What is a Good SAT Score?

High school students focused on college are often concerned about getting good SAT scores. The better the SAT scores, the better chance a student has of being admitted into a college and getting a merit-based scholarship. Getting a good score involves knowing how to take the test, what the test involves and being properly prepared to take the test. Many students are unaware of how the scoring works or what is even considered a good score. Determining what is and isn’t a good score is determined by a few factors.

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What is a Good SAT Score?

Knowing what a good SAT score is can be very important to a student and can also help reduce stress. The SAT scores range from 400 to 1,600 with 200-800 points given for each of the two subscores. One subscore is for the combined Reading and Writing, and the other subscore is for math. Since the highest score is 1,600, a student doesn’t have to have a 1,600 for it to be considered as a good score.

When the scores are calculated, they’re not just based on how one student performed or even on how ten students performed. They’re based on how students across the country are performing and what type of scores the majority of the students have. It’s also measured in terms of a percentile. This means that a student’s score is based on what percentage the score is compared to every other student in the country. The 50th-percentile SAT score, which is the average score, ranges from 1,050 and 1,060. Students who school above that can be considered as having good scores.

Average Scores

While many people don’t like being considered average, being average can be good when it comes to the SAT score. Since the lowest score is 400 and the highest is 1,600, the average score for 2017 was 1,060 according to Princeton Review. The average score for the combined reading and writing was 533, and the average score for the math was 527. They take the combined averages for both to get the average final score.


When a student gets his or her SAT score, the student will get not just a composite score but also a percentile ranking that ranges from 1-99. This number is a percentage and not a grade. The student will get a percentile ranking for the overall SAT score and the two subscore sections. The percentile score tells the student how he or she did compared to everyone in the country who took the test.

For instance, a student who gets a composite percentile of 65 has scored higher than 65% of all other students who took the test. A student with a percentile score of 45 on the math section did 45% better than other students on the math portion. Percentiles are important because they tell a college how a student performs academically compared to other students. College Board offers a complete list of SAT percentiles.

Compare to ACT Scores

Some students choose to take the SAT while others choose to take the ACT. Their choices may be based on the college, their location or just a personal choice. As similar as the SAT and ACT are, they also have many differences. Some of the differences, such as time requirements or content of each test, can be enough to make a student choose one test or another. Some students choose to take both tests and submit the best scores.

In order to know which scores are actually the best scores, the student should know how the SAT and ACT scores compare to each other because they’re not the same. The SAT scores range from 400 to 1,600 while the ACT scores range from 1-36. Looking at the final scores and comparing them can give students an idea of which score will be more beneficial and which one should be submitted to the school. Below are a few SAT composite scores followed by what they would convert to as an ACT composite score.

• SAT Score 1570-1600 = ACT Score 36

• SAT Score 1420-1440 = ACT Score 32

• SAT Score 1300-1320 = ACT Score 28

• SAT Score 1200-1220 = ACT Score 25

• SAT Score 1060-1090 = ACT Score 21

• SAT Score 920-950 = ACT Score 17

• SAT Score 780-820 = ACT Score 14

• SAT Score 590-610 = ACT Score 9

Comparing the scores can give students an idea as to which score would actually be the better of the two. For instance, if a student got a total SAT score of 1065 and an ACT score of 25, the student would be better off submitting the ACT score. College Board offers a full SAT and ACT conversion chart for students to use when deciding which test to take or which scores to submit.

Check Out Schools

When students decide to go to college, the first things they often consider are the location of the college, their career goals, and cost of the college. A common mistake is not taking into consideration the importance of getting good SAT scores. Once they’ve determined they want to go to college, they should check out different schools that offer their major and learn what the colleges’ policies are regarding SAT scores.

The scores they receive from students can affect not just their admission status but also their eligibility for scholarships. Some colleges require students to submit all their SAT scores, so if a student did poorly in a certain area, it’s not something the student can hide from the college. Most colleges require students to send in at least one SAT or ACT score with their applications.

It’s important that students find out how colleges handle multiple scores, especially if they’ve taken the SAT more than once. Some colleges do not require students to submit all their scores, so students can send in only their best scores. Students should always check out their potential colleges and get all the facts regarding SAT requirements.

How well a student does in college is often attributed to how prepared the student was he or she took the entrance exam. While getting a good SAT score cannot guarantee a perfect college experience, but it’s a great start. Having an idea of what a good score is and setting a goal can make it much easier for the student to find success taking the SAT.