here. This can help you see where you stand.

How Does the Percentile Benefit Both You and the School?

Advantages for Students: Knowing your percentile can be a big help. It can guide you to colleges where you’ll fit in best. If your SAT score percentile is high, you might aim for top colleges. You can find schools where you’ll still thrive if it’s lower. Plus, a good SAT score percentile can boost your chances of getting scholarships!


Advantages for Colleges: Percentiles help colleges pick a balanced group of students. They can see if a student is in the top 10%, 50%, or anywhere in between. This helps colleges build a diverse class with students of different strengths.

Setting and Achieving Your SAT Goals

Everyone has dreams. You may be aiming for a top college or a special scholarship. Knowing your SAT score goal can help. But how do you pick a target SAT percentile?


Tips and Strategies:


  1. Research Your Dream College: Check the average SAT score percentile of students they admit. This gives you a target.
  2. Use SAT Prep: Many online and offline resources help you prepare. The College Board, the group that makes the SAT, even has some tools.
  3. Practice Tests: Take them! They can show you where you stand and what you must work on.

Importance of Setting Realistic Goals: Dream big, but be real. If your current test score is 1100, aiming for a 1600 might be a stretch. But raising your score by 100 points? That’s doable with hard work.

Do Percentiles Change?

Yes, they can. Over the years, the average SAT scores and SAT percentiles can shift. Maybe students are studying harder, or the test has changed slightly. It’s important to look at the latest data compared to scores from years ago.

How Percentiles Get Calculated

Ever wonder how they figure out percentiles? It’s a big math game. They look at all the scores from students who took the SAT. Then, they rank them. If your score exceeds 85% of the test takers, your percentile is 85.

Do Percentile Scores Change Over Time?

They can. Just like fashion trends, SAT score trends can change from year to year. Maybe one year had super-smart test takers. Or the SAT underwent some changes. It’s always good to check the latest percentiles chart for the most recent data.


Student climbing the SAT mountains to score in the highest percentile

Making the Most of Your SAT Percentile Information

Your SAT score is more than just a number. It’s a reflection of your hard work, your skills, and how you compare to others. But beyond the score, understanding where you stand percentile-wise can be a game-changer.


Strategic Planning for College Applications: Knowing your SAT score percentile can help you make smart choices. For instance, if you’re in the 90th percentile, you score better than 90% of test takers. This can be a strong point in your college application. It can also guide you to colleges where your score will shine. You may aim for top-tier universities or seek scholarship opportunities at other schools.


Understanding Your Standing Among Test-Takers: It’s not just about your score but how it ranks. Are you in the top 10%? The middle 50%? Knowing this can boost your confidence. It can also help you decide if you want to retake the test or are happy with where you stand.


Navigating the world of college admissions can feel like sailing through a vast ocean. Among the many tools at your disposal, understanding where your SAT score stands in the grand scheme of things – its percentile ranges – is akin to having a reliable compass. It doesn’t just tell you where you are; it gives you a sense of direction.


Throughout this guide, we’ve delved deep into the intricacies of SAT score percentiles, from the basics to how they fit into the broader college admissions landscape.


We’ve seen how these rankings can shift year to year and how they’re calculated. But more than just numbers, they reflect your hard work, dedication, and where you stand among the sea of test takers.


So, as you chart your course towards your dream college or aim to improve that SAT score, remember the value of understanding your percentile.


It’s not just about aiming high; it’s about knowing where you stand and using that knowledge to your advantage.


Whether you’re in the 51st percentile or the coveted 99th, every score tells a story. And with the right tools and information, you can make sure it’s a story of success.

What percentile is 1550 on SAT?

A 1550 on the SAT is an outstanding score and typically places a student in the 99th percentile, meaning they scored higher than 99% of test-takers.

What is 96th percentile on SAT?

Being in the 96th percentile on the SAT means that a student scored higher than 96% of test-takers. The exact score corresponding to the 96th percentile can vary slightly from year to year, but it’s typically in the mid to high 1400s range.

What is a top 1% SAT score?

A top 1% SAT score refers to the 99th percentile, meaning a student scored higher than 99% of test-takers. This typically corresponds to a score in the high 1400s to 1500s out of 1600.

Can I get into Harvard with a 1100 SAT score?

While Harvard does not have a strict SAT score cutoff, an 1100 is significantly below the average score of admitted students, which typically hovers around the high 1400s to 1500s range.


Admission to Harvard is highly competitive, and while SAT scores are an important component, they also consider other factors such as GPA, extracurriculars, essays, and recommendations. It’s always possible for exceptional circumstances or outstanding achievements in other areas to offset a lower score, but it would be challenging.

Can I get into MIT with a 1200 SAT?

Like Harvard, MIT does not have a strict SAT score cutoff, but 1200 is below the average score of admitted students, typically in the 1500s. MIT’s admissions process is holistic, considering academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and personal qualities. While 1200 would make admission more challenging, other exceptional aspects of an application could compensate.