What SAT Score is Good Enough?
As we’ve discussed, there’s no such thing as “passing” on the SAT. There are two main ways to evaluate an SAT score: by percentiles, and by the average scores at the college you’re interested in. Here’s we’ll go over the second method of looking at a score: score averages at colleges.
In an ideal world, you should only have to compete with yourself and not have to compare yourself with anyone else. However, in the highly competitive world of college admissions, especially for top-ranking schools, your score would have to be compared with everyone else’s to determine how well you would do in the school or program of your choice.
The idea of a “good score” is highly relative. The highest possible score is 2400, but very few students achieve this. The national average is in the 1500 range, but the truth is that you should aim to score much higher than the average to be considered by the best universities. This is why you should be aware of where you stand against other test takers on the basis of percentiles.
Why does my SAT score matter so much to colleges?
The fact of the matter is that almost all schools make their SAT data available to the public, and they know that their reputation would be affected by how high the scores of the admitted students are. To be considered as elite or selective, a school has to show that it only selects freshmen with significantly higher scores than the national average.
Ivy League universities are likely to favor students with scores averaging 2200 or higher, whereas schools among the top 150 would prefer that incoming freshmen have scores comfortably above 1800. Schools want to ensure that the freshman they admit have a high likelihood of achieving academic success, and an above-average SAT is one good indicator to look at.
Average SAT Scores at Specific Colleges
The best way to know whether your score is good enough is to compare it with the average scores of freshmen currently enrolled at the programs you are interested in. This information is typically available on schools’ websites.
Another way is to take a look at the average scores for the schools that you are considering. Below is a table showing the average range of scores of admitted students. An important thing to remember as you look at these scores is that they do not represent a cut-off point but rather show a general view of score averages.
|School||Average SAT Math Scores||Average SAT Reading Scores|
|Arizona State University||500–630||480–610|
|Brigham Young University||590–690||580–690|
|California Institute of Technology||770–800||720–780|
|Carnegie Mellon University||690–790||630–730|
|Colorado State University||520–640||500–620|
|Florida State University||560–640||560–640|
|Johns Hopkins University||670–770||640–740|
|Louisiana State University||520–630||500–620|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||740–800||670–770|
|New York University||630–740||620–710|
|Penn State University||560–670||530–630|
|University of California–Los Angeles||600–760||560–680|
|University of Notre Dame||680–770||660–750|
|University of Pennsylvania||690–780||660–760|
|Wake Forest University||630–710||620–700|
What if my score falls below the average given in the table?
Remember that the SAT is not the end of the story – it’s just one part of your application. Colleges consider other factors aside from your SAT score. These factors include your GPA, extracurricular activities, and unique challenges you may have faced, among other factors. You can always apply to a school with a higher average SAT; just be aware that the SAT portion of your application will be at some sort of disadvantage.
If you are aiming at top schools and you feel dissatisfied with your score, remember that you always have the option to retake the SAT. Retaking increases your chances of obtaining a better score, and the good news is that even if you send all your scores, most colleges will still consider your best scores.