What Is a Good SAT Score? Finding Your Goal Score 2023
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A good SAT score will depend on your goals. Learn how to identify the target SAT score you'll need as you set about applying to college.
The SAT is just one part of your college application and is increasingly considered optional. A good SAT score will depend on what you want to achieve, whether that's getting into your dream school or earning a merit scholarship. In other words, what constitutes a good SAT score will change based on your goals. Generally speaking, earning a score of 1350 in 2019 would put you among the top 10 percent of test takers, according to the College Board .
In this article, we'll go over average SAT scores in the United States and how to find your target score based on the colleges and universities you intend to apply to. But before we do, it’s helpful to understand how the SAT is scored:
Your total SAT score will be between 400 and 1,600 points
There are two primary sections, Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (ERW), and each one is worth 200 to 800 points.
The percentile shows how your score compares to other students' scores.
The benchmark score indicates college readiness—or the likelihood that you'll pass first-year classes.
4 ways to measure a good SAT score
A good score is one that helps you get into your target school or supports your case for a merit scholarship. When you receive your SAT scores, you'll also receive information about how your score compares to other students' scores around the country.
There are a few ways to think about your score in light of this information.
1. Target school average SAT scores
A good SAT score is a score that helps you get into the college or university you want—and that score can be different for each school.
It's a good rule of thumb to achieve an SAT score that's higher than the middle 50 percent of scores. For example, half of the students admitted to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor had an SAT score of between 1360 and 1580 . This is much higher than the national average total SAT score, so if you wanted to apply and be competitive, it might help if your score fell within that range—or higher.
You won't learn about your target school's average SAT scores on your SAT report. Instead, once you get your report, you can cross-reference your score with those published by the school. Below, we discuss how to find your target school SAT score.
2. Average SAT score
According to the College Board, the US national average total SAT score for the class of 2021 was 1088. The ERW national average score was 541, while the average score for the Math section was 538 .
Average scores can be useful in comparing the test performance of one entire graduating class to another's, but it's not necessarily the most helpful measure for an individual test-taker. For that, you'd want to consider your SAT score percentile.
3. SAT score percentiles
Your score report will include two percentiles to help you compare your performance with that of other test takers. If your score percentile is 50, that means 50 percent of test takers scored at or below your score.If your score percentile is 75, that means 75 percent of test takers scored at or below your score.
Nationally Representative Sample Percentile: This measures your score against all US students in grades 11 and 12, weighted to include those who did not take the test.
SAT User Percentile: This measures your score against real scores of students from the past three graduating classes who took the current SAT test during high school.
You can see these percentiles for your total score, as well as your ERW and Math section scores. This lets you quickly see how you did in comparison to your peers.
For reference, here's a chart showing the SAT User Percentiles for the total, ERW, and Math scores in 2021 .
|SAT User Percentile||Total SAT score||ERW score||Math score|
|29 and below||920 and below||460 and below||450 and below|
4. Benchmark scores
Each of your section scores will include a benchmark. This will show up as a color—green, yellow, or red—meant to indicate college readiness.The colors break down as follows:
Green: On track
Yellow: Close to being on track
Red: Need to strengthen skills
A green benchmark score indicates a 75 percent chance of earning a C or higher in a first-semester college course in algebra, statistics, pre-calculus, or calculus (for Math), or history, literature, social sciences, or writing (for ERW).
Use these benchmarks as a guideline for what academic areas to work on. With the right perspective and preparation, you can find success in college no matter your benchmark score.
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How to find your target school SAT score in 3 steps
Arguably, the more important SAT measurement is your target school SAT score. Here’s how to find that information:
1. Make a list of schools you’d like to attend.
Write down the names of 6-10 schools you’re interested in applying to. Try to include a mix of dream, target, and safety schools.
If money and qualifications weren’t issues, where would you want to attend? These are your dream schools, also known as reach schools.
Target schools are those where your grades, test scores, and class rank are similar to the average for the most recently admitted class.
You should be happy to attend your safety schools, but they should also be schools that you can afford and that you feel confident you’ll be admitted to.
If you don’t know how to categorize your schools just yet, that’s okay. You can do this in the next step.
2. Find each school’s middle 50 percent.
Search for the name of the school and “SAT score range” to find the middle 50 percent of SAT scores. This represents the range of scores between the 25th and 75th percentiles for the most recent class of admitted students. In other words, this is what’s left when you throw out the top and bottom scores.
Write down these scores for each of your schools. It may be helpful to record the ranges for the Math and ERW sections as well.
3. Identify your goal SAT score from the list.
Now arrange your schools in order of these score ranges, from highest to lowest. The schools at the top of the list would likely be your dream schools, with the target and safety schools in the middle and at the bottom of the list.
The high end of the range (the 75th percentile score) for the school highest on your list is your target SAT score. If you can get a score at or near the 75th percentile for the most competitive school on your list, chances are you’ll be competitive at the other schools too.
Tip: Set a goal to score at or above the 75th percentile of SAT scores for the school you want to attend.
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How can I improve my SAT score?
Whether you’re thinking ahead toward the SAT or want to improve upon an existing score, use the tips below to get started. We've also compiled a longer list of 13 tips to prepare and take the SAT.
Take a practice test like the PSAT.
Prepare for success on the SAT by taking the Preliminary SAT, or PSAT, as a sophomore or junior. You’ll get a feel for the test format and types of questions, and your scores can show you areas to focus on as you prepare for the SAT.
Tip: Taking the PSAT as a high school student qualifies you for the National Merit Scholarship. Each year, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation awards 7,500 scholarships to students that are among the highest-scoring entrants in each state.
Work on your weaknesses.
Focus on the areas where you received the lowest scores on your practice test. If you scored at or near your target score for the ERW section but fell short on your Math score, you’ll want to dedicate more of your practice time to math questions.
Plan to spend at least two to three months preparing for the SAT each time you take it. You have options when it comes to how you prepare, and many of them are free:
Take a free, full-length practice test.
Complete the free, interactive Official SAT Practice.
Enroll in a SAT prep course.
Hire a tutor.
Buy a study guide or check one out from the local library.
Retake the test.
You can take the SAT as many times as you want. This means that if your first score has room for improvement, you have the opportunity to improve it by retaking the test. The College Board recommends taking the SAT at least twice, once during the spring of your junior year and again in the fall of your senior year. For some schools, you can choose which scores to include on your score report. Others require that you submit all of your scores.
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What if my SAT scores are still too low?
Your SAT score is only one part of your college application—and it may not even be mandatory. Over 1,800 schools in the US promised to make college entrance exams optional in 2023 .
If your scores are lower than your target score, you still have options. (And remember, the scorers on the lower end of the middle 50 for each school on your list also got in).
Strengthen your application.
Schools look at more than just your SAT score when determining college admissions. If you feel your scores are lower than you’d like them to be, spend some time working on the other areas of your application.
Talk to your teachers about how you can improve your grades.
Ask for strong letters of recommendation.
Spend time polishing your application essay.
Start a new club at your school, volunteer, or look for an internship to help your extracurriculars stand out.
Adjust your college list.
As you get ready to apply to schools, consider adjusting your list. Add one or two new target schools that you’d like to attend where your scores fall within the middle 50. You may even choose to add another safety school where your score is near or above the 75th percentile ranking.
Consider the ACT.
Many schools accept ACT or SAT scores, and it’s not uncommon for students to perform better on one than the other. Neither the ACT or SAT is easier than the other, but they may have differences that make one of the two easierfor you.
For example, the ACT puts more emphasis on verbal skills, while the SAT may be better suited to emphasize math and logic skills. If possible, take both tests in your junior year so, then retake your preferred exam in the fall of your senior year.
Read more: What Is a Good ACT Score in 2021? Finding Your Goal Score
As you apply for colleges, consider whether an online bachelor's degree from a world-class institution on Coursera may be a good fit for your lifestyle and goals. Many degree programs do not require college entrance exam scores. Plus, you can pursue your degree from anywhere without having to relocate.
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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
This depends on the school. It might be a good idea to submit your SAT score to a test-optional school if:
- Your score falls near or above the 75th percentile for that school
- Your SAT score is stronger than other parts of your application, such as your GPA
- You’re interested in a merit scholarship and an SAT score is required for consideration
Here’s a look at the middle 50 score ranges for each Ivy League school:
|School name||Middle 50 range|
|Harvard University||1460 to 1580|
|Yale University||1470 to 1560|
|Princeton University||1440 to 1570|
|Columbia University||1450 to 1560|
|Brown University||1420 to 1550|
|Dartmouth College||1450 to 1550|
|University of Pennsylvania||1440 to 1560|
|Cornell University||1420 to 1540|
*All data from PrepScholar (October 2021)
The College Board recommends that you begin test prep two to three months before your test date. By starting to study earlier, you could feel more confident (and perform better) on the exam.
You can take the SAT as many times as you want. It’s a good idea to take it at least twice, once in your junior year and again in the fall of your senior year. Taking the test more than once could give you the opportunity to improve your score. Many colleges consider your highest SAT score for admission.
Score Choice lets you choose which scores you send to colleges. If you take the SAT more than once, you can choose which scores to add to your score report. Some schools and scholarship programs require that you send all your scores. Be sure to find out ahead of time from the admissions office.
Some schools consider SAT scores using a process called superscoring. If a school you’re applying to uses superscoring, it means that they’ll combine your highest Math section score with your highest ERW score, even if they were from different test dates. Contact an admissions counselor to find out if a school uses superscoring.
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A good SAT Score for 2023 will likely be close to 1050 as well. In general, any SAT score that puts you in the top half, or top 50%, of test takers is considered “good.” The higher your score is above that middle marker, the better it's considered.What is a perfect SAT score in 2023? ›
The scoring range for the SAT is from 400—1600, and the higher the score, the better.What should my goal SAT score be? ›
While there's no standard for a "good" SAT score, it's best to aim for at least 1200. More importantly, aim for an SAT score that's within or higher than your school's middle 50%. The SAT essay will no longer be offered unless your state participates in SAT School Day.Will 2023 SAT be easier? ›
Many of the changes to the SAT's format and content are designed to make the exam more accessible for students. The digital SAT will be shorter, reading passages will be more concise, questions will be more direct, and students will have access to a wider range of digital tools.Is 1060 a good SAT score 2023? ›
With this definition, in very basic terms, a good SAT score for 2023 could be anything above 1060. This was the average national composite SAT score for the graduating class of 2021.Do colleges look at SAT 2023? ›
The short answer is that the vast majority of schools are NOT requiring SAT test scores for the class of 2023 but that can absolutely change for those students entering fall 2024 and later.Do colleges care about SAT scores 2023? ›
Current figures estimate around 80% of four-year colleges won't require standardized tests for fall 2023 admissions, so the burning question remains: are SAT/ACT scores still important? The shorter answer is: yes. Just because scores are optional, it doesn't mean they aren't still important.What is an impressive SAT score? ›
A 1350 puts you in the top 10%, making it a strong score. A 1400 is in the 93rd percentile, the top 7% of all test takers. And any score 1500+ puts you in the coveted top 1-2%! By contrast, anything lower than a 1050 is a below-average score.What is a realistic SAT score? ›
A 1300 is an admirable SAT goal and it's attainable if you're starting at an 1150. But if your initial test score is a 900, a 400-point score increase is not very realistic. Sure, it can be done, but the average student does not have 40-hours a week to invest in SAT prep for months at a time.What SAT score is good for top colleges? ›
It depends. For the Ivy League, competitive scores range between 1500-1550. For other highly competitive schools, it's above 1400. 1300 and above will make you a competitive applicant for most other public universities and private universities.
Admission rates for 2022-2023 have not been announced but are expected to remain just as low. Given this competitive environment, admission experts say students shouldn't assume they'll be a 'shoe-in' at any school.Which SAT time is easiest? ›
Which SAT® is the easiest? Myth: The March SAT is the easiest SAT test date. Fact: There's no such thing as “the easiest SAT test date.” While it's true that some versions of the SAT are easier than others, it's false that some test dates are predictably easier than others.How to study for 2023 SAT? ›
- Take Practice Tests. It's a well-known fact that taking multiple practice tests is a critical step in preparing for the SAT. ...
- Determine A Score Goal. ...
- Develop A Study Plan. ...
- Practice Test-Taking Strategies. ...
- Take Breaks and Stay Motivated.
|SAT Test Date*||Registration Deadline||Deadline for Changes, Regular Cancellation, and Late Registration|
|Aug 26, 2023||July 28, 2023 Register||August 15, 2023|
|Oct 7, 2023||Sep 7, 2023 Register||Sep 26, 2023|
|Nov 4, 2023||Oct 5, 2023 Register||Oct 24, 2023|
|Dec 2, 2023||Nov 2, 2023 Register||Nov 21, 2023|
Is SAT required for Harvard? Ans. Harvard University follows a test optional admission process. The university is looking forward to allowing students to apply for 2023 admission without SAT or ACT scores.What is a good first SAT score? ›
In terms of what makes for a good score based on the percentile chart above, anything above 1050 would be considered above average, with a score of 1200 being a good SAT score. A score above 1050 should be considered a great starting point for students taking the exam for the first time.Do Ivy Leagues require SAT 2023? ›
All eight Ivy League schools will continue to have test-optional policies for the 2022-23 application cycle. While high SAT scores are an asset, they're just one metric that colleges consider. Students should aim to score in the 75th percentile among admitted students.Does SAT have essay 2023? ›
In June 2021, the College Board opted to discontinue the SAT essay. Now, only students in a few states and school districts still have access to — and must complete — the SAT essay. This requirement applies to some students in the SAT School Day program, for instance, among other groups.How many questions are on the SAT 2023? ›
The SAT gives you 3 hours (180 minutes) to answer a total of 154 questions. The ACT, however, is only 2 hours, 55 minutes but has 215 questions to answer.Do colleges care about old SAT scores? ›
Some Schools Set an SAT Score Expiration Date
Some colleges may not accept scores that are five years old or older. If you're worried the college you want to apply to won't accept your old SAT scores, be sure to double-check the admissions requirements.
SAT scores also show a positive relationship with retention to the second year at the same institution. As SAT scores increase, the likelihood that a student will return for a second year also increases.Which colleges require SAT essay 2023? ›
- Benedictine University.
- City University London.
- Delaware State University.
- DeSales University.
- Dominican University of California.
- Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.
- Howard University.
- John Wesley University.
The average national SAT score is between 1050 and 1100 every year (on purpose), putting an 1150 at an above-average 67th percentile — that's a score to be proud of! It means that you scored higher than 67% of all other test takers.How rare is a perfect SAT score? ›
How Many People Get A Perfect SAT Score? Yearly, less than 1% of all test-takers get a perfect score. That's hundreds out of nearly three million people who take the test.What is the most average SAT score? ›
The average total SAT score was 1050 in 2022, the lowest since the test changed formats in 2016. From 2006-2016, the SAT was scored on a 2400-point scale. It returned to a 1600-point scale in 2017. The current average SAT score of 1050 reflects the scores of students who graduated from high school in 2022.What is considered a bad SAT score? ›
What's a Bad SAT Score? A score of 1040 or below is considered below average for SAT test-takers. A score of 890 or below puts you in the bottom quarter of test-takers. This means that if you scored a 1040 or below, you should consider retaking the exam to improve your chances of getting into a good college.How much can test prep raise your SAT score? ›
If the number of tutoring hours is increased and the process is extended across several months, then a student may expect 4-6 points of ACT improvement and 120-180 points of SAT improvement. While they do happen, improvements of more than 7 points on the ACT or 200 points on the SAT are relatively rare.Is it normal to do bad on your first SAT? ›
Nobody aces the SAT on his or her first try (okay maybe a very, very few exceptions here but you get the point). 2. Since the SAT tests a mix of basic and advanced concepts, some students struggle because they encounter material they may have not yet covered in the classroom.What did Elon Musk score on SAT? ›
Elon Musk reacts to GPT-4 scoring 93% on SAT exams.What is the lowest SAT score colleges will accept? ›
Less selective public institutions, as well as many small liberal arts colleges, regularly accept applicants in the 950-1050 range. Public universities in your state might also accept residents with scores on the lower end of the scale depending on their policies and your other qualifications.
Harvard University's SAT scores for admitted students range from 1480 - 1580, with an average score of 1530. Although SAT scores are optional, we recommend that students aim for a good SAT score of at least 1530 to be competitive in the admissions process at Harvard University.Which year is the hardest for college students? ›
Although junior year often holds the most challenging classes, it is not always the most difficult. Students are able to take what they have learned from their previous two years of schooling to better prepare themselves for the more strenuous classes.What is the hardest college to get into in 2023? ›
Harvard, Stanford and Princeton, unsurprisingly, are America's toughest colleges to get into in 2023, according to Niche's most recent rankings.What are college admissions looking for in 2023? ›
One of the most significant trends in college admissions for 2023 is the continued shift toward test-optional admissions. This trend began in 2020 due to challenges of accessing test centers and concerns about health and safety.What is the best month to take the SAT? ›
It's generally best to take the SAT in the fall or spring of your junior year and then again in the fall of your senior year. The specific month you choose depends on your outside commitments and how much time you want to prepare for the exam.How many hours of studying is enough for SAT? ›
As a rule of thumb, here is the amount of time students need to improve their SAT scores: 10+ hours of studying to maintain their score. 20+ hours of studying for a score improvement of 10-100 points. 40+ hours of studying for a score improvement of 100-150 points.Which SAT is usually the hardest? ›
In online forums, students also tend to identify Test #3 as the hardest of the official practice tests, so there truly seems to be a clear consensus. It's important to remember though that a hard practice test can actually be a great resource!How long do you need to prepare for SAT? ›
Studying for the SAT in a month is possible, though it's recommended that you spend 10 to 20 hours per week over the course of two or three months prepping for the SAT.When should you start preparing for SAT? ›
In general, we recommend starting your SAT prep early. About three months before your test should give you enough of a buffer to try a few study approaches and get comfortable with the test content.What is the best way to self study for the SAT? ›
If you have 4-6 weeks to prep, start by timing individual passages, next time full sections, and then full practice tests. If you have fewer than 4 weeks until your SAT, do full sections timed, understanding that the more comprehensive your mastery of content and strategy, the better you'll be at pacing.
The SAT Math test consists of three main content areas: Heart of Algebra. Problem-solving and Data Analysis. Passport to Advanced Math.How many times can you retake the SAT? ›
Students can take the SAT as many times as they want. We recommend that they take it at least twice—in the spring of their junior year and the fall of their senior year. Most students get a higher score the second time, and most colleges consider a student's highest SAT score when making admission decisions.Why are colleges dropping SAT? ›
California State University, the largest-four year university system in the country, is poised to eliminate SAT and ACT standardized tests from its undergraduate admissions process, following a trend in higher education over concerns that the exams are unfair to minority and low-income students.What is the lowest SAT score Harvard accepted? ›
There's no absolute SAT requirement at Harvard, but they really want to see at least a 1460 to have a chance at being considered. Exclusive: Want to learn how to improve your SAT score by 160 points? Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score.What GPA does Harvard need? ›
The GPA requirements for Harvard University are between 3.9 to 4.1. You will need an incredibly high GPA and will likely be graduating at the top of their class in order to get into Harvard University.What GPA is required for Yale? ›
Yale University does not have a strict minimum GPA requirement for undergraduate admissions. However, admitted students typically have very high GPAs, ranging from 3.8 to 4.0, with an average GPA of 3.9.
Scores in the 50th percentile (1050 and above) are generally average, while scores in the 75th (1200 and above) and 90th percentiles (1350 and above) are good and excellent.What is the lowest good SAT score? ›
While there's no standard for a "good" SAT score, it's best to aim for at least 1200. More importantly, aim for an SAT score that's within or higher than your school's middle 50%.What is the best lowest SAT score? ›
The highest SAT score you can possibly earn is 1600. The lowest SAT score is 400.Is 1450 a good SAT score 2023? ›
Is a Score of 1450 (96th Percentile) Good? Earning a score of 1450 on the SAT indicates an exceptional performance on the exam and places you in the upper 95th percentile of all students nationwide.
A score of 1350 would put you in the top 10% of test takers and help make your application competitive at more selective schools.Is 1300 a good SAT score 2023? ›
Is a 1300 Sat Score (87th Percentile) Good? Yes. A 1300 on the SAT indicates good performance in all sections of the exam and places you around the 87th percentile of all test takers, meaning you scored higher than 87% of all test takers.Is 1100 a good SAT score 2023? ›
Is An 1100 SAT Score (58th Percentile) Good? A score of 1100 on the SAT puts you at the 58th percentile, meaning you scored higher than 58% all 2 million+ test takers. Earning an 1100 makes you eligible to apply to most colleges and universities as a decent candidate.Is 1450 enough for Stanford? ›
You have the best chance of being admitted to Stanford if your SAT is at least 1450 and your GPA is at least a 3.9.Can I get into MIT with a 1450? ›
MIT SAT Requirements
You must at least have an SAT score of 1500 to have a chance of being considered for admission to MIT.
For example, if students aim to get into Ivy League Schools, they must have SAT scores around 1470 to 1490. In addition, the average SAT of MIT is nearly 1500. Similarly, Harvard University accepts students with an SAT score of above 1500.Can I get into Harvard with a 1400 SAT? ›
While a 1400 makes you eligible to apply to places such as Harvard, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania, it won't make you a competitive candidate.Is 1400 SAT enough for Harvard? ›
Can you get into Harvard with a 1400 SAT? Harvard applicants with a combined SAT score of 1300-1400 and an average GPA of 3.5-4.0 have a better chance of being accepted to Harvard University.Can I get into Harvard with a 1350 SAT score? ›
A 1350 SAT score will preclude you from getting into more selective schools such as Harvard, Yale, MIT, Brown, and others of the same caliber. However, it'll put you in the running for Georgia Tech, Boston University, Claremont McKenna, University of Virginia, and Reed.Can I get into NYU with a 1300 SAT? ›
The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1370, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 1510. In other words, a 1370 places you below average, while a 1510 will move you up to above average. There's no absolute SAT requirement at NYU, but they really want to see at least a 1370 to have a chance at being considered.
What SAT Scores Do I Need to Get Into Princeton? The vast majority of admitted students at Princeton score above 1500 on the SAT. The average SAT composite score of Princeton's admitted applicants is 1515.Can I get into Duke with 1300 SAT score? ›
Students that get into Duke University have an SAT score between 1510–1560 or an ACT score of 34–35.Can I get into an Ivy League with a 1100 SAT? ›
It is unlikely to get accepted into an Ivy League school with a 1100 SAT score, but it is not impossible. Ivy League schools do not have any requirements for SAT scores. However, because Ivy League schools are so competitive, you need an exceptional SAT score to get accepted.Can you get into MIT with a 1100 SAT score? ›
The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1500, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 1570. In other words, a 1500 places you below average, while a 1570 will move you up to above average. There's no absolute SAT requirement at MIT, but they really want to see at least a 1500 to have a chance at being considered.How rare is a 1500 SAT? ›
A 1500 puts you in nearly the 95th percentile of all 1.7 million test takers.