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SAT Score Percentiles (High-Precision 2016 Version)

Posted by Dr. Fred Zhang | Apr 12, 2016 9:43:25 PM

SAT General Info

 

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Are you looking for ultra high precision SAT percentiles?  I've calculated SAT percentiles to 6 digits of precision (and yes every digit can help especially if you're at the high end), with data updated for 2016.  

 

Recap: What Are SAT Score Percentiles?

If you need a refresher on what an SAT percentile is, I highly recommend this excellent article on how to think of SAT percentiles. In short, your SAT percentile ranking tells you how you did compared to everyone else. If you have a 65 percentile (sometimes spelled %tile), you scored better than 65% of students. Your percentile score is not at all like a test score out of 100 -- a test score usually refers to the fraction of questions you got right while a percentile represents the fraction of other students you beat.

 

What Are the Percentile Ranges for the SAT?

Most charts, including ones from the College Board itself, only give percentiles to two digits of precision. This leads to a lot of silly tables. For example, on the official College Board table, a ton of scores map to 99th percentile.  In fact, the 19 scores from 2220 to 2400 inclusive map to 99%.

This just isn't enough precision for many purposes.  For example, scoring a 2400 means you're in the top one out of 5000 test takers, whereas scoring a 2220 means you're the top one out of just 66 students -- yet both map to a 99 percentile.  If you're scoring near the top of the range, knowing high precision percentiles is very helpful.  

Even for students scoring less than near-perfect, higher precision can help. If you're competitive and want to get into a good college, every percent matters (just take a look at sports -- races are won by a hundredth of a second).  Suppose you find out you improved from 50th percentile to 51st percentile. This could be just a small jump from 50.4 to 50.5, or it could be a massive leap from 49.5 to 51.4.  One is nineteen times larger than the other. In other words, higher precision helps you understand more.

Without further ado, Here is the table, with data released from 2016:

 

Old SAT Scores, Imputed New SAT Scores, and High Precision 6-Digit Percentiles

Old SAT Score New SAT Score Percentile
2400 1600 99.9826
2390 1593 99.9581
2380 1587 99.9411
2370 1580 99.9157
2360 1573 99.8801
2350 1567 99.8413
2340 1560 99.7950
2330 1553 99.7354
2320 1547 99.6664
2310 1540 99.5923
2300 1533 99.5141
2290 1527 99.4276
2280 1520 99.3395
2270 1513 99.2459
2260 1507 99.1397
2250 1500 99.0273
2240 1493 98.9104
2230 1487 98.7855
2220 1480 98.6515
2210 1473 98.5063
2200 1467 98.3528
2190 1460 98.1924
2180 1453 98.0238
2170 1447 97.8469
2160 1440 97.6597
2150 1433 97.4642
2140 1427 97.2555
2130 1420 97.0358
2120 1413 96.8045
2110 1407 96.5559
2100 1400 96.2958
2090 1393 96.0276
2080 1387 95.7529
2070 1380 95.4650
2060 1373 95.1588
2050 1367 94.8398
2040 1360 94.5099
2030 1353 94.1634
2020 1347 93.7955
2010 1340 93.4120
2000 1333 93.0201
1990 1327 92.6195
1980 1320 92.2101
1970 1313 91.7854
1960 1307 91.3402
1950 1300 90.8779
1940 1293 90.3975
1930 1287 89.9012
1920 1280 89.3846
1910 1273 88.8429
1900 1267 88.2867
1890 1260 87.7155
1880 1253 87.1305
1870 1247 86.5287
1860 1240 85.9086
1850 1233 85.2697
1840 1227 84.6085
1830 1220 83.9373
1820 1213 83.2498
1810 1207 82.5362
1800 1200 81.7995
1790 1193 81.0451
1780 1187 80.2791
1770 1180 79.4952
1760 1173 78.6945
1750 1167 77.8770
1740 1160 77.0333
1730 1153 76.1735
1720 1147 75.3036
1710 1140 74.4108
1700 1133 73.4994
1690 1127 72.5711
1680 1120 71.6280
1670 1113 70.6719
1660 1107 69.7021
1650 1100 68.7169
1640 1093 67.7098
1630 1087 66.6887
1620 1080 65.6533
1610 1073 64.5884
1600 1067 63.5074
1590 1060 62.4244
1580 1053 61.3263
1570 1047 60.2113
1560 1040 59.0780
1550 1033 57.9348
1540 1027 56.7944
1530 1020 55.6413
1520 1013 54.4725
1510 1007 53.2926
1500 1000 52.1009
1490 993 50.9224
1480 987 49.7397
1470 980 48.5449
1460 973 47.3556
1450 967 46.1566
1440 960 44.9528
1430 953 43.7531
1420 947 42.5425
1410 940 41.3276
1400 933 40.1243
1390 927 38.9328
1380 920 37.7371
1370 913 36.5401
1360 907 35.3573
1350 900 34.1848
1340 893 33.0214
1330 887 31.8637
1320 880 30.7209
1310 873 29.5865
1300 867 28.4646
1290 860 27.3632
1280 853 26.2750
1270 847 25.1993
1260 840 24.1399
1250 833 23.1032
1240 827 22.0875
1230 820 21.0863
1220 813 20.1109
1210 807 19.1715
1200 800 18.2462
1190 793 17.3384
1180 787 16.4691
1170 780 15.6303
1160 773 14.8145
1150 767 14.0277
1140 760 13.2678
1130 753 12.5365
1120 747 11.8273
1110 740 11.1387
1100 733 10.4869
1090 727 9.8699
1080 720 9.2785
1070 713 8.7117
1060 707 8.1716
1050 700 7.6531
1040 693 7.1558
1030 687 6.6918
1020 680 6.2537
1010 673 5.8385
1000 667 5.4509
990 660 5.0868
980 653 4.7419
970 647 4.4099
960 640 4.1003
950 633 3.8120
940 627 3.5352
930 620 3.2731
920 613 3.0288
910 607 2.7996
900 600 2.5786
890 593 2.3712
880 587 2.1790
870 580 1.9942
860 573 1.8196
850 567 1.6576
840 560 1.5043
830 553 1.3616
820 547 1.2274
810 540 1.1014
800 533 0.9862
790 527 0.8816
780 520 0.7862
770 513 0.6972
760 507 0.6150
750 500 0.5381
740 493 0.4663
730 487 0.4022
720 480 0.3430
710 473 0.2897
700 467 0.2430
690 460 0.2014
680 453 0.1642
670 447 0.1312
660 440 0.1047
650 433 0.0831
640 427 0.0651
630 420 0.0484
620 413 0.0365
610 407 0.0278
600 400 0.0112

 

Methodology: How did we calculate the percentiles?  We used real official data released by the College Board on the exact number of students who earned a certain score. Then, we summed the exact number of students (not a survey, not an estimate, the exact number of students to the single individual) to get the percentile. Within a score group (e.g. those scoring exactly 2110), we presume exactly half are above, and half are below, so that 600 does not correspond to 0.0000 percentile, nor does a perfect 2400 correspond to 100.0000 percentile exactly. 

 

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Do the Percentiles Change Year to Year?

Within the old SAT, the percentiles have not changed much at all year to year in the last few years of administration.  In other words, from about January 2013 to January 2016 inclusive, the old SAT percentiles have remained the same. Therefore, you can use any of the 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 years for each other. However, you should not use very early years (e.g. 2005) because the test does suffer from some long-term drift.  

A note about the current (new) SAT vs. the old SAT. The table above is from the old SAT, with imputed new SAT scores. This means the new SAT scores are NOT from the new SAT directly. They are calculated from how we would mathematically, linearly, think about new SAT scores from old SAT scores. This is good enough if you want a rough mapping between the two. However, if you are looking for exactness, the above table is most useful for the old SAT, and I would wait for new SAT data to be released (likely 2017) to calculate an exact new SAT table -- no one has that data yet!

 

What’s Next?

Now that you know the ins and outs of national percentiles, check out what the average SAT scores are or take a look at the average SAT scores in your state.

Trying to figure out your SAT target score? Or maybe you’ve taken the SAT, but you’re not sure if your score makes you competitive. Check out our guide to SAT scores to help you develop your personal target score using the colleges you want to apply to.

Reaching for the stars? Check out what a good SAT score for the Ivy League looks like.

 

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Dr. Fred Zhang
About the Author

Fred is co-founder of PrepScholar. He scored a perfect score on the SAT and is passionate about sharing information with aspiring students. Fred graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor's in Mathematics and a PhD in Economics.



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