What is a Good SAT Score?

The SAT, or the Scholastic Assessment Test, is a standardized test that high school students take in the United States as a requirement for college admissions. This test measures a student's math, reading, and writing proficiency.

The higher the score a student gets, the better their chances of getting accepted into their desired college or university. But what is considered a good SAT score?

Understanding the SAT Scoring System

The SAT consists of two sections, each scoring 800 points: the math section and the evidence-based reading and writing section. The total score ranges from 400 to 1600 points. Additionally, students can receive sub-scores for the essay section, which is optional.

National Average SAT Score

The SAT, administered by the College Board, is a standardized test used by colleges and universities in the United States as a part of their admission process. The test consists of three sections: Reading, Writing and Language, and Math. The Math section is scored on a scale of 200-800, while the Reading and Writing sections are combined to give you a final Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) score on a scale of 200-800.

The total SAT score range is from 400-1600, with 1600 being perfect.

As of 2022, the national average SAT score reported by the College Board is 1050, with an EBRW average score of 529 and a Math average score of 538.

Average SAT Scores by State

The average SAT scores by state vary widely based on various factors such as demographics, high school resources, and test preparation. Here is a table of the most recent average SAT scores for all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

State% of students taking the SAT# of Test TakersEBRWMathTotal
District of Columbia100%4,651502484985
New Hampshire81%12,5625305211050
New Jersey63%72,3385435371079
New Mexico42%8,875496480976
New York59%122,1705345331067
North Carolina27%28,6565735621136
North Dakota1%806106031212
Puerto Riconot provided3,167513476989
Rhode Island93%10,667494477971
South Carolina51%27,1115265041030
South Dakota2%1626086111219
Virgin Islands, USnot provided438489451940
West Virginia84%15,265481456938

Source: The College Board

Average SAT Scores of Top Colleges

SAT Scores For Ivy League Schools

SchoolSAT Score (25th-75th Percentile)
Brown University1440-1560
Columbia University1490-1570
Harvard University1460-1570
Yale University1460-1570
University of Pennsylvania1460-1570
Princeton University1450-1570
Dartmouth University1440-1560
Cornell University1400-1540
Source: BestColleges

SAT Scores for Other Popular Schools

SchoolSAT Score (25th-75th Percentile)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)1510-1570
University of Chicago1500-1570
Duke University1470-1570
Vanderbilt University1470-1570
Stanford University1440-1570
New York University1370-1540
University of Michigan1340-1530
University of Texas, Austin1210-1470
Source: BestColleges

National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Score

In September, around one-third of the high-scoring students, totaling more than 16,000, are notified that they have qualified as Semifinalists. To ensure inclusivity, Semifinalists are chosen based on their representation in their respective state. These students represent the highest scoring entrants in each state, and while qualifying scores may vary from state to state and from year to year, all Semifinalists have achieved remarkably high scores.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) provides scholarship application materials to Semifinalists through their high schools. However, to be considered for a National Merit Scholarship, Semifinalists must meet high academic standards and all other requirements detailed in the provided information and advance to Finalist standing.

For more information on what Semifinalists must do, check out the Requirements and Instructions for Semifinalists in the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program.

SAT Score Percentile Ranking

Percentile ranking refers to the percentage of students who scored lower than a particular student. For instance, if a student scored in the 90th percentile, they scored higher than 90% of the students who took the test. A good SAT score is usually in the 75th percentile or higher.

SAT Scores for Scholarships

Many colleges and universities offer scholarships based on SAT scores. For example, the University of Alabama offers full-tuition scholarships to students with an SAT score of 1490 or higher. In general, a good SAT score for scholarships is in the range of 1400 to 1600.

Factors Affecting SAT Scores

Several factors can affect a student's SAT score. These include:

SAT Test Preparation

Students who prepare well for the SAT tend to score higher than those who do not. SAT preparation can involve taking practice tests, working with tutors or study groups, and using study resources.

Test Anxiety

Test anxiety is a common issue that affects many students. It can lead to poor performance on the SAT. Students who experience test anxiety can seek counseling or use relaxation techniques to reduce their anxiety levels.


Demographics, such as race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, can affect SAT scores. Studies have shown that students from certain racial and ethnic backgrounds tend to score lower on the SAT than their peers.

Parental Education Level

Research has found that students whose parents have higher levels of education tend to score higher on the SAT. This may be due

High School Location

A student's high school location can also impact their SAT score. High school students with greater resources and more rigorous academic programs tend to perform better on the SAT.

How to Improve Your SAT Score

While the SAT is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to college applications, it is a big deal. One of the most stressful parts about it? This single test holds a lot of weight. While getting a bad score on the SAT will not end your dreams of attending college, it can limit your options. College admission offices will certainly consider other factors in their admission decisions, such as GPA, extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation, but the higher your SAT score is, the higher the chances are of you getting into the best competitive colleges and qualifying for scholarship opportunities.

If you have already taken the SAT and did not feel satisfied with your score – don’t stress. There’s a reason so many people opt to take the SAT more than once, and it’s because there’s always room for improvement. In fact, the College Board found that 63% of students in the class of 2018 increased their score by taking the SAT a second time. If you are looking for SAT strategies for your second or third SAT attempt, here are some tried and true ways to increase your score.

About the SAT

If you are new to the SAT, here is some basic information about the test below.

What are the SATs?

The SAT is a multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper, standardized test that is widely used for college admissions in the United States. Created by the College Board, the test is meant to measure a high school student’s readiness for college-level courses, and provide colleges with a common data point that can be used to compare all applicants. Each section of the SAT is scored on a 200 to 800 point scale, and the highest possible score you can get is 1600.

How long is the SAT test?

The SAT takes 3 hours to complete. There are two SAT sections, which are composed of Math, and Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing. There is also an optional essay section at the end, which adds an additional 50 minutes to the test.

How much is the SAT test?

The SAT costs $46. However, if you choose to take the essay it will cost $60.

Tips to Improve Your Score

Create a Study Schedule

One of the most important factors to keep in mind when preparing for the dreaded SATs is to not cram. Leaving everything to the last minute, or studying the night before the exam, will not benefit you on the day of the test. It’s best to spread out your SAT studying so all the learned information has time to sink in. On top of your extracurriculars and regular school work, it can be hard to carve out time to study for yet another test. However, try and devote time every week to study for the SATs. If you can’t get to it every day — that’s okay! But once you create a schedule, stick to it, and you won’t regret it.

In terms of the night before the test? If you have time, look over your notes and review some challenging topics. But most importantly, prioritize getting a good night’s rest, eating well, and relaxing, so you are your best self the day of the test.

Take Advantage of Study Materials

Aside from SAT tutoring, there are many materials out there that you can use to self-study. First and foremost, there is certainly no shortage of entire books dedicated to SAT prep. In fact, some bookstores have whole sections that are entirely devoted to test prep for the SAT and ACT. These books are filled with tips, practice questions, test examples, essay prompts, and more. If you don’t want to purchase multiple books, consider checking out your school library. Even if you can’t write directly in these textbooks, you can use the test and essay questions for practicing.

Additionally, there are numerous free resources available online for you to capitalize upon. Just make sure that you are on the lookout for high-quality materials; there are many self-published guides that are created by students, who most likely only have a little more experience than you do. For example, if you need a little extra help with math, search for tips on SAT math topics, or on video tutorial sites.

Memorize Vocabulary and Math Formulas

Now that you are taking the test for the second or third time, memorizing SAT vocabulary and math formulas can go a long way. While you may have SAT strategies and tactics down pat at this point, ingraining particular words and equations into your brain is another way to go the extra mile.

As you certainly know by now, the SAT is big on words, from the critical reading section to the essay portion. Therefore, it’s important to have an extensive lexicon going into the test. Looking up previous SATs, writing down unfamiliar words, and creating notecards are great strategies for nailing the reading section. It’s extremely common for the SAT to recycle words, so there’s always a chance that words that show up on your practice tests will show up on the real exam. Even reading more books can help improve your vocabulary. If you want to take things up a notch, try summarizing passages or chapters in the books you are reading, as this is another important skill that the SAT will test you on.

While some math formulas may be provided for you on the SAT, it’s far better to have a solid understanding of these formulas before sitting down for your test. Valuable time can be lost trying to understand formulas, which could make the difference on whether you finish a section or not.

Find a Mentor or Tutor

Getting an SAT Tutor is a foolproof way to improve your SAT score. The best part about a tutor? Through one-on-one instruction, a tutor can cater your study sessions towards the areas that you need the most help in. There are even tutors that you can hire in a specific SAT subject. If you want to hone in on math tutoring, or more specifically calculus tutoring, you can find an expert that specializes in that subject.

If you are trying to save money for college, rest assured, there are options out there that can cater to students on a budget. Consider asking a teacher, mentor, or guidance counselor from your school who will most likely be willing to coach you at no cost. Some SAT services also offer pro bono tutoring services or scholarships that you can apply for.

Take Practice Tests

Ever heard of the phrase practice makes perfect? Well, that saying certainly applies to the SATs. While it might feel like you aren’t as naturally gifted at a specific subject, mental rehearsal, hands-on practice, and experimentation can optimize your skill development and help you become a more efficient learner, which is especially important on a time-sensitive test.

The best way to practice for the SATs is to take the test itself. Practice tests can be found in almost all SAT prep books. First, begin by taking untimed practice tests. This will help you identify your weak areas, as well as give you a feel for how the test is structured and what types of questions you can expect to encounter. Then, begin taking practice tests under similar conditions to the real test day. The more familiar you are with the SAT itself, the less thrown off you will be by the test and any distractions that occur while you are taking it.


A good SAT score meets the college or university requirements a student is interested in attending. While there is no universal definition of a good SAT score, the average score of admitted students at top colleges can serve as a benchmark. Students can improve their SAT scores by preparing effectively, using study resources, and addressing any test anxiety or demographic-related factors that may impact their performance.


Q1: What is the highest possible score on the SAT?

A1: The highest possible score on the SAT is 1600, with 800 points for math and 800 points for the evidence-based reading and writing sections.

Q2: What is considered a good SAT score for Ivy League schools?

A2: The average SAT score for admitted students at Ivy League schools is around 1400-1570.

Q3: Can a low SAT score prevent a student from getting into college?

A3: While a low SAT score can make getting accepted into certain colleges or universities more difficult, it is not necessarily a guarantee of rejection. Admissions committees consider a variety of factors in addition to SAT scores when making their decisions.

Q4: How long is the SAT?

A4: The SAT is 3 hours and 15 minutes long, not including breaks.

Q5: Is the SAT mandatory for college admissions?

A5: Many colleges and universities in the United States require the SAT or another standardized test as part of their admissions process, but there are some exceptions. It is important to check the admissions requirements of each school you are interested in applying to.

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