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What is a Good SAT Score? 9 Tips To Ace The SAT

The SAT, originally called the Scholastic Assessment Test, is a standardized test widely used for college admissions in the United States. This test assesses a student’s readiness for college and can be a crucial factor in the college admissions process. But what is a Good SAT Score?


A good score is not one-size-fits-all. Different colleges have varying expectations when it comes to test scores.


Understanding your goal score is vital as it helps you set realistic expectations and target colleges that align with your capabilities.


The SAT measures skills in:

  • Mathematics
  • Evidence-based reading and writing.
  • Its scores range from 400 to a perfect score of 1600.

This guide aims to demystify the SAT scoring system, emphasizing the importance of setting a personal goal score based on your college list and aspirations.


And most importantly, we’ll arm you with actionable SAT prep strategies to improve your score, making your college application stand out.

Key Takeaways

  • The SAT is a standardized test used by many colleges to evaluate college readiness. Scores range from 400 to 1600.
  • A good SAT score can influence college admissions decisions and even merit scholarship opportunities.
  • This guide helps decipher what’s considered a good SAT score based on various college criteria.
  • Practical SAT prep tips to elevate your performance and score.

What Constitutes a Good SAT Score Overall?

With scores ranging from 400 to 1600, determining what’s “good” requires a bit more nuance than just looking at the numbers.


The SAT comprises two primary sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW). Each section scores between 200 and 800, which, when combined, gives you your total score.


But how do these scores measure up in the grand scheme of college admissions?


In general terms, any score that falls above this 50th percentile can be regarded as the median since you’re in the upper half of all those taking the test.


A score of 1100-1200 typically falls toward the 75th percentile and is considered “good.” 

Student looking at SAT score performance

SAT Percentiles – What Do They Mean?

Percentiles play a pivotal role in gauging where you stand. If you score in the 50th percentile, it means you’ve outperformed half of the test-takers.


However, the story changes a bit when you’re aiming for selective colleges. Scoring at the median, or 50th percentile, might not be competitive enough for institutions with a tough applicant pool.


If you’re targeting such colleges, it’s advisable to aim for a score in the 75th percentile or higher. To break it down further:


  • Aiming for the Majority: If you’re scoring around the median, the average total score is 1050, which means you’re doing better than 50% of test-takers.

  • Setting Higher Targets: For those looking to attend more competitive institutions, a score of 1200 or higher (75th percentile score) is often recommended.

  • Breaking Down Sectional Scores: A “good” score for each section (SAT Math or EBRW) would hover around the 500-600 mark which is the middle 50.

While any score above the median is technically “good,” your personal goals and the colleges you aspire to join will often dictate what score you should target.


(Read our post about SAT Score Percentiles  or use our Free Percentile Calculator)  

What is The Average SAT Test Score?

The SAT, a standard pillar of the college admissions process, presents a broad range of scores. But where does the average student stand on this spectrum?


Every year, the College Board releases data highlighting the national average scores for students who took the SAT.


Historically, the average SAT score hovers around the midpoint of the SAT score range. For example, if we consider a total SAT score range from 400 to 1600, a score of 1050 was the average this year.


These averages can vary slightly from year to year, so it’s always a good idea to consult the most current SAT data.

Lowest SAT Range

While much emphasis is placed on achieving high scores and surpassing averages, understanding the lower end of the SAT score spectrum is equally important.


The lowest possible score a student can achieve on the SAT is 400, with the minimum score for the math and EBRW sections being 200 each.


A score on the lower end doesn’t necessarily spell doom for a student’s college aspirations.


Many colleges and universities adopt a holistic approach, considering other factors like extracurricular activities, personal statements, and letters of recommendation.

Some institutions are test-optional, meaning scores aren’t required. For students with scores on the lower end, applying to a test-optional school can be an appealing choice.


A low initial score can serve as a foundation and insight into where you need to improve for the next time you take the test. You can improve your score with dedication and a targeted prep plan.

What Is The Highest SAT Score? The Perfect Composite Score

For many students preparing to take the SAT, the goal isn’t just to achieve an average score, but to aim for the elusive perfect score. But what does this perfect score entail, and how many actually achieve it?


Achieving a perfect SAT score is a commendable feat and is indeed rare. The College Board, which administers the SAT, doesn’t publicly disclose the exact number of students who achieve this perfect score.


However, data suggests that of the millions of students who take the SAT annually, less than 1 % achieve the maximum score of 1600.


Getting a perfect composite SAT score isn’t just about inherent intelligence. It often requires a rigorous SAT prep plan, extensive practice, and an in-depth understanding of the test structure.


For many, it’s not just about one’s ability to answer questions correctly but also mastering the strategy to tackle each section efficiently and effectively.

A Strong Score for College Admissions

The SAT remains a critical component of the college admissions process, especially for competitive schools. But when we talk about a “strong” score, what exactly do we mean? And how does this vary from one institution to another?


For most selective schools, this often means scoring well above the national average.


Every year, colleges publish a range called the middle 50% SAT range. This range indicates where the middle 50% of admitted students’ scores lie.


For instance, if Harvard University’s middle 50% SAT score range is 1300-1480, then a score of 1350 would place a student toward the lower end of admitted students, while a score above 1480 would position them at the top 25%.

Read the full post on what is a good SAT score for Harvard University.

Good SAT Score for Top Universities

School 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
U Penn
Johns Hopkins

Your SAT Score & Scholarships

Many scholarship programs, both private and those offered by colleges themselves, use scores as a primary criterion.


Earn a high SAT score, and more opportunities might become available to you. A standout score can sometimes even result in a full ride!


Apart from merit-based scholarships, which primarily consider academic achievements, a competitive score can bolster other scholarship applications.


Viewing the SAT not just as an entrance exam but as a potential financial gateway is valuable.


Investing time and effort into SAT prep may not only improve one’s chances of admission into a top college but also ease the financial burden of higher education.

Students SAT goals Journal

9 Tips To Ace The SAT

With the importance it holds in applying to college and its influence on a student’s academic journey, mastering the SAT is crucial. Here are nine tried-and-true strategies to guide you toward that target SAT score:


Start Early: The Proactive Approach

  • Beginning your SAT preparations well in advance allows for a comprehensive review of the material. Early preparation ensures you have ample time to identify and improve upon areas of weakness and capitalize on your strengths.

Use Official Practice Tests: Authentic Experience

  • Utilizing official SAT practice tests, available through the College Board, offers insights into the actual testing experience. These genuine materials familiarize you with the test’s format and question types, ensuring there are no surprises on test day.

Familiarize Yourself With the Test Format: No Surprises

  • The SAT comprises several sections, including math and evidence-based reading and writing. Understanding the structure, the type of questions, and the order of sections can greatly reduce test-day anxiety.

Focus on Your Weaknesses: Personalized Prep

  • A tailored study plan targeting your weaker areas ensures a balanced preparation. Remember, every point increase in your SAT score can help bolster your college application.

Join a Study Group: Collective Knowledge

  • Study groups provide diverse perspectives, allow for collaborative problem-solving, and can offer motivation when the going gets tough. Engage in group discussions, tackle challenging questions together, and share valuable resources.

Take Breaks & Maintain a Study Schedule: The Balanced Approach

  • Consistent study schedules interspersed with regular breaks can enhance retention. This structured approach ensures you’re not cramming and can lead to better good grades and an above-average score.

Consider Hiring a Tutor: Expert Guidance

  • A tutor provides personalized attention, helping to pinpoint specific challenges you may face. Their expertise in standardized test scores and their methodologies can be invaluable in steering your preparation.

Practice Time Management: Beat the Clock

  • Each section of the SAT has a time limit. Regularly practicing under these constraints ensures you can answer questions efficiently without feeling rushed. Remember, a raw score is calculated based on the number of correct answers, so it’s crucial to attempt as many questions as possible.

Stay Calm and Confident: The Mental Game

  • Confidence can be a game-changer. Trust in your preparation, stay focused, and approach the test with a positive mindset. Your mental state can significantly influence performance, so ensure you’re mentally prepared for test day.

While the SAT may seem daunting initially, with the right strategies and preparation, achieving your score goal becomes a tangible reality. Embrace the journey, and remember, every student has the potential to ace the SAT!

Can I get into MIT with a 1300 SAT?

Getting admitted to MIT, or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a highly competitive process. A 1300 SAT score is significantly below the average score for admission to this elite institution. According to college board data and other test score data, most admitted students to MIT have SAT scores well above the 75th percentile, often exceeding 1500.


So, while a 1300 SAT score isn’t impossible to get in with, it would make your application an outlier and you would likely need other exceptionally strong components in your application to be seriously considered.

Has anyone ever gotten a 400 SAT?

Achieving a 400 SAT score, the minimum score possible, is extremely rare. The vast majority of students score well above this mark, even those taking the test for the first time without preparation. The test is designed to measure a range of abilities, and most students demonstrate a level of proficiency well beyond what a 400 would indicate. It’s safe to say that a score of 400 would be a significant concern for any college or university you are applying to, including test-optional schools.

Is 950 a bad SAT score?

Whether a 950 SAT score is “bad” is subjective and depends on your goals and the colleges you’re interested in. According to SAT composite scores, a 950 is below the national average and would not be considered competitive for highly selective schools. However, some community colleges and less selective four-year colleges and universities might accept students with scores around this range.


To improve your score and thus your chances at a wider range of schools, consider implementing an SAT prep plan focused on your weaknesses.