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SAT Historical Percentiles for 2005, 2004, 2003

Posted by Justin Berkman | Nov 8, 2015 11:15:00 AM

SAT General Info

 

If you took the SAT in 2003, 2004, or 2005, you may be wondering what your percentile score is on the SAT. Is a 1400 on the SAT in 2005 the same percentile score as a 1400 in 2003? Do percentile scores change over time? 2005 was a big year in SAT history; the maximum score for the SAT changed from a 1600 to a 2400 in March of 2005. In March of 2016, the SAT will be going back to the 1600 maximum score. For this post, I will be focusing on percentile scores from before the SAT changed its format in 2005.

In this article, I will explain SAT percentile scores, how they change, and I'll provide the percentile scores for SAT composite and section scores for 2005 and 2004.

 

What Are Percentile Scores?

Percentile scores reveal how well you did on the test in relation to other people. If you scored in the 90th percentile, you did better than 90% of test-takers. If you got a 40th percentile score, you did better than 40% of the people who took the test.

The College Board determines SAT percentile scores annually from the scores of college-bound high school seniors who took the SAT. The higher your percentile score, the better you did relative to other college-bound high school seniors from that year.

 

Do Percentile Scores Change?

Typically, percentile scores for equivalent SAT scores stay roughly the same from year to year. For example, a 1400 was the 96th percentile in both 2005 and 2004. However, percentile scores can change very slightly. In 2005, a 1260 was the 85th percentile, but in 2004, it was the 86th percentile. (That's equivalent to about an 1860 on the current SAT.)

The SAT does try to use its scoring system so that equivalent SAT scores are indicative of the same skill level and percentile scores regardless of when the test was taken. A 1300 in 2004 should be equivalent to an 1300 in 1984.

 

How Should You Use This Data? Why Is It Important?

Your percentile score is the most straightforward way to determine if you got a good or bad score. If you did better than the majority of test-takers, then you did well. However, when you apply to a college, you’re being compared with the other applicants to that school. Most schools publicize their 25th and 75th percentile SAT scores. If you want to be competitive for admission, your target score should be the school’s 75th percentile score.

Keep in mind that if you took the SAT in 2003-2005, you probably won’t need your SAT score for college since scores are usually only valid for 5 years. However, a future employer may want to know your SAT score.

Percentile scores help put your scores in context. A small composite score increase can have a huge impact on your percentile score if you received a middle score. A 1010 is roughly the 46th percentile, but a 1230 is the 82nd.

 

 

2003 Percentile Scores

I was unable to obtain percentile scores from 2003, but as you’ll see, there is very little variation from year to year. I was able to determine that the average Verbal score for 2003 was 507 and the average Math score was 519.

 

Composite Score Percentiles

Score 2005 Percentile 2004 Percentile
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 99
1500 99 99
1490 99 99
1480 98 99
1470 98 98
1460 98 98
1450 98 98
1440 97 97
1430 97 97
1420 97 97
1410 96 96
1400 96 96
1390 95 95
1380 95 95
1370 94 94
1360 93 94
1350 93 93
1340 92 93
1330 91 92
1320 91 91
1310 90 90
1300 89 89
1290 88 88
1280 87 88
1270 86 87
1260 85 86
1250 84 84
1240 83 83
1230 82 82
1220 80 81
1210 79 80
1200 78 78
1190 76 77
1180 75 75
1170 74 74
1160 72 73
1150 71 71
1140 69 69
1130 67 68
1120 66 66
1110 64 64
1100 62 63
1090 61 61
1080 59 59
1070 57 58
1060 55 56
1050 54 54
1040 52 52
1030 50 50
1020 48 48
1010 46 46
1000 44 45
990 42 43
980 41 41
970 39 39
960 37 37
950 35 36
940 34 34
930 32 32
920 30 30
910 29 29
900 27 27
890 26 26
880 24 24
870 23 23
860 21 21
850 20 20
840 19 19
830 17 17
820 16 16
810 15 15
800 14 14
790 13 13
780 12 12
770 11 11
760 10 10
750 9 9
740 8 8
730 8 8
720 7 7
710 6 6
700 6 6
690 5 5
680 5 5
670 4 4
660 4 4
650 3 3
640 3 3
630 3 3
620 2 2
610 2 2
600 2 2
590 2 2
580 1 1
570 1 1
560 1 1
550 1 1
540 1 1
530 1 1
520 1 1
510 1- 1-
500 1- 1-
490 1- 1-
480 1- 1-
470 1- 1-
460 1- 1-
450 1- 1-
440 1- 1-
430 1- 1-
420 1- 1-
410 1- 1-
400 -- --

 

 

 

Section Score Percentiles

Before the SAT changed its format in March 2005, the Critical Reading section was known as the Verbal section. The Verbal section included analogies. There were no iPads. Times were different.

 

Critical Reading (Verbal)

Score 2005 Percentile 2004 Percentile
800 99+  99+
790 99 99 
780 99 99 
770 99 99 
760  98 99 
750 98  98 
740 98  98 
730 97  97 
720 96  97 
710 96  96 
700 95  95 
690 94  94 
680 93  93 
670 91  92 
660 90  90 
650 88  89 
640 87  87 
630 84  85 
620 82  83 
610 80  81 
600 78  78 
590 75  76 
580 72  73 
570 69  69 
560 66  67 
550 63  64 
540 60  60 
530 56  56 
520 52  53 
510 49  49 
500 46  46 
490 42  43 
480 39  39 
470 35  35 
460 32  32 
450 29  29 
440 26  26 
430 23  23 
420 20  21 
410 18  18 
400 15  15 
390 13  13 
380 12  11 
370 10  10 
360
350
340
330
320
310
300
290
280
270
260
250
240
230
220
210 1-  1- 
200 --  -- 

 

 

Math

Score 2005 Percentile 2004 Percentile
800 99 99
790 99 99
780 99 99
770 98 99
760 98 98
750 98 98
740 97 97
730 97 97
720 96 96
710 94 95
700 93 93
690 92 92
680 91 91
670 89 90
660 87 87
650 85 85
640 83 84
630 81 82
620 79 79
610 76 77
600 73 74
590 71 72
580 69 69
570 65 66
560 62 62
550 59 60
540 56 56
530 53 53
520 49 50
510 46 46
500 42 43
490 39 40
480 36 36
470 33 33
460 29 30
450 27 27
440 24 24
430 21 21
420 19 19
410 16 16
400 14 14
390 12 12
380 11 11
370 9 9
360 7 8
350 6 6
340 5 5
330 4 4
320 3 3
310 3 3
300 3 2
290 2 2
280 2 1
270 1 1
260 1 1
250 1 1
240 1 1
230 1 1
220 1 1-
210 1 1-
200 -- --

 

 

What's Next?

If you're interested in looking at more recent percentile scores, check out SAT historical percentiles from 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011.

Also, find out if the SAT predicts success and who uses SAT scores.

 

Disappointed with your scores? Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We've written a guide about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Justin Berkman
About the Author

Justin has extensive experience teaching SAT prep and guiding high school students through the college admissions and selection process. He is firmly committed to improving equity in education and helping students to reach their educational goals. Justin received an athletic scholarship for gymnastics at Stanford University and graduated with a BA in American Studies.



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