SAT Score Range

When you take the SAT, you will receive a composite score between 400-1600. Whether you score on the low end or the high end of this range, it can be a bit tricky to analyze your score and determine whether or not your score is “good enough.”

This guide will help you understand your score and how colleges use SAT scores to rank applicants:

Analyzing your SAT score

Unlike many other tests, there is not a passing score for you to earn on the SAT. Instead, you will have to consider factors such as percentile scores and mean scores to see how you compare to other students and determine whether or not you should retake the test.

Here are the key factors you’ll need to know about SAT scores to know whether or not you earned a “good” score on the test:

Mean score

When you look at any range of numbers, the mean is the average. According to the College Board website, the mean SAT score based on the 400-1600 score range is 1051.

If you’re not sure how well you did on the SAT, look at your score in comparison to this mean. If your score is below 1000, this means that you did below average on the SAT. If your score is above 1100, this means you did above average on the test.

Percentile score

Your percentile score shows how well you did on the SAT in comparison to other test-takers. For instance, if you score in the 65th percentile, it means that you scored higher than 65% of individuals who took the same test.

Based on your score between 200-800, you will receive percentile scores for each of the two main sections of the SAT: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. You will also receive a percentile score based on your composite SAT score.

To improve your chances of college admission, you want to have high percentile scores.

Here is a chart showing what your estimated percentile ranking would be based on composite SAT scores:

SAT Composite Score (Out of 1600)Estimated Percentile
400- 650 0- 1

Determining your goal score

Now that you know about mean scores and percentile scores, you have all of the tools necessary to determine what your goal score should be for the test.

Because colleges look at your score in comparison to other applicants, you want to make sure that your score is above the mean and at least in the 75th percentile for students who are applying to the colleges you want to attend. 

The College Board website has a College Search tool you can use to see what score you will need to earn in order to fall into the 75th percentile for the average student that attends the schools on your list. 

Write down the scores you need to earn in order to fall into the 75th percentile for each of your top schools and use these scores to determine your goal score.

For instance, if you want to attend the University of Michigan, you will want to have a composite score of at least 1530. For Yale, you will want to earn a 1560 or higher. For Butler University you will want a composite score of at least 1330.

You can then use your goal score to determine whether your SAT score is “good enough.” If you score 1440 on the SAT, for example, your score will be good enough for Butler University, but it will not be good enough for Yale.

If your current score falls below your goal score, you will want to retake the SAT and try some of the tips mentioned below.

Improving your SAT score

If your score isn’t quite where you would like it to be, don’t worry! There are ways for you to raise your SAT score so that you can improve your chances of getting into your dream college.

Instead of throwing in the towel if your SAT score is low, try one of these strategies:

Review 1,000 practice questions

I firmly believe that students can drastically improve their SAT scores if they review 1,000 practice questions.

Note, I didn’t say answer 1,000 questions. I said review.

For this preparation method to work, students need to not only answer 1,000 questions, but they also review the correct answers and learn from their mistakes.

If you neglect to review the questions you miss, it is the same as looking in a mirror, noticing a mistake, and doing nothing about it. It’s not enough for you to look in the mirror and notice a mustard stain on your face before your school’s picture day. You have to take the time to wipe off the stain to make a difference.

Use SAT prep books and the College Board website to find practice questions, and make sure that for each question you miss, you take the time to figure out exactly why you missed that question and how you can avoid answering that type of question incorrectly in the future.

Take an SAT prep course

SAT prep courses, like the ones offered through Prep Expert, are a great way for students to improve their SAT scores.

These courses are helpful for a few reasons:

  • They are taught by experienced instructors who can pass on tips to students
  • They cover every section of the SAT, providing useful strategies for each section along the way
  • They provide opportunities to review practice questions and practice tests that will help students avoid repeating their mistakes
  • They have a set curriculum and pacing guide so that students are able to master all of the test content before test day without worrying about where they should start or how quickly they should move through each concept

If you have no clue where to start studying or you are struggling to learn the material covered on the test, taking an SAT prep course will help you.

Hire a private tutor

Nervous about asking questions in front of other people? Looking for one-on-one instruction to make sure you are completely prepared for the SAT on test day? Interested in a curriculum tailored to your specific strengths and weaknesses?

If so, hiring a private tutor will be the best option for you.

A private tutor will design a curriculum specific to your needs so that you can feel prepared and confident when it’s time to take the SAT. The individualized instruction and guidance you can gain when you work with a private tutor will make a world of difference when you take the test.

Learn how you can sign up for private SAT tutoring or an SAT prep course through Prep Expert when you visit our website.