What’s a Good SAT Score?
The SAT score range is 400-1600 for your total score, and 200-800 for each of your two section scores. One section score is Math, while the other is a combined Reading and Writing score called Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW).
As you would expect, the higher your score, the better you did compare to all the other test-takers. But is there a certain SAT score cutoff that marks a “good” score?
To determine what makes for good SAT scores relative to everyone else, you need to know exactly how SAT scoring works. Your total score out of 1600 (as well as your two section scores out of 800) corresponds to a percentile ranking. Your SAT percentile tells you what percentage of students you scored better than. So if you got a 60th percentile score, you’ve scored better than 60% of all test takers!
The mean, or average, SAT composite score is 1068. Note that the test is deliberately designed so that the mean score hovers around 1000 on the 1600-point scale—about 500 per section. The average score for Math is 531, and the average score for EBRW is 536.
SAT scores follow a normal distribution. This means that student performance tends to cluster around the middle of the scale (1000 is the halfway point between the minimum score of 400 and the maximum score of 1600). Far fewer test-takers score toward the higher and lower ends of the scale.
Here’s an abbreviated SAT score chart with percentiles for 2018 SAT composite scores so you can check out the score distribution for yourself:
|SAT Composite Score (Out of 1600)||Percentile|
|600 and below||-1|
As you can see from the percentiles and corresponding scores, more students score toward the middle of the scale than at the top or bottom.
For example, a score jump from 1000 to 1100 (100 points) moves you from the 39th to the 58th percentile—so you’ve moved up past nearly an entire fifth of test-takers! But moving 100 points from 1250 to 1350 only brings you up 10%, from the 81st to the 91st percentile. Finally, moving from 1450 to 1550, a 100-point margin near the top of the scale, nets you only about 2%!
In terms of what makes for good SAT scores based on this chart, you already know that 1070 is about average, so anything above that would be an above-average score. A 1250 places you in the 81st percentile, that is, in the top fifth of test takers, which is very good. A 1350 puts you in the top 9%, making it a strong score. A 1400 is in the 94th percentile, the top 6% of all test takers. And any score 1500+ puts you in the coveted top 1%!
By contrast, anything lower than a 1070 is a below-average score. For example, a 950, which is in the 31st percentile, places you in the bottom third of test takers. And a 900, which is in the 23rd percentile, places you in the bottom fourth. Not so great comparatively.