SAT Suite

What's a Good SAT Score?

If you’re wondering what a good SAT score is, you’re not alone. It’s one of the top questions we get from both students and parents. The answer depends on what you want to do with your score.

Any score, especially if it's your first time taking the SAT, is helpful because it helps you identify the academic areas you still need to improve on. A strong score for a senior applying to college will depend on the college you're applying to, and the other elements of your application profile. After taking the test once, you can concentrate on strengthening any weak areas and retake the SAT.

A “good” SAT score can vary based on individual student backgrounds and the colleges you're targeting. For example, a student with a low high school GPA might consider a certain score as a significant achievement, while an honors student might have higher expectations for their score band. Additionally, colleges with high acceptance rates might have different score expectations compared to more selective colleges.

Think of your college application as an intricate recipe. Your SAT score is just one ingredient. Some schools require that you submit your SAT score, but many schools are test-optional. Even with test-optional schools taking the SAT could help you stand out on applications. Also, your score is just one part of that dynamic list of ingredients.

When you combine your score with everything else in your application, like your GPA, your extracurricular activities, and your personal essay, you might get something really great—like a delicious acceptance letter.

The key takeaway is this: A good score is one that works with the rest of your application to get you in to a college you’re excited about or helps you identify strengths that propel your career options.

The following information will help you figure out where you want to go and what scores can help you get there.


1. Think About Your Future

Imagine your ideal college experience. What do you see? Are you in a big city or a small town? Is there a strong theater program or a state-of-the-art computer lab? Use the College Search tool on BigFuture™ to find schools that match what you’re looking for and put together a college list.


2. Understand the Score Range

The score range for the SAT is 400−1600; that’s your total score. It’s the sum of your scores on the  Reading and Writing section and the Math section, which each have a score range of 200−800.


3. Don’t Obsess Over the Numbers

We’re serious. Your SAT score might be a significant part of your college application, but it’s not the only part. Even if you get a 1600, there’s no guarantee you’ll get in if the rest of your application doesn’t match what the college is looking for.


4. Check Average SAT Scores

The average scores of accepted students vary from school to school. Highly selective colleges accept a small percentage of applicants, so most of the students they admit have SAT scores near the top. Other colleges, like community colleges, admit a higher percentage of applicants, so the average scores there are usually lower.

To find out the average SAT score ranges for the schools on your list, use the Compare Colleges tool on BigFuture.


Next Steps: Practice and Improve

No matter what score you get, you can almost always do better. Here are two easy ways to improve your score:

1. Practice more

Specifically, review the knowledge and skills that you need to focus on and then practice with Official digital SAT prep on Khan Academy.

2. Take it Again

Students who take the SAT a second or third time consistently get higher scores. Here's why you might do better if you take the test again:

  • You’ll have learned more in school.
  • You’ll have more time to study.
  • You’ll know what types of questions to expect.
  • You’ll be more relaxed.

You’ll also be able to take advantage of the superscoring policy at some colleges. Superscoring is when colleges add your best Reading and Writing score to your best Math score—even if those scores are from different dates—to get your best total score.

One More Thing

Don’t stress out. No matter what your SAT score is, there’s a college that’s right for you—you just have to find it. Good luck!

Learn more about the SAT, including how to register.