What is a Good, Bad, and Excellent SAT Score?

What’s a good SAT score? The answer is more complicated than you might think. A good SAT score isn’t an objective numerical answer. While we can tell you what scores put you in the range of top scorers, a good SAT score varies by student–a “good” score is the one that helps you achieve your academic goals.

To figure out what score you should aim for, look at the average or median test scores of the colleges you want to apply to. To be a competitive applicant, you want a score higher than those numbers. A high score doesn’t guarantee you’ll be admitted, but it does mean that you’re less likely to be rejected for a below-average score. In fact, some more selective schools may use academic cutoffs, so an impressive test score is one way to increase the chances of your application being read.

Rather than tell you what’s a good SAT score, our goal is to give you an idea of what to aim for. With that in mind, we’ve included the SAT score ranges for some top schools later in this post. It’s important to remember, however, to build a balanced profile. For example, colleges also give great weight to your GPA and extracurricular involvement. To learn more about the factors that admissions officers consider, check out our post on how college applications are evaluated.

How SAT Scores Work

The most common way people approach SAT scores involves the total score and the section scores.

There are two section scores—one for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and the other for Math. Each section ranges between 200 and 800, and the sum of these scores gives you your total score.

But the SAT also has three tests within it: a Reading test, Writing and Language test, and Math test. The Reading test and the Writing and Language test combine to form your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score, while the Math test is converted to your Math Section score. Each test is scored from 10 to 40.

The SAT also includes two cross-test scores which evaluate how well you did on certain questions from all three tests. The two cross-test scores are the Analysis in History/Social Studies and Analysis in Science, which are also scored from 10 to 40.

Each of the two sections has subscores. The subscores range from 1 to 15 and focus on your performance for a particular subset of questions. The subscores include:

  • Reading Test, and Writing and Language Test: Words in Context and Command of Evidence