what is a good sat score? (with tips for a higher score)

What Is A Good SAT Score? (With Tips For A Higher Score)

Navigating the world of college admissions can be daunting, and understanding the SAT—a pivotal element in this journey—is crucial. For parents and students alike, the question, "What is a good SAT score?" is often a source of both curiosity and anxiety.

This blog post aims to demystify the SAT scoring system, providing clear, actionable insights into what scores are considered passing, average, and above average. Whether you're aiming for Ivy League admission or looking to exceed your personal best, understanding what constitutes a "good" SAT score is the first step towards success.

Let's dive into the intricacies of the SAT and set the stage for academic triumph.

female student overwhelmed with the sat

What Is Considered a Passing Score for the SAT?

Unlike many standardized tests, the SAT doesn't have a "passing" or "failing" score. Instead, it's a benchmarking tool that colleges use to assess a student's readiness for academic success at the collegiate level. A higher score increases the likelihood of admission to more competitive schools and can also be a gateway to scholarships.

What Is a Good SAT Score Overall?

A good SAT score is typically one that places you in the 75th percentile or higher compared to other test-takers. For the current SAT format, this generally means a score above 1200 out of a total of 1600. To get into top-tier universities, students often need scores in the range of 1400 or above.

However, what's considered good can vary significantly depending on the colleges or universities you're targeting.

What Is Considered an Average SAT Score?

The average SAT score fluctuates slightly each year but usually hovers around the 1050 mark, which is around the 50th percentile. Scoring above 1050 means you've scored higher than the majority of test-takers, while a score below this point indicates the opposite.

Remember, an average score might be more than sufficient for many colleges, particularly state universities and local colleges.

how the sat is scored

How Is the SAT Score Broken Down?

The SAT is divided into three main sections, each designed to measure a specific set of skills. Understanding how each section contributes to the overall score is key to effectively preparing for and excelling in the exam.


The Reading section assesses a student's ability to comprehend and analyze texts. This part consists of passages followed by multiple-choice questions. The content ranges from classic literature to contemporary articles, testing skills like inference, main idea, and evidence-based interpretation.

Scores in this section reflect a student's proficiency in understanding and interpreting written material.

Writing & Language

In the Writing & Language section, the focus shifts to grammar, vocabulary in context, and editing skills. Students are asked to read passages and identify or correct errors in sentence structure, usage, and punctuation.

This section also includes questions on improving the logic and effectiveness of the passage's structure, assessing a student’s ability to enhance written communication.


The Math section is split into two parts: one that allows the use of a calculator and one that doesn't. It covers a range of topics, including algebra, problem-solving, data analysis, and advanced math concepts like trigonometry and geometry.

This section tests not only mathematical knowledge but also problem-solving and analytical skills. A strong performance here indicates a solid foundation in high school-level math and readiness for college-level coursework.

What Is a Good SAT Score for College?

When determining what a good SAT score is for college admissions, context is key. Different institutions have varying benchmarks, and what might be considered an exceptional score at one college may be just above average at another.

Generally, a good SAT score is one that aligns with or exceeds the median score range of admitted students at your target colleges.

For most public universities and local colleges, a score around 1100 to 1200 can be considered good, as it places you above the national average. For more competitive state schools and private colleges, aiming for a score in the range of 1200 to 1350 is a solid goal.

For top-tier universities, such as those in the Ivy League, the bar is set higher. Here, a score in the range of 1400 to 1600 is typically what's considered good. These institutions often have average accepted scores well above the 90th percentile.

It's important to remember that while a good SAT score can significantly enhance your college application, it's not the only factor. Colleges also consider your GPA, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, and personal essays. A lower SAT score can sometimes be offset by strengths in these other areas.

Conclusion What Is Considered a Good SAT Score?

In conclusion, a "good" SAT score is relative and depends on the individual goals and target colleges of each student. Generally, scoring above the national average (around 1050) is a decent benchmark for most colleges. For more selective schools, scores in the higher range (1200-1600) are typically necessary.

Remember, the SAT is just one part of your college application. A good score can open doors, but it doesn't define your entire academic journey. Colleges look for well-rounded candidates, so balancing your SAT preparation with maintaining strong grades, engaging in extracurricular activities, and crafting compelling personal essays is essential.

For students aiming to enhance their scores, understanding the SAT's structure and focusing on areas of improvement can make a significant difference. As educators and parents, our role is to support and guide students through this process, encouraging a holistic approach to their educational and personal development.

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