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What Are Good SAT Scores for Colleges? 101 Schools + Advice

Posted by Hannah Muniz | Mar 30, 2017 12:00:00 PM

SAT/ACT Score Target

 

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As you apply to college, it's important that you understand how high of an SAT score you'll need to aim for on test day. But what are good SAT scores for colleges? And not just any colleges, but your colleges specifically?

In this article, we’ll examine the general SAT scores needed for college and take a look at how these scores can vary due to differences in school prestige and competitiveness. We’ll then show you how to look for average SAT scores for colleges as well as how to set your own SAT goal score.

 

What Are Good SAT Scores for Colleges?

In reality, there is no single answer to this question because good SAT scores for universities vary depending on where you’re applying. This means that for some schools, a score of 1400 will be significantly high, whereas for others (i.e., top 20 schools) it’ll be fairly low. As you might've guessed, ultra-competitive, top-ranked schools typically look for some of the highest SAT scores in applicants.

Below is a chart containing the top 25 U.S. schools (as ranked by U.S. News) and their SAT scores for incoming students. This data highlights the SAT scores you'll need to attain in order to give yourself the best shot at securing admission into a highly competitive school.

For each school, we give you the average SAT scores, 25th-percentile scores, and 75th-percentile scores of incoming students. A 25th-percentile score means that 25 percent of students scored at or below this threshold; a 75th-percentile score means that 75 percent of students scored at or below this threshold. Thus, the 25th and 75th percentiles represent the middle 50 percent of students, or the average SAT score range for a particular school. Good SAT scores for universities are usually those in the 75th percentile or higher (in other words, anything above the middle 50 percent).

NOTE: For those curious about what kinds of SAT scores are required for Ivy League schools, I’ve bolded all eight Ivies in the table below, so you can easily compare SAT scores of Ivies to those of non-Ivies.

 

SAT Scores for Top 25 U.S. Schools

School

U.S. News National Ranking

25th-Percentile SAT Score

75th-Percentile SAT Score

Average SAT Score

Princeton

1

1480

1600

1540

Harvard

2

1480

1600

1540

University of Chicago

3 (tie)

1490

1560

1520

Yale

3 (tie)

1490

1600

1540

Columbia

5 (tie)

1450

1580

1520

Stanford

5 (tie)

1450

1580

1520

MIT

7

1480

1580

1520

Duke

8 (tie)

1480

1590

1540

UPenn

8 (tie)

1440

1570

1500

Johns Hopkins

10

1410

1550

1470

Dartmouth

11

1430

1580

1510

CalTech

12 (tie)

1520

1600

1560

Northwestern

12 (tie)

1430

1560

1500

Brown

14

1410

1560

1490

Cornell

15 (tie)

1390

1550

1480

Rice

15 (tie)

1430

1570

1510

Notre Dame

15 (tie)

1400

1550

1480

Vanderbilt

15 (tie)

1460

1580

1520

Washington University in St. Louis

19

1480

1570

1520

Emory

20 (tie)

1340

1510

1430

Georgetown

20 (tie)

1390

1550

1460

UC Berkeley

20 (tie)

1330

1530

1440

USC

23

1360

1530

1450

Carnegie Mellon

24 (tie)

1400

1550

1470

UCLA

24 (tie)

1250

1500

1370

University of Virginia (UVA)

24 (tie)

1330

1510

1400

 

As you can see, the SAT scores you’ll need to get for these top 25 schools vary slightly but are overall quite high. At present, UCLA has the lowest SAT scores: the middle 50 percent of its incoming students scored between 1250 and 1500, or the 80th and 98th percentiles.

By contrast, CalTech maintains the highest SAT scores. Only 25 percent of its incoming students scored at or lower than 1520 — an extremely impressive score in the 99th percentile! 75 percent of CalTech students also scored at or below a perfect 1600.

 

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Top schools are like center brownies: lots of people compete for them, but only a few will win access to one.

 

But what if you’re not interested in applying to only top-25 schools? To lend you a hand, we've gathered SAT score info for 76 additional schools. All of the schools we've selected for this list are relatively well known — some more so in their respective regions — and vary from large public institutions to small liberal arts colleges. Some are extremely competitive, whereas others are less competitive, but all are worth considering for college!

The institutions below are organized alphabetically. To find a specific school, use ctrl + F and type in the name of the school. (Note that all University of California schools use the acronym “UC.”)

 

SAT Scores for 76 Popular Schools

School

25th-Percentile SAT Score

75th-Percentile SAT Score

Average SAT Score

American University (AU)

1250

1430

1340

Amherst College

1420

1550

1490

Baylor University (BU)

1190

1390

1290

Binghamton University (BU)

1270

1440

1350

Boston College (BC)

1350

1510

1430

Boston University (BU)

1270

1450

1370

Bowdoin College

1440

1550

1500

Brigham Young University (BYU)

1220

1430

1310

California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly)

1200

1390

1300

Chapman University (CU)

1210

1380

1300

Claremont McKenna College (CMC)

1400

1540

1470

College of William & Mary (W&M)

1340

1510

1430

Drexel University (DU)

1190

1380

1270

George Washington University (GW, GWU)

1290

1460

1370

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

1360

1510

1430

Harvey Mudd College (HMC)

1450

1570

1510

Indiana University Bloomington (IU, IUB)

1140

1350

1250

Lehigh University 

1280

1480

1370

Loyola Marymount University (LMU)

1180

1370

1280

Miami University (MU)

1180

1410

1290

Michigan State University (MSU)

1050

1320

1190

Middlebury College

1370

1530

1450

New York University (NYU)

1350

1510

1410

Northeastern University

1370

1510

1440

Ohio State University (OSU)

1220

1430

1320

Pace University

1070

1250

1160

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)

1160

1350

1260

Pepperdine University

1220

1410

1320

Pitzer College (PIT)

1270

1470

1370

Pomona College (POM)

1450

1570

1500

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

1360

1540

1420

Rutgers University (RU)

1180

1400

1290

Scripps College (SCR)

1370

1510

1450

Stony Brook University — SUNY (SBU)

1210

1410

1300

Syracuse University (SU)

1130

1350

1240

Temple University (TU)

1100

1310

1210

Texas A&M University

1130

1350

1240

Texas Christian University (TCU)

1180

1350

1270

Trinity College

1280

1460

1360

Tufts University (TU)

1440

1550

1490

Tulane University (TU)

1330

1480

1400

UC Davis

1170

1400

1290

UC Irvine

1120

1350

1240

UC Riverside

1070

1290

1170

UC San Diego (UCSD)

1250

1450

1350

UC Santa Barbara (UCSB)

1220

1440

1360

UC Santa Cruz

1090

1350

1210

United States Military Academy (West Point, U.S. Military Academy)

1240

1440

1340

United States Naval Academy (U.S. Naval Academy)

1250

1450

1390

University of Alabama (UA)

1070

1320

1200

University of Arizona (UA)

1050

1290

1170

University of Cincinnati (UC)

1090

1320

1210

University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder)

1130

1350

1240

University of Connecticut (UConn)

1210

1400

1310

University of Florida (UF)

1250

1430

1340

University of Georgia (UGA)

1230

1410

1320

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

1310

1480

1390

University of Iowa (UI)

1080

1350

1210

University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass)

1170

1380

1270

University of Miami (UM)

1300

1470

1380

University of Michigan (UM)

1350

1520

1430

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (UM)

1250

1470

1360

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)

1280

1470

1370

University of Pittsburgh (Pitt)

1250

1430

1340

University of Rochester (UR)

1330

1490

1410

University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin)

1210

1440

1330

University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas)

1210

1430

1320

University of Vermont (UVM)

1170

1370

1270

University of Washington (UW)

1180

1410

1290

University of Wisconsin — Madison (UW)

1260

1460

1350

Vassar College

1390

1530

1470

Villanova University

1290

1460

1370

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)

1180

1390

1290

Wake Forest University (WFU)

1290

1490

1380

Wellesley College

1400

1550

1450

Williams College

1420

1570

1490

School

25th-Percentile SAT Score

75th-Percentile SAT Score

Average SAT Score

 

 

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The list above is only a fraction of the length of Santa's naughty-or-nice list.

 

How to Find Average SAT Scores for Colleges

In the charts above, I’ve supplied you with not only the 25th- and 75th-percentile SAT scores for each school, but also the average SAT scores of incoming students. These averages tell us briefly what kinds of SAT scores applicants should aim for in order to match (or, even better, exceed) the qualifications of previously admitted applicants.

But where can you find average SAT scores for colleges? The two best resources to look for averages are PrepScholar and school websites.

 

Method 1: Using the PrepScholar Database

We at PrepScholar maintain a robust database you can use to get more info on the SAT scores needed for college.

Begin by typing in “[School Name] PrepScholar” or “[School Name] PrepScholar SAT” on Google. For example, here's the page I got when I searched for “university of oregon prepscholar”:

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We have two types of pages for schools in our database: “Admission Requirements” and “SAT Scores and GPA.” On Google, click either of these pages. Once in our database, scroll down to look for a section detailing your school's SAT scores. Straight away, you should be able to spot your school's average SAT score (for the old and new SAT), which will be enveloped in a big banner like this:

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Because the SAT was only redesigned in early 2016, most schools have yet to release average SAT scores using the new 1600 scale (the old scoring system was out of 2400). As a result, our database's average SAT scores for the new SAT are conversions of pre-2016 average SAT scores; this means there will likely end up being slight discrepancies between our converted estimates and schools' actual averages. So just be aware of this situation as you search for average SAT scores for colleges online.

If you’re having trouble locating a specific school in our PrepScholar database, move on to Method 2.

 

Method 2: Using Official School Websites

This method involves looking for SAT score info on a school's official website. The easiest way to do this is to hop on Google, search for “[School Name] average SAT scores,” and then click any links corresponding to pages discussing SAT scores on your school's website.

Another, albeit less convenient, method is to browse your school's website and intermittently use ctrl + F to look for any mentions of SAT scores. The best pages to search are those offering info on admission statistics, the new freshman class, and facts and figures. If you're lucky, you may find an updated average that uses the redesigned scale. Towson University's Freshman Profile page reports average SAT scores for both the old and new SAT, while Eastern Michigan University reports an average SAT score of around 1100 (on the redesigned scale).

Still, most schools haven't updated their averages to reflect the new SAT scoring scale yet. Providence College, for example, gives us average SAT scores for each (former) section of the exam. Although the old sections differ from the new sections, we can convert these scores into new SAT section scores using conversion charts.

However, some schools may not offer any average SAT scores at all — instead, they'll likely report only the 25th- and 75th-percentile scores (as seen in the charts above). One example is the University of Oregon, which offers an estimated 50-percent score range of 1080-1290 using the new SAT scale. (Remember, the “middle 50 percent” simply means 25 percent of students scored 1080 or below, and 75 percent of students scored 1290 or below.) So although this range isn’t equivalent to an average score, per se, it does give you the info you ultimately need to know — that is, what scores are considered better than average at this particular school.

 

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This freakishly beautiful kitten is anything but average.

 

How to Set an SAT Goal Score

We've seen how widely SAT scores for universities can vary; now, it’s time to figure out what score you'll need for your colleges specifically — i.e., your SAT goal score. An SAT goal score is the score most likely to get you into at least one of the colleges to which you're applying (excluding safety schools) — ideally, all of them!

Because SAT expectations vary greatly by school, and because of the enormous array of institutions, your SAT goal score will be yours and yours alone. Other people may have higher or lower goal scores than you, but none of that matters. What does matter is your score’s likelihood of getting you into the college of your dreams!

To find your SAT goal score, follow these three simple steps.

 

Step 1: Make a Chart

First off, make a table for your schools and their 25th- and 75th-percentile SAT scores. You may download our worksheet or draw a table similar to the one below. On the left of your table, list all of the schools to which you're going to apply (excluding any safety schools you’re about 90-percent certain you’ll get into). And at the bottom, write "AVERAGE." Here's an example:

School Name

25th Percentile

75th Percentile

UT Austin

   

Texas A&M

   

Baylor

   

TCU

   

AVERAGE

   

 

 

Step 2: Find SAT Score Info Online

Your next step is to look for SAT score info for each of the schools in your table. To do this, follow the same steps as outlined in Method 1 for finding average SAT scores for colleges.

To reiterate, you will:

  1. Search for “[School Name] PrepScholar SAT” on Google and click on the PrepScholar page for your school.
  2. Go to the SAT section on the PrepScholar page and find a chart listing the 25th- and 75th-percentile scores (next to the average SAT score).
  3. Record the 25th- and 75th-percentile scores for the new SAT (1600 scale) in your chart.

In addition to PrepScholar’s database, you can also search for “[School Name] SAT scores” on Google and look for official web pages for your school offering SAT score info. Many schools will supply you with either an average SAT score or the middle 50 percent of SAT scores (what you want for your chart). As a reminder, the minimum of a 50-percent range is the 25th percentile, and the maximum is the 75th percentile.

Your chart should now look something like this:

School Name

25th Percentile

75th Percentile

UT Austin

1210

1440

Texas A&M

1130

1350

Baylor

1190

1390

TCU

1180

1350

AVERAGE

   

 

 

Step 3: Calculate Your Target Score

Now, you’ll use the info in your chart to calculate your target SAT score. Take the averages of the 25th and 75th percentiles and record them in the final row next to “AVERAGE.”

Your averages may not come out to an exact score; in this case, round your answer up or down to the nearest 10. For example, if your average were to come out to 1273, you'd round it down to 1270. If you were to get something like 1135, however, you'd round it up to 1140.

Here is our example chart again, with the averages filled out:

School Name

25th Percentile

75th Percentile

UT Austin

1210

1440

Texas A&M

1130

1350

Baylor

1190

1390

TCU

1180

1350

AVERAGE

1180

1380

 

The 75th-percentile average will be your SAT goal score. This is the score most likely to get you into at least one of the colleges on your list, if not more.

To ensure you have the best shot at getting into all of your schools, however, you may instead aim for the highest 75th-percentile score on your chart. Using the chart above, this would give you a new goal score of 1440 (the highest score on our chart, for UT Austin).

To figure out your goal scores for each SAT section (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing + Math), divide your goal score by 2. So a composite 1380 goal score would come out to a 690 EBRW goal score and a 690 Math goal score.

 

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My goal score? 100-percent completion on Breath of the Wild. (Brett Chalupa/Flickr)

 

Summary: What Are Good SAT Scores for Colleges?

Simply put, there is no one definition for "good" SAT scores for colleges. On the contrary, the SAT scores needed for college often vary significantly depending on schools' SAT expectations and where you’re applying. While some institutions may look for scores in the 99th percentile, others may accept scores closer to the national average.

In general, though, good SAT scores for colleges are those that are in the 75th percentile or higher for your schools. Such a score should elevate you well above the average SAT scores for your schools, ultimately allowing you to stand apart from other applicants.

To find average SAT scores for colleges, we recommend perusing either our PrepScholar database or your schools' official websites.

And to set an SAT goal score, follow these three easy steps:

  1. Make a chart with all of the schools to which you're applying (excluding safety schools) and their 25th and 75th percentiles.
  2. Find SAT score info online by using either the PrepScholar database or your schools' official websites. Record the 25th and 75th percentiles in your chart.
  3. Take the averages of each column; the average 75th-percentile score will be your SAT goal score. For an even better shot at getting into all of your schools (instead of just one or a couple), aim for the highest 75th-percentile score on your chart.

 

What’s Next?

Still curious about good SAT scores for colleges? Read all about average SAT scores to see how they vary for different groups of test takers, and learn what constitutes a great, good, and poor SAT score!

Need additional help with setting an SAT goal score? Check out our step-by-step guide on how to set a 2016 SAT target score for your schools.

Ready to get the best SAT score you can get? With our completely customizable program, you can target your weaknesses and hone the skills you'll need most for test day. We've also got tons of expert SAT tips and tricks to help you get the score you need for college!

 

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:

Compare Prep Methods

 

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Hannah Muniz
About the Author

Hannah graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in English and East Asian languages and cultures. After graduation, she taught English in Japan for two years via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.



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