The SAT underwent significant changes in 2016, so it's important to know how to set score goals based on the newest version of the test. The test is now out of 1600 points instead of 2400 (i.e., the maximum score on the old, pre-2016 SAT).
In this article, I’ll explain what a good score on the new SAT is and show you how to calculate an appropriate goal score for yourself based on where you're applying for college.
2017 National SAT Score Percentiles
In our article on how to find your target SAT score, we go over the most recent national statistics for SAT scores. The condensed table below shows the 2017 SAT percentile ranges to give you an idea of what kinds of benchmarks you can aim for on the SAT. All scores are composite scores (i.e., your Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing scores combined).
As a reminder, percentiles indicate what percentage of test takers you scored higher than on the SAT. Thus, the higher your percentile, the more test takers you've outperformed.
|SAT Composite Score Range
|90 to 99+
|80 to 90
|69 to 80
|59 to 69
|49 to 59
|40 to 49
|29 to 40
|19 to 29
|9 to 19
|1- to 9
For all students who take the SAT, the average SAT score is 1060. The 25th percentile score (higher than only 25% of scorers) is 910-920, and the 75th percentile score (higher than 75% of test takers) is between 1190 and 1200.
On the new SAT, then, we can say the following:
- >1200 = a very good score nationally
- 1060 = an average score nationally
- <910 = 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 to old scores (and vice versa).
What's a Good SAT Score Based on Your College Goals?
It’s important to consider your personal circumstances and goals when deciding what a good SAT score means for you.
If you're aiming for highly selective colleges, national averages aren't going to mean much to you since these schools typically only look at the top 1% of students. On the flip side, if you’re considering less selective schools, you might not need a super high SAT score to get accepted.
Nowadays, most colleges provide average SAT scores based on the new SAT scoring system (out of 1600); however, it's highly possible you'll come across a few schools that still have the old scoring system on their website.
We recommend searching for "[College Name] admissions requirements PrepScholar." Click on the first link to get to our college admissions page for that school. On this page, you'll see tons of information about your school's SAT scores and admissions statistics.
If you’re just looking up information for one school, use our old-to-new SAT score converters to find out what the new SAT score ranges are for a particular school. If a school you’re looking at only has information on Critical Reading and Math scores for the old 2400 SAT, you can use the Critical Reading score as an approximation of what you’ll want your new Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) score to be.
In general, you’ll want to aim for the 75th percentile score for your school (that is, higher than 75% of accepted students) to give yourself the best chance of getting accepted.
Let’s use Texas A&M as an example. Currently, its 75th percentile SAT score is 1360, its 25th percentile score is 1130, and its average score is 1250. Within this 75th percentile composite score, students earned around 690 on Math and around 680 on EBRW (based on the College Board conversion charts).
Thus, 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.
New SAT to Old SAT Score Conversion: Potential for Variation
Since the scoring on the new SAT is divided into two sections out of 800 points each rather than three sections out of 800 points each (as it was on the old 2400 SAT), it's safe to say that there might be some imbalance in score conversions.
Reading and Writing now make up a single section—Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, or EBRW—and count for 800 points total, whereas Math has the same 800-point weight as it did on the old SAT. If you’re especially good at math, you might have an advantage on the new SAT, since the Math section now makes up half of your score rather than one-third of it.
On the other hand, suppose you’re not so good at math but are reasonably strong at reading and writing. I won't encourage you to lower your standards for a good SAT score, so consider doing more extensive math prep. This will probably lead to a score disparity of only around 50 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.
Conclusion: A Good Score on the New SAT
On the new SAT, scores are out of 1600 instead of 2400 (as they were on the pre-2016 SAT).
Based on the most recent data released by the College Board in 2017, the average SAT score is 1060, the 75th percentile score is 1190-1200, and the 25th percentile score is 910-920.
By looking up colleges you want to attend and finding their 75th percentile scores for admitted students, you can calculate a more appropriate SAT score goal for yourself.
If the scores listed by your school are for the old SAT, simply use our conversion charts to get a solid approximation of the new composite score you'll need to beat. For schools that only provide average Critical Reading and Math scores for the old SAT, you can use the Critical Reading score to estimate what your new EBRW score should be.
Still wondering if you should take the SAT or the ACT? Our article explains how to decide between the two tests and figure out which one is ultimately right for you.
Need help studying for the SAT? Then check out our collection of top study tips to get some pointers. In addition, see what our top 21 SAT tips and tricks are.
For a comprehensive overview of all of the changes that came to the SAT in 2016, 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.