SAT Scores 2022: Your Complete Guide

Let's dig into average scores, the scoring range, college averages and more

Let's talk about SAT scores! We're going to discuss the SAT score range, SAT percentiles and talk about what constitutes a good, bad and average SAT score. We'll also lay out the average test scores at colleges, helping you target schools that match your score. Let's go!

Table of Contents

1. SAT Scores Introduction

• What is a good SAT score?

• SAT Score Percentiles

• SAT Scores: the Good, the Bad and the Average

• What is a good SAT score for you?

2. College SAT Scores Data

• SAT Scores Range at Select Colleges

• SAT Scores Averages at 50 Popular Universities

• SAT Scores and College Admissions

3. How to Raise Your SAT Score

4. SAT Scores Final Thoughts

5. SAT Scores FAQ

SAT Scores Introduction

SAT scores range from 400 to 1600, and there are two main subsections that are worth 800 points each. The SAT Math Test features scores ranging from 200-800, and these points come from two different sections. The Reading and Writing Section combines for the other 800 points, with 400 points coming from each of the reading and writing portions.

A few other key points:

  • There is no longer an essay portion.
  • The two math sections combine for one score.
  • Reading and writing combine for one score.

A Closer Look

Reading: 400 Points, 52 Questions, 65 Minutes

SAT scores for the reading section range from 10-40. This 10-40 score is your scaled score, and you can convert this to your actual score (out of the 400 available points) by multiplying by ten. The general process here is that the SAT knows different tests can vary in terms of difficulty. Getting 42 questions right shouldn't always mean the same score if not all test versions are equally difficult. As a result, the SAT will convert your raw SAT score (out of 52 for the reading section) to a scaled score out of 40 based on the difficulty of the specific test version you took. You can then just multiply by ten to get the total number of points you have earned for the section.

Writing: 400 Points, 44 Questions, 35 Minutes

The SAT Writing section works exactly like reading did: Your raw score is converted to a scaled score (10-40) that is shown on your score report. To convert that to actual SAT points, multiply by ten. Your SAT Writing and SAT Reading scores are then just added together to produce your Evidence-Based Reading & Writing score, which is worth 800 total points. Since we're digging into the details here, you should know that getting one more question right or wrong won't always impact your score in equal ways -- it depends on what your score is. If you are scoring near the national average, getting one more question right or wrong usually has less of an impact that getting one more question right or wrong at the top end of the score chart.

Math: 800 Points | Section 3: 20 Questions, 25 Minutes, No Calculator | Section 4: 38 Questions, 55 Minutes, Calculator

While there is only one SAT Math subscore, which ranges from 200-800 points, this score comes from two different sections. Section three is a 20-question section that does not allow the use of a calculator, and section four is a 38-question section that does allow a calculator. Your total number of correct answers from both sections is totalled to form your raw math score, and then this is converted to your scaled score out of 800 points. Your SAT score report will breakdown your performance across a variety of content areas within the SAT Math Test.

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What is a good SAT score?

A good score gets you into the college you want to attend and gets you a scholarship if you need it. Okay, duh. But what sort of score actually does that? Maybe you’ve taken the test and know your score, or maybe you’re still picking your test date and are trying to make your college shortlist.

Either way, we're about to lay out everything you need to know about SAT scores, including percentiles, the average score at a ton of top colleges and the amount of improvement you might see in your SAT score with some prep.

SAT Score Percentiles Chart

See how your SAT score stacks up against other test takers:

SAT Score Nationally-Representative Percentile Percentile Among Actual SAT Test Takers
1600 99+ 99+
1590 99+ 99+
1580 99+ 99+
1570 99+ 99+
1560 99+ 99+
1550 99+ 99
1540 99+ 99
1530 99+ 99
1520 99+ 99
1510 99 98
1500 99 98
1490 99 98
1480 99 97
1470 99 97
1460 99 97
1450 99 96
1440 98 96
1430 98 95
1420 98 95
1410 97 94
1400 97 94
1390 97 93
1380 96 92
1370 96 92
1360 95 91
1350 94 90
1340 94 89
1330 93 89
1320 93 88
1310 92 87
1300 91 86
1290 90 85
1280 89 84
1270 88 83
1260 87 82
1250 86 81
1240 85 80
1230 84 78
1220 83 77
1210 82 76
1200 81 74
1190 80 73
1180 78 72
1170 77 70
1160 76 69
1150 74 67
1140 73 66
1130 71 64
1120 70 62
1110 69 61
1100 67 59
1090 65 57
1080 63 55
1070 61 54
1060 60 52
1050 58 50
1040 56 48
1030 54 46
1020 52 45
1010 50 43
1000 48 41
990 46 39
980 44 38
970 42 36
960 40 34
950 38 33
940 36 31
930 35 29
920 33 28
910 31 26
900 29 25
890 27 23
880 26 22
870 24 20
860 23 19
850 21 18
840 20 16
830 18 15
820 17 14
810 16 12
800 14 11
790 13 10
780 11 9
770 10 8
760 9 7
750 8 6
740 7 5
730 6 5
720 5 4
710 4 3
700 4 3

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SAT Scores: The Good, The Bad and the Average

Scores range from 400 to 1600, and the average SAT score in 2020 is 1059. Even though there are four sections that students take on the test, these sections combine to produce just two scored sections, Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. The average Math score is 528, and the average Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score is 531.

Okay, so that’s the average. But what’s a good score? What’s a bad one? What kind of score will make you cry? Those are much tougher questions to answer. A good place to start is a few key score percentiles from our chart above:

  • 99th Percentile: 1520
    1520! That’s crazy high. The 99th percentile used to be closer to 1500, but this elite cutoff has crept up over the last several years. Coincidentally (or maybe not?), this also corresponds roughly to the average score of accepted students at most Ivy League colleges. Study up!
  • 90th Percentile: 1350
    This is still an extremely high score (better than 90% of students). But note the gap between 1380 and 1530. 150 points is a ton, and it differentiates just 9% of test takers. This score would make most students competitive at a lot of great universities.
  • 75th Percentile: 1210
    Ask a lot of people what a good score is, and they’re likely to give an answer that falls somewhere around this mark. If you’re sitting at a 1230, you’re better off than three out of four students, so even if it isn't a 1530, it’s still pretty good. This kind of score will make most students competitive at a lot of quality flagship state universities and many private schools. Increasingly, though, top-tier state universities are above this mark.

That gives us a starting point to understand what counts as a good SAT score. But what about a good score for you?

What is a good SAT score for you?

Unfortunately, this question is not an easy one to answer. For most students, their college prospects depend largely on two things:

  1. SAT Scores

  2. GPA and class rank

Both of these factors are absolutely huge, and at competitive colleges, both need to be strong. A student with a 1530 but a bad GPA is probably an outsider at most Ivy League schools. Similarly, a student with a great GPA but a poor test performance isn’t super competitive at a lot of really competitive universities. Thus, we can’t really talk about bad scores without having the context of GPA.

Instead, we can say this: A bad SAT score is one that is weaker than your GPA.

Okay, that’s kind of a non-answer. But it’s the truth. If you want to go to a top-tier state university like the University of Texas-Austin, a 1200 is probably a bad score. However, a 1200 might be a great score if you want to go to a lot of other pretty good schools. Many students would be thrilled to have a 1200, but others might feel devastated.

Bottom line: The SAT score you need is determined by the college you want to attend.


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College SAT Scores Data

Since good SAT scores are determined by target universities, let’s look at what types of colleges have average SAT scores in various ranges:

1500+: The best universities in the world, including Harvard, Stanford, Cal Tech, MIT and Princeton.

1400-1500: Almost-Ivies, like UC-Berkeley, University of Michigan, University of Virginia, UCLA and Notre Dame.

1300-1400: Tons of good private and public universities, including the University of Texas at Austin, University of Florida, George Washington University and Pepperdine.

1200-1300: This is probably the most common range for quality state universities, including the University of Colorado, University of Arizona and Texas A&M. There are also many quality private schools in this range, including TCU and Syracuse.

1100-1200: Broad range of schools, including flagship state universities like the University of Missouri and Ole Miss and quality second-tier state universities like the University of Illinois-Chicago and UC-Riverside.

Below 1100: There are actually quite a few universities in this category, including tons of non-flagship state universities and a lot of small private colleges. Some examples include Arkansas State University, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Regis University and Illinois State.

What can you gather from this? Three things:

  1. There’s a school to match your SAT score. Quality universities can be found up and down this list, so you’re not destined to a life on the streets if you end up with an 1120.

  2. 200 points can make a HUGE difference. The 1300s can put you at UT-Austin, which is a top-10 public school in America. The 1100s can put you at some good schools, but nothing of that caliber.

  3. The best schools are really, really competitive. If you were to line a hundred students up, on average, only one would be seriously competitive at schools in the first group. Even for the second group, only a few students would have a real chance.

SAT scores at competitive universities have gotten really, really high.

SAT Score Data for 50 Popular Universities

College Name Average SAT Score
Arizona State University 1245
Cal Tech 1545
Colorado State University 1180
Florida International University 1195
Florida State University 1270
Harvard University 1520
Indiana University 1255
Kansas State University 1160
Louisiana State University 1180
MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) 1535
Michigan State University 1210
NYU 1440
Northern Arizona University 1135
Oklahoma State University 1160
Princeton University 1505
Rice University 1505
Rutgers 1300
San Diego State University 1215
SMU (Southern Methodist University) 1390
Stanford University 1505
Texas A&M 1275
Texas Tech University 1155
The Ohio State University 1355
UCLA 1405
University of Alabama 1180
University of Arizona 1235
University of Arkansas 1210
University of California at Berkeley 1415
University of Calfornia at Irvine 1310
University of Central Florida 1330
University of Chicago 1520
University of Florida 1360
University of Georgia 1325
University of Illinois 1350
University of Illinois at Chicago 1120
University of Kansas 1240
University of Maryland 1380
University of Michigan 1435
University of Minnesota 1350
University of Missouri 1190
University of Oklahoma 1210
University of South Florida 1250
University of Southern California 1440
University of Texas at Austin 1355
University of Washington 1340
University of Wisconsin 1390
Vanderbilt University 1505
Virginia Tech 1285
Yale University 1515

What would 200 EXTRA POINTS do for you?

We average 210 points of improvement, and all of our tutors have scored in the 99th percentile

SAT Scores and College Admissions

Like we said above, SAT scores and GPA/class rank make up the vast majority of the admissions calculation. In fact, many schools will use these figures as their initial filter before moving on to further aspects of a student’s application.

For many schools, a great SAT score can help offset a mediocre GPA or class rank. Schools differ in how they weight the various portions of a student’s application, but a less-than-stellar GPA will always look better next to a strong SAT score.

Of course, if you plan on targeting top-tier colleges, you will need a sufficiently high SAT score and GPA. At the most competitive universities, standards are so high that very, very few students are shoo-ins, regardless of their SAT scores and GPA. I’ve known of perfect-scoring students who were rejected at multiple Ivy League schools!

How to Raise Your SAT Score

We have spent thousands and thousands of hours figuring out how to help students do better on this test. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for every student, but there are some things that will work for the vast majority of students. This information isn't a replacement for a comprehensive prep program, but it will be useful to any student looking to raise their SAT score. While you're at it, you might want to check out our Free SAT Prep Guide.

Consistency COUNTS

It's tempting to try to cram for the SAT. But remember that the test covers years of school concepts. It's a ton of material, and you won't be able to get it done in a week and do it justice. So don't try. Instead, start early and make consistent, steady progress.

Most students are surprised at the progress they can make in 6-8 weeks of dedicated prep. Just four or five hours a week for a couple months is enough for most students to significantly improve their academic concept understanding and become confident in the most important test-taking strategies.

Improve Concept Understanding

You hear a lot of people talk about little tricks that can massively raise your score. Don't buy into it. The big gains come from getting better on the actual grammar, algebra, etc. that is tested.

Do Official Practice Tests

There is no substitute for putting in the time, and you should spend this time on official practice tests. The good news is that there are a lot of free official practice tests

Target Weaknesses

Based on your practice test results, you should know where you are weak and where you are strong. Make a list of your biggest weaknesses and move through the relevant content in a methodical way. Rinse and repeat.

Track Progress

A good plan is one that leads you up to a specific test date and also features weekly goals for the amount of time you should spend on prep. Use your practice tests to track your progress toward your goal and determine where this time should be spent.

SAT Scores: Final Thoughts

There is no magic number for what constitutes a great SAT score. Your starting point of reference is your targeted schools list. That will tell you what your goal should be. Once you’ve created your list and looked at the average SAT scores for your target schools, you should have an idea of what kind of score you will need in order to be competitive. If you have a low GPA, you’ll need to be even higher.

To some people, a 1200 is a great score. If you’re looking at colleges with an average score of 1080, a 1200 is fantastic. You’re likely to get in, assuming your GPA is in order. However, that same 1200 becomes much less impressive if you are targeting a school with an average SAT score of 1350. If they have an average of 1500, you have some serious work to do.

Fortunately, scores can improve, and if you’ve made it through this entire post, you might have the commitment needed to get YOUR great SAT score :).

SAT Scores FAQ

Still have questions on how your scores fit into the college admissions puzzle? We'll try to answer them.

I have a good score but a bad GPA. Can I still get into a great college?

Maybe! Different colleges give different weight to scores and GPA. Having a good score but a bad GPA is certainly better than having a bad score and a bad GPA, but how much that bad GPA will hurt your really does depend on the colleges you are considering. Obviously, a good GPA is better than a bad GPA, but there is a good chance you will find some competitive universities that will give significant weight to a great score.

I have a bad score but a good GPA. Can I still get into a great college?

The answer is pretty much the same as the good score/bad GPA question: Maybe. Just as some colleges will give weight to a great score, some will give less weight to SAT scores and more weight to GPA and class rank. There is a limit to this potential, however. The odds of getting into Harvard with an 1150 are extremely low, regardless of your GPA. The lesson here is that top colleges expect both high scores and a high GPA. Having one or the other is better than having neither, though.

How much can I realistically raise my score?

Most students can raise their scores significantly through consistent hard work. What does "significantly" mean? It means you will be competitive at colleges you are not currently competitive at. Going from a 1050 to a 1200 is a significant jump, just as going from a 1410 to a 1500 is a significant jump. That doesn't mean all students will do this, though. The reason is simply that not all students are prepared to put in consistent hard work. A tutor can help with this, but plenty of students can do it on their own.

Is the SAT easier than the ACT?

No. Both tests are standardized, which means they are scored in comparison to other students who take the test. The way SAT scores are compared to ACT scores is through percentiles, and a 50th percentile score on the ACT means you did better than 50% of other test takers -- which is exactly what a 50th percentile score the SAT means. Neither test is easier than the others in general, but there are some considerations that could make one a better pick than the other for you. Request a diagnostic quiz to see which one is right for you.

Do colleges superscore?

"Superscore" refers to the practice of taking the highest sub-score for each section across all testings and combining them to make the highest possible test score. For example, if you scored a 580/640 (reading & writing/math) on one test date and a 620/610 on the next, your superscore would be 620/640. That 1260 would be 30 points higher than your otherwise-best score (1230, on your second test). Some colleges do this, some don't. It varies greatly. There are even some colleges that do this for admissions purposes but not for scholarships, and some colleges do the exact opposite. Most schools will state their policy on their website.

I bombed the SAT. Will I be a failure in college?

No, probably not! Your SAT scores are just one part of your college preparation, and they don't say anything great about you as a person. The biggest indicator of your potential for success in college is your willingness to put in the work. While it is a good idea to get the best score you can, which will allow you to get into the college of your choice, don't fret if you end up with a less-than-stellar score. Plenty of successful people didn't do well on the SAT.

When should I hire a tutor?

Some students can get meaningfully higher scores by prepping on their own. Some can't. Doing SAT tutoring with a professional prep company has its advantages. You can work more efficiently because the tutor will help you prioritize where to spend time, you can move through the material in an organized, systemic way and the tutor can help you through your content weaknesses, whether those include brushing up on old algebra you haven't done in years or fixing some bad grammar habits. Students who can get the same results on their own usually have a lot of time and no shortage of drive to do it. If this isn't you, or if you need results now, a tutor might be a good option.

Is it easier to get a better score on certain test dates?

No. This is a myth. Because the tests are standardized, there's no advantage to taking one test date over another.

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