The SAT underwent significant changes in 2016, and you should be prepared to adjust your score goals accordingly. The new SAT is out of 1600 points instead of 2400, so your scores will end up looking a lot different.
In this article, I’ll show you what a good score on the new SAT might mean and how you can calculate a useful goal for yourself within the new scoring system.
National Average SAT Scores, 2016
In our article on how to find your target score, we go over the national statistics for scores on the new SAT. We have a condensed table below with the new SAT percentiles to give you an idea of these new benchmarks.
|SAT Composite Score Range||Percentile Score|
|1340-1600||90 to 99+|
|1250-1340||80 to 90|
|1180-1250||69 to 80|
|1130-1180||60 to 69|
|1080-1130||50 to 60|
|1030-1080||40 to 50|
|980-1030||30 to 40|
|920-980||20 to 30|
|830-920||10 to 20|
|400-830||1 to 10|
For all students who take the SAT, the average SAT score is a 1080. The 25th percentile score (the cutoff for the lowest 25% of scorers) is a 950, and the 75th percentile score (higher than 75% of test takers) is between a 1210 and a 1220.
So, on the new SAT, we can say that:
> 1220 = a very good score nationally
1080 = an average score nationally
< 950 = a very low score nationally
If you’re curious about how the scores on the current and old SAT relate to one another, check out our article on how to convert your new SAT scores back to old SAT scores.
Finding a Good SAT Score for Your College Goals
It’s important to consider your personal circumstances and goals in deciding what a good SAT score means. If you’re aiming for very selective colleges, national averages are not going to mean much to you, since these schools are really only looking at the top one percent of students. On the flip side, if you’re looking at less selective schools, you might not need to set a super high score goal to be accepted.
At this point, most colleges still only provide average scores based on the old out-of-2400 SAT on their websites. We recommend you Google “[college name] admissions requirements PrepScholar” and click on the first link to get to our college admissions pages, which provide information about new SAT scores and statistics.
Otherwise, if you’re just looking up information on one school, you can use our old-to-new SAT score converters to find out what the new SAT score ranges are for a particular school. If you find that a school you’re looking at only has information on old Critical Reading and Math scores for the 2400 SAT, you can use the Critical Reading scores as an approximation of what you’ll want your new Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score to be.
In general, you’ll want to aim for the 75th percentile score (higher than 75% of accepted students) to end up with the best chance of being accepted.
Let’s use Texas A&M as an example. Currently, the 75th percentile score is an 1360, the 25th percentile score is an 1130, and the average score is a 1250. Within the 75th percentile composite score of 1360, students earned a 700 on Math and around a 680 on Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (based on the College Board conversion charts). If you’re hoping to attend Texas A&M, the 75th percentile composite score of 1360 should be your goal score on the new SAT.
The football stadium at Texas A&M. If you like football, this is probably a good place for you.
Potential for Variation
Since the scoring on the new SAT is divided into two sections out of 800 points each rather than three sections, this means that there may be some imbalance in score conversions. Reading and Writing are compressed into Evidence-Based Reading and Writing so that they make up 800 points total, while Math is given the same 800 point weight as it had before. If you’re especially good at math, you may have an advantage on the new SAT, since Math now makes up half of your score rather than one-third.
On the other hand, suppose you’re not so good at math, and reading and writing are your strengths. I won't encourage you to lower your standards for a good score, but it might mean that you should consider doing more extensive math prep. This will probably only constitute a score disparity of around fifty points or so, but you should be prepared to contend with slightly lower scores initially if your math skills are weaker.
If this seems like something you would make, then you're probably going to be fine on the Math section.
On the new SAT, scores are out of 1600 instead of 2400. Based on the most recent data released by the College Board, the average SAT score is 1080, the 75th percentile score is around a 1220, and the 25th percentile score is 950 nationally.
Look up colleges to find the 75th percentile scores of admitted students to calculate a more appropriate SAT score goal for yourself. If the scores the schools list are for the old SAT, use our conversion charts to get a solid approximation of the new composite score to beat. For schools that only provide average Critical Reading and Math scores for the old SAT, just use the Critical Reading score to estimate what your new Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score should be.
Finally, you should take all of this advice with a grain of salt. We won’t know for sure what averages look like on the new test until it's been administered for a few years and all schools update their stats for the new SAT. The numbers that you find using the suggestions in this article should only be treated as a rough estimate of what a good score might mean for you on the 1600 scale.
Still wondering if you should take the new SAT? Read our article on how to decide between the new SAT and the ACT.
If you're looking to read up on the new test, check out this collection of top study tips for some pointers.
For a comprehensive overview of all the changes that came to the SAT this spring, read our complete guide to the new SAT.
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Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.