Minimum SAT Score For College

When you are applying to different colleges and universities, it is important that you meet the minimum requirements for consideration at each school. While you want to make sure that you have a strong GPA and great essays, you will also want your SAT score to meet the requirements.

While the absolute minimum score you can earn if you take the SAT is a 400, you will want to aim for a higher score if you want to get into a reputable college or university.

The minimum required SAT score is not one-size-fits-all. For example, for a school like Indiana University or Iowa State University, you will want to score at least 1300 on the SAT while for a school like Yale University, you will want a 1500 or above.

As such, it can be hard to determine exactly what score you need to earn in order to improve your chances of getting into a particular school. However, there are ways to figure out a ballpark range of scores that you should strive for depending on the schools on your list.

SAT percentiles

When you visit the website for a college, or you look up a college through College Board, you will typically be provided with a range of SAT scores for different percentiles of their current student population.

You might realize that the top 25% of students scored within a particular range, the middle 50% scored within a different range, and the bottom 25% scored within a different range on the SAT. When you look at the score ranges that align with different percentiles, this will give you an idea of what score you should aim for when you take the SAT.
When you are compiling the list of schools you want to apply to your senior year, make sure you include information about these SAT percentiles so that you can have a target to strive for when you take the SAT.

Applying to colleges based on your SAT results

When you receive your SAT results, you will want to look at your score and see where it falls within the different percentiles for your target schools.

While there are certainly exceptions, as a rule of thumb, the minimum score you should have when applying to a particular college should fall in the SAT score range for the middle 50% of their students. If your SAT score is below this range, although it won’t be impossible, you will have a tough time getting admitted. If your score is within or above this range, you have a much better chance of acceptance.

Try to separate your college choices into safety schools, match schools, and reach schools. Make sure your SAT score is in the top 25% percentile for your safety schools, the high end of the middle 50% for your match schools, and the bottom end of the middle 50% for your reach schools.

What to do when your score is not high enough

If your SAT score falls short of the minimum range for your dream school, it does not mean that you should give up on applying to college. Don’t throw in the towel too quickly!

Here are a few steps you can take to help improve your chances of getting accepted:

  • Retake the SAT. Your SAT score isn’t a one-and-done deal. You can retake it several times throughout your junior and senior years in order to improve your score. If you didn’t earn a great score your first time around, try hiring a private SAT prep tutor or taking a prep course to help you earn a higher score.
  • Switch to the ACT. While most selective colleges require you to take a standardized exam before applying to their school, they typically do not specify which one you take. If the SAT is not your cup of tea, try taking the ACT instead. The ACT has different sections and a different format, and you might find that you will do better on the ACT instead (or vice versa!)
  • Consider schools that don’t require standardized tests. There are many schools, especially now due to COVID-19, that don’t require students to submit SAT or ACT scores with their application. Consider applying to one of these schools if your score is low after multiple attempts.
  • Re-evaluate your college list. If you have taken the SAT and ACT multiple times, worked with a private tutor, and completed prep courses, and your scores are still not close to the middle 50% or even the bottom 25% of the schools on your list, you should consider re-evaluating your college list.

If you want to significantly increase your chances of earning a high SAT score, consider signing up for online, private SAT tutoring or SAT prep classes through Prep Expert. Learn more and enroll today when you visit our website.