Share this post

The SAT has four sections—Reading, Writing & Language, Math and Essay (optional). Reading and Writing & Language (together known as Evidence-based Reading and Writing) sections have a composite maximum score of 800 and Math section have a maximum score of 800. Total SAT score can lie between 400 and 1600. The optional Essay section is scored between 2 and 8, and its score is not included in the total SAT score.

As experts in SAT preparation and study abroad admissions, we get this question a lot: what is a good SAT score? The answer, unfortunately, is not that simple. Over the years, we have had instances where an SAT 1490 could make it to UC Berkeley but an SAT 1520 couldn’t. Similarly, an SAT 1510 got accepted by UMass Amherst and so did an SAT 1220. There is a long list of such seemingly anomalous cases and it kind of makes you wonder what’s with scores and admits.

Before we step deeper into exploring this topic, let’s take a detour and understand a bit more about SAT scores.

Inside the SAT Score Report

The SAT is a paper-pencil based test where you have to fill in bubbles on an OMR sheet. Since there is no penalty for wrong answers, it is safe to attempt all questions. You would get your score report online around 3 weeks after your date of the test.

Your SAT score report will have 3 sections. The first section will have your total score (between 400 and 1600), your essay scores given in three different measures of Reading, Writing and Analysis (all lying between 1 and 4), and your percentiles (your performance with respect to other students). The percentiles are based on a complex formula that takes into consideration the scores of previous 2 years’ SAT takers along with the scores of students who took the SAT on the same day as you. Percentiles are not really important for you because they are not considered by universities when you apply to them.

The second section of your SAT score report will have section scores. Your Evidence-based Reading and Writing section score and your Math section score each would lie somewhere between 200 and 800. These are as important as your total score, especially if you have retaken the SAT and the college that you apply in would consider super-scoring (the practice of considering the best section scores from two or more SAT attempts).

This is followed by a section on test scores of Reading, Writing & Language, and Math in the range of 10-40; cross-test scores (also in the range of 10-40) of two test domains – Analysis of History/Social Studies and Analysis in Science; and subscores (in the range of 1-15) of various skill areas like Command of Evidence, Words in Context, Expression of Ideas, Standard English Conventions, Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Passport to Advanced Math. Colour-coded indicators on the report show you whether you have met the benchmark, are approaching the benchmark or if you need to strengthen your skills.

So how does your raw score (the number of questions that you get right) become your scaled score? Well, the College Board uses a formula called the equating formula. This formula accounts for slight variation in test-difficulty levels of different SATs. No one knows exactly what this formula is, so there are only conjectures on how the raw score conversion is done. However, we can use the Raw Score Conversion Table of SAT Practice Tests to get an approximate idea of how to arrive at scaled scores.

SAT Raw Score Conversion Table

Source: collegeboard.org

Okay, I get it…so what’s a good SAT score?

There is no standard score that is considered ‘good’. A good SAT score for you is one that helps you reach your dream college. It depends upon your:

  • Current Profile

    It is no secret that undergrad admissions in US colleges depend upon a combination of SAT score, academic scores, extracurricular activities, LORs and SOPs. So if your composite GPA of classes 9, 10 and 11 is, say 8.2, you would have to make up with your SAT score and aim for at least 1520 in order to get a decent admit. Likewise, if you’ve had a stellar academic record with 10 GPA straight and an amazing extracurricular-activities record, you can make it to a good college (and possibly an Ivy League) with an SAT 1500.

  • Target University

    Your personal goals really matter when deciding what a good SAT score is for you. Since you’re most likely taking the SAT for college admission in the US, you must also have a couple of target universities on your mind. If you’re uncertain about what kind of university you’d best fit in, ask yourself these questions: What kind of a college experience am I looking for? What courses would I like to explore? What activities other than studies would I look forward to engaging in? and so on and so forth.

    At Jamboree, we offer excellent admission counselling services that help you narrow down thousands of plausible options into a well-focused shortlist of 15-18 universities. Most students find this amazingly helpful in setting a target SAT score for them to work towards.

    With competition growing by leaps and bounds each year, if you are aiming for top colleges in the US, you would definitely need a score above 1400. As far as Ivy League universities are concerned, an SAT 1500 or more may not guarantee you a seat, but anything less than that would surely mean rejection. We have compiled a list of 25th and 75th percentile data of Top 30 US Colleges to give you a fair idea of what kind of SAT score you should aim for.

    25th percentile places you below average whereas 75th percentile puts you above average. In general, the farther above the average value your SAT score is, the better are your chances of being considered.

    Average SAT scores for Top 30 US Colleges

    RANK*

    UNIVERSITY

    MID-RANGE  SAT SCORES**

    SAT SUBJECT

    1

    MIT

    1500-1570

    REQUIRED

    2

    Stanford University

    1420-1570

    RECOMMENDED

    3

    Harvard University

    1460-1580

    REQUIRED

    4

    California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

    1530-1580

    REQUIRED

    5

    University of Oxford

    SAT not required

    Not required

    6

    University of Cambridge

    SAT not required

    Not required

    7

    ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

    SAT not required

    Not required

    8

    Imperial College London

    SAT not required

    Not required

    9

    University of Chicago

    1470-1570

    RECOMMENDED

    10

    University College London

    SAT not required

    Not required

    11

    National University of Singapore (NUS)

    1250 (min SAT)

    REQUIRED

    12

    Nanyang Technological University Singapore

    1250 (min SAT)

    REQUIRED

    13

    Princeton University

    1440-1570

    RECOMMENDED

    14

    Cornell University

    1390-1540

    Required for some courses

    15

    Yale University

    1450-1560

    RECOMMENDED

    16

    Columbia University

    1450-1560

    Considered if submitted

    17

    Tsinghua University

    SAT required

    Not required

    18

    The University of Edinburgh

    SAT not required

    Not required

    19

    University of Pennsylvania

    1420-1550

    RECOMMENDED

    20

    University of Michigan

    1330-1510

    Required for some courses

    21

    Johns Hopkins University

    1470-1560

    Considered if submitted

    22

    EPFL – Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

    SAT not required

    Not required

    23

    The University of Tokyo

    1440-1530

    Not required

    24

    The Australian National University

    SAT not required

    Not required

    25

    The University of Hong Kong

    SAT not required

    Not required

    26

    Duke University

    1380-1540

    Required

    27

    University of California, Berkeley (UCB)

    1340-1540

    RECOMMENDED

    28

    University of Toronto

    SAT not required

    Not required

    29

    The University of Manchester

    SAT not required

    Not required

    30

    Peking University

    SAT not required

    Not required

    *Colleges are ranked as per QS World University Rankings 2019

    **Mid-range SAT scores are as per mentioned in College Board website

How Can I Get a Good SAT Score in 2019?

Getting your desired SAT score is more a matter of smart work than of hard work. Follow these 16 tips compiled by our faculties and SMEs, if you want to get your target score in SAT 2019.

  1. Know the SAT

    Before you jump into SAT preparation, make sure you know all the nitty-gritties of the test. You should be clear about the exam sections, number of questions in each section, timing, scores, etc.

  2. Start your preparation early

    Over the years we have seen that the earlier you begin your preparation, the more are your chances of getting a high SAT score. Of course, a majority of students still come to us when they are in Class 11. With our hallmark simplified teaching methodology they do make up for the lost time, but they definitely have to go the extra mile to get their desired score. Starting early also helps us create an impressive online trail of extracurricular achievements that would stand you in good stead when you finally apply to colleges 2 years down the road.

  3. Take a diagnostic test

    A diagnostic test helps you figure out where you currently stand in your preparation level. Moreover, it gives us an idea of what kind of customized support we can offer you to ensure that you perform to the best of your ability.

  4. Chalk out a clear plan of action

    Our SAT Study Plan helps you ace the SAT with the least amount of work. It is a week-wise modular preparation plan than covers the entire SAT syllabus methodically. Download Jamboree’s SAT Study Plan now.

  5. Study consistently

    Make sure to put in at least 2-3 hours exclusively to SAT preparation each day. Turn off your mobile phone so that you are not distracted while you’re studying.

  6. Take help from experienced SAT teachers

    The average Indian SAT-taker can solve SAT questions easily. The challenge is to solve questions correctly within the designated time limit. This requires smart strategies that you must know where and when to apply. Experienced SAT teachers can guide you towards mastering these strategies for solving questions with high speed and accuracy.

  7. Read the right literature to get exposure to SAT vocab

    In order to master SAT Reading Comprehension passages, you must make well-directed efforts towards reading at least one 1000-words article every day from magazines like the TIME, The Atlantic, The Week, Science, etc.

  8. Tackle SAT passages smartly

    A smart SAT-taker knows which Reading Comprehension questions can be answered by just skimming the passage and which ones require a deeper understanding. The adequate practice of various techniques helps you master the methods for tackling SAT passages fast.

  9. Don’t lose heart if you don’t score well in mocks

    Our SAT mock tests help you get a real feel of the exam so that there are no surprises for you on the exam day. Don’t feel disheartened if you don’t perform well in the first few mocks. Our best scores didn’t either! Just make sure to learn from your mistakes and root out the topics, questions or concepts where you tend to make errors.

  10. Analyse your mocks deeply

    Although your mock test result would give you a section-wise analysis of your performance, there is no real substitute to self-analysis. You can best judge your areas of weakness.

  11. Know your weak areas and work steadily on eliminating them

    Make a section-wise list of your weaknesses, topics or areas that you are most likely to stumble in. Schedule doubt-clearing sessions with your faculty and bring up these topics for discussion.

  12. Schedule your test intelligently

    SAT test dates are available more than a year in advance. Choose your test date wisely, you don’t want to be swamped with project deadlines or mid-terms during your SAT.

  13. Take refresher session just before the exam to revise concepts

    It is easy to lose track of your SAT ‘mindset’ with all the school activities going around. So taking revision classes is a good idea as it helps you brush up on all important concepts and relevant question-types.

  14. Keep up your motivation and drive throughout your prep time

    Don’t get out of touch with problem-solving strategies that were taught to you in class. The more you practice them, the better you will get at solving questions with speed and accuracy. Keep giving 2-3 hours to SAT preparation each day even when your regular classes are over.

  15. Work on profile improvement

    College admission committees don’t just consider your SAT score, they holistically assess your entire profile. How you present them matters as much as your achievements.

  16. Be prepared to take a re-test to improve score

    Our teaching methodology usually leads to students getting their desired score the first time itself. However, you may want to give it another shot to improve your score and we are with you all the way.

Share this post