What is a good SAT score? First off, I want to begin by prefacing that “good” is a very subjective term. There’s no exact answer to the above question because it depends upon the requirements of each individual college setting out their own quotas for good SAT scores. A 1300 score might be a good score for one student BUT not for another. For this article’s purpose, we must evaluate the scores as best we can. We are going to break it down into 3 components to hopefully give you a better understanding of how to rate your score.
Why is the SAT score important to colleges?
The SAT along with the ACT is the standard of achievement in secondary education throughout America. [NOTE this means that colleges compare good SAT scores to grades and class rank. They also use AP test scores, IB test scores, high school GPA, etc.] One’s SAT score serves as a measure of readiness for rigorous college curriculum…but it also tells some other things about you too. Your ability to score well on this standardized test demonstrates your efforts at self-improvement and actually, indicates the amount of effort you will likely employ in certain specific subjects during your four years at whichever esteemed university (or community college) accepts you later on down the road. This is what The College Board (creator of the SAT tests) wants you to think about the SAT tests. In actuality, we believe the tests to be viewed differently by colleges.
The real reason that colleges put importance on standardized tests like the SAT and the ACT is to “standardize” the students who are applying for their university. GPAs are set by the individual high schools and with millions of students across the country and world vying for space at an American University, they want to ensure students know the material and are college-ready. They cannot just trust the class rank, essay, and GPAs alone, they must have a benchmark to hold all students to. It might not be a perfect system but it is the best one we have so far. It is the best solution to compare grades from public schools in different states, regions, private schools, and even homeschoolers. Until there is a better equalizer, it looks like these 2 tests are here to stay.
A good SAT score won’t make up for slacking off in high school. If you do poorly in high school, your SAT scores will not save you when it comes to college admissions. Scores are important but they are not the only criteria schools are looking for in the quest for an ideal candidate. Make sure you are a well-rounded student to increase your chances of admissions and scholarships.
What is the scoring range for the SAT?
The general scoring range for the SAT is between 400-1600pts. Some people ask, why would you start at 400pts for a test. Fun fact: you get 400pts just for your name! But the real score comes from 2 main sections. It’s the sum of your scores on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (ERW) section and the Math section, which each have a score range of 200−800. As I mentioned earlier in the article, good SAT scores range from individual schools to individual schools. The general idea of “good” or “bad” SAT scores depends on how each college/university sets up its specific ranges. For our purposes today…we will look at good SAT scores as reaching anywhere from the high 600s to the low 700s. That’s without getting into any more granular breakdown of good SAT scores depending on your gender or race and where you attend high school.
Depending on the college, different SAT scores might be good enough to get you accepted into their academic programs. Every school has its own scale that they measure applicants to. Let’s start by figuring out what the average SAT score is. According to 2020 College Board Annual Report, the average SAT score is 1051 with the scoring of 528 on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section and 523 on the Math section. That means if you score above 1060, you are higher than the average student. Now that doesn’t mean that a 1060 is a good score either, it just means that you are above the national average.
Is my SAT score good enough for colleges?
This is again going to be subjective, meaning that it depends on the individual student’s college ambitions and what other educational metrics you have working for you. Let’s explain:
Say for instance we have a student that has a high GPA (3.75-4 unweighted), is in the top 10% of their class, but they have high ambitions and want a top 50 university. A slightly above national average score of a 1070 is not going to cut it. They are going to need to have a very high and competitive score geared to the school they are looking to apply to; probably closer to around 1510 just to compete. When we are talking about the top 50 schools, most students applying already have high metrics so every point counts!
Let’s take another example. We have a student who is in the top 25% of their class, GPA is a 3.4 unweighted cumulative but they have their sights set on a smaller regional college. They might be able to be accepted with an 1100 on their SAT because the college’s requirements aren’t as competitive. So to this student, 1100 is a “good” score or maybe just a good enough score and to the other student who has higher ambitions, it wouldn’t meet their “good” score requirement. This is why we say, scores are subjective and are going to be different for every student based on their goals.
Most people talk about good SAT scores with respect to college admissions. Here at Beasley College Prep, admissions are great but what we aim for is high SAT scores for optimal college funding. Yes, you can get paid for a good SAT score in the form of merit-based scholarships. That’s really where we see the value of high test scores. For many universities that offer merit scholarships, the dollar amount is directly attached to the increase in test scores. Let’s look at the University of Kentucky non-residents:
Now what we are seeing is that test-optional standards are being factored in temporarily to get us through this challenging time. Again, we see this as a temporary factor and not the regular moving forward. GPA is still playing a factor but test scores are still very much important and can help students who may have struggled for a semester and dropped their cumulative GPA down while they were in high school. Don’t neglect these test scores. Get yourself into a formal test prep, start studying early, and set yourself up for college admissions and scholarships!
Our Professional Advice:
For our students, what we shoot for is a minimum of 1400 and we think that should be your goal too. We realize that not every student is going to be able to hit that mark especially if we get them in their senior year but those are the numbers where we can start competing for the big admissions and scholarships. If we have a student that has a lower unweighted GPA, we might have them compensate for the GPA with higher test scores- closer to a 1500. There is no one-size-fits-all in our program or for college planning in general. Every situation is different and unique. We have to take ALL factors into consideration. If you have any questions about test prep and would like a free consult with one of our coaches, please sign up here!