A new school year is around the corner, which means test anxiety may already be setting in for some high school students. Incoming seniors, juniors and even some industrious sophomores already have a date to take the SAT Reasoning Test, better known simply as the SAT.
The SAT was created by the organization College Board as a standardized test to gauge writing, critical reading and mathematics skills that are needed for higher education. It’s now widely used as a college admissions entrance exam.
But what is a good SAT score, and does it really matter?
Scoring well on the SAT opens the college admission doors, literally. Although over 850 colleges now give students the option to submit test scores with their application, it’s still a good idea. We know many of the top schools in states where we provide online drivers ed courses require a certain SAT score for enrollment, and if you have Ivy League schools aspirations you’ll need to score big on the SAT.
Plus, a good SAT score is still needed to land many merit-based scholarships and for course placement in some cases.
Average SAT Score
Let’s start with the average SAT scores, since the goal is to hit above that. This can be a little tricky to calculate because of the way the test is conducted.
The SAT is broken out into three sections:
- Critical Reading - Max score of 800
- Mathematics - Max score of 800
- Writing (optional) - Max score of 800
The average overall score depends on whether you take the optional writing portion. The latest report from College Board found that the average scores for each section in the first half of last year were:
- Critical Reading score without essay - 533
- Math score without essay - 527
- Critical Reading score with essay - 544
- Math score with essay- 538
What’s Considered a High SAT Score
So what is a good SAT score? Technically, anything over the national average score of 1002 can be considered a high SAT score. But in actuality that’s all relative to the schools where you plan to apply. Most schools have their own benchmarks for admittance. For example, here’s a look at the accepted SAT total scores of a few colleges:
- CalTech - 1520
- Harvard University - 1480
- Notre Dame University - 1400
- University of California, Berkeley - 1330
- University of Florida - 1250
- Penn State - 1160
In general, a total score of 1250, which is around the 80th percentile score, will be acceptable for many four-year colleges and universities. It’s a good idea to check with your schools of choice to see if they have an SAT score range or score of accepted applicants, so you know for sure how high you need to score. Don’t forget your high school GPA and extracurricular activity will also play a factor.
As you probably already know, we’re all about prepping for tests. There are a lot of services out there that can help, including free SAT practice problems from highly respected groups like Kaplan. You can also use coupon code ACE50 for $50 off Kaplan's Self-Paced program or ACE150 for $150 off larger packages. You’ll get a chance to see what taking the SAT is like and have the chance to bounce your questions off the test prep experts.