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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.

 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 8 8 350 7 7 340 6 6 330 5 5 320 4 4 310 3 3 300 3 3 290 2 2 280 2 2 270 2 2 260 1 1 250 1 1 240 1 1 230 1 1 220 1 1 210 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.

Justin Berkman