A few weeks ago we wrote about how the SAT is scored. But what is a good SAT score in 2020? What SAT scores do Ivy Leagues look for? And how do you figure out what score to aim for?
In this post, we’ll refresh you on the basics of how the SAT is scored and walk you through what makes up a good SAT score.
How is the SAT Scored?
We’ll keep this quick: your total SAT score is formed by adding up your two section scores, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math, which are scored out of 200-800. Your total score is on a scale of 400-1600.
You can read more in detail about how the SAT is scored here.
What is the Average SAT Score in 2020?
To figure out what a good SAT score is you have to know what the average SAT score is – generally, any score above average is a “good score!”
More than 2 million students in the class of 2019 took the SAT, and their average SAT score was 1059. The average math score is 528, and the average Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (ERW) score is 531.
About 7% of students in the class of 2019 scored between 1400-1600 on the SAT.
(Because the odds are so small and hard to control, this is just our friendly reminder that if you’re scoring really high on the SAT (like 1450 or above), then it’s really more strategic to focus on other aspects of your application, like the essays, than it is to focus your efforts on getting a 1600 on the SAT!)
That being said, the higher your SAT score is, the more competitive an applicant you will be. Take a look at the 2019 SAT score percentiles:
2019 Score Percentiles
|Percentile||Total Score||ERW Score||Math Score|
|90%||1340||670 ERW||690 Math|
|75%||1210||610 ERW||600 Math|
|50%||1050||530 ERW||520 Math|
|25%||900||450 ERW||440 Math|
We see from this table that you can score a 1340 and be in the top 10% of scorers! Furthermore, scoring a 1210 sets you above 75% of SAT test-takers.
What SAT Score Do I Need to Get into a Top 10 School?
It’s no secret that the top 10 universities in the US have really high test score expectations. In fact, the average SAT section scores for a Yale student are 720-770 on the ERW section and 740-790 on the Math section.
The most accurate way to determine what SAT score to aim for is to visit the school’s admissions page. See if they have information about the average test scores of admitted students and the expectations around standardized test scores. It’s best to go straight to the source for this information.
There’s no denying that test scores are important, especially when applying to a highly competitive school. But remember, your SAT score is just one part of the college admissions equation. Don’t forget about the role your grades, extracurriculars, and personal essays play in completing your college application – these factors can supplement a lower SAT score.
What is a Good SAT Score for ME?
This is the most important section of this blog post! How do you determine what a great SAT score is for you, specifically?
Well, you need to look at the average SAT scores of students admitted to the schools you are interested in attending. A good SAT score for you is a score that matches or exceeds these averages.
How to Find Your Goal SAT Score
To figure out the average scores for the schools you’re interested in, you’ll need 3 things: a list of colleges you are interested in attending, internet access, and a note-taking device.
Once you have your list of colleges, take to the internet and find each college’s admissions page or their “freshman statistics” page. They will usually list their average SAT scores. Write down the highest and lowest score they list.
*If you can’t find this information on a college’s website, try giving their admissions office a call or shooting them an email and ask if they have data (they do) on the average SAT score of admitted freshmen. If this doesn’t work, sites like Niche.com and Magoosh.com are pretty reliable sources.
Here are some examples we found:
University of Michigan Ann Arbor: 1380-1540
Virginia Tech: 1180-1390
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: 1310-1480
North Carolina State University: 1270-1410
The lowest score on the list is 1180, and the highest is 1540. So if you’re looking at these colleges, then your goal SAT score should be about 1400-1450. Aiming for a 1400-1450 puts you on the upper score range for every school, bolstering what is surely a fabulous admission application of well-written essays, a good GPA, and a few meaningful extracurriculars!
If you have no idea what college you want to go to, then aim for just above average. Any score above 1059 will probably help you get into a good school. Once you narrow your list of college options, you can tailor your scoring goal to those schools.