SAT Test Scores

Written by Nathalie Rachel Sinyard

Nathalie studied PPE at Oxford and has mentored both UK and US students.

The SAT is an entrance exam that many universities use to help them make admissions decisions. Its overall purpose is to assess how ready you are to start college-level academic work. It also provides a standardised way to compare lots of applicants.

College admissions officers will look at your SAT score alongside your grades, your letters of recommendation, your extracurricular activities, and any interviews or personal essays you have submitted.

Although some colleges have become “test-optional” and no longer require the SAT, a number of prestigious schools such as Brown and Yale have reinstated their SAT requirement. If you’re applying to a test-optional college, omitting a SAT score won’t harm your application, but including a good SAT score can help your application stand out even more.

How is the SAT scored?

The SAT comprises of two sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) & Math.

The SAT scoring system counts the number of multiple-choice questions answered correctly and converts the raw data into a scaled score between 200 and 800. According to the College Board, this conversion process compensates for any differences in difficulty between test versions.

Your total score comes from adding together your scores from the Math section and the EBRW section. You can score between 200 and 800 for each section, which means your total score will be between 400 and 1600.

SAT score percentiles

Standing out in the college admissions process is not just about how high you score, but how you score relative to the other students who took the test.

If you score in the 75th percentile or above, this means you scored higher than 75% of the other students. In 2023, the top 25% of students who took the SAT scored at least 1180.

Total SAT score percentiles
Total score Percentile
1570 - 1600 99+
1530 - 1560 99
1430 - 1440 95
1350 - 1360 90
1290 85
1240 80
1160 70
1090 60
1030 50


EBRW score percentiles
Score Percentile
780 - 800 99+
760 - 770 99
720 95
680 90
650 85
630 81
590 71
560 62
520 50


SAT Math score percentiles
Score Percentile
800 99+
790 99
750 95
690 90
650 85
620 80
580 71
540 62
510 49


SAT scores explained

What is a good/competitive SAT test score?

A good SAT score, assuming you’re aiming for a top 20 college, would be in the range of 1470 to 1580. This includes the Ivy League universities like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. If you want your SAT score to be a competitive advantage for you, it is best to aim towards the upper end of this range.

It’s important to remember too that applicants to these universities tend to be impressive in more ways than just their SAT scores, so time invested in your grades, essays, and extracurricular activities is also critical to success.


What is an average SAT score?

For 2023, the average SAT score was 1028, according to the College Board. The important question though is how this relates to you and your chosen college.

Rather than focus on the national average (which includes all students applying to all colleges) it makes sense to target a score that is equal to or better than the average SAT for your chosen colleges. You can usually find this data on most colleges’ admissions websites.


What is the lowest SAT score colleges will accept?

If you dig into the admissions data for different colleges, you will see a large range of SAT scores, including relatively low ones, are accepted. Sometimes this varies by what subject you want to major in. For example, a particular minimum score on the math section matters more if you’re studying engineering.

However, even highly competitive colleges such as Columbia engage in holistic admissions, meaning that they take into consideration all aspects of an application, and a lower score in one area may be compensated for by outstanding achievement in another.


2024 SAT scores: what’s changed?

There are three changes to the SAT for 2024. The first big change is the SAT becoming fully digital.

Also, the 2024 tests will be 'adaptive', meaning each section is divided into two parts, and the second part will either be easier or harder than the first, depending on how you scored in the first half.

Finally, the 2024 SAT is shorter at 2 hours and 14 minutes, and the questions are shorter too. This means you can focus more on accuracy. These changes emphasize the importance of studying carefully and allowing yourself plenty of time to prepare.

What SAT scores are needed for Ivy League schools?

 Ivy League school First-year students' average SAT score
Brown University (class of 2027) 1510 - 1570
Columbia University (class of 2027) 1510 - 1560
Cornell University (class of 2025) 1450 - 1540
Dartmouth College (class of 2027) 1440 - 1560
Harvard University (class of 2025) 1494
Princeton University (class of 2027) 1540 - 1580
University of Pennsylvania (class of 2027) 1510 - 1560
Yale University (class of 2024) 1460 - 1580



How many people get a perfect SAT score?

Approximately 0.07% of students get a perfect SAT score. This is in reality just a few hundred people a year so don't stress about not getting 1600 SAT - it's absolutely not necessary to get into your dream college!


How many times do people retake the SAT to achieve a good score?

Lots of students improve their scores when they take it a second or third time. But not everyone has multiple attempts at the SAT, and it’s up to you if you should. The important thing to consider is if you reached your target score and are satisfied with it.


Can colleges see all my SAT test scores history?

Not automatically, but colleges have different policies on SAT score reporting so it’s important to understand what your target colleges do. Some colleges ask you to submit all your SAT scores and others let you choose which scores to send.


When do SAT scores come out?

Typically, you will receive your SAT scores 13 days after you take the test, and colleges will receive your SAT scores 10 days after that. Check the College Board website for dates.

A-List SAT Question Bank
Designed to enhance your practice and boost your scores, our question bank offers practice questions covering all SAT sections: Math Reading and Writing.

These questions mimic the actual SAT format and difficulty, followed by step-by-step solutions and advice. You can practice anytime and at your own pace.

Improve your SAT score with A-List

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