SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

SAT Percentiles and Score Rankings (Updated 2024)

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Have you taken the SAT recently and need help deciding whether you should retake the test? Or maybe you haven’t taken the SAT yet but want to develop a target score.

One of the best ways to understand your SAT scores is to understand your SAT score percentiles. You can learn to maximize your study time, find the biggest score gains, and impress your dream school by understanding percentile rankings. Read on for a guide to maximizing your SAT score—and your college admissions chances—by using SAT score percentiles.

 

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What Are SAT Score Percentiles?

In addition to the composite score you get on the SAT (i.e., that number between 400 and 1600), you'll get a percentile ranking, ranging from 1 to 99. The SAT gives you a percentile ranking for your overall composite score as well as for each of the two section scores: Reading and Writing and Math.

Your percentile tells you how you did on the SAT compared with everyone else who took the test. For example, if you got a composite percentile of 76, this means you scored higher than 76% of students on the whole test. If you got a percentile of 47 on the Math section, you did better than 47% of students on SAT Math.

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An example of an SAT score report with percentiles.
(College Board / College Board)

 

Your percentile score is not like a grade out of 100. For instance, if you get a percentile of 90, this doesn't mean you got exactly 90% of the questions right. It just means that compared with everyone who took the SAT, you scored higher than 90% of them. (For more info on how the SAT is scored, see our scoring guide.)

So, why do percentiles matter? Colleges use percentiles to compare you with other students. If you got, say, an SAT score in the 90th percentile, this would make you competitive for many schools since you scored better than 90% of students nationwide.

Paying attention to your percentile ranking, as well as your composite score, can give you the best idea of your performance and help you make strategic choices about which colleges to apply to.

 

What Are the Percentile Ranges for the SAT?

OK, so you get that percentile rankings are important. But if you haven’t taken the SAT yet or have taken it and plan to retake it, what composite SAT score should you shoot for in order to get a certain percentile ranking?

Luckily, the College Board releases data about composite scores and matching percentile rankings to help you figure this out. These numbers change slightly from year to year, but we have the most recent info from 2024.

We've summarized the SAT percentile ranges, based on students who've taken the exam in the past three school years.  Just find your score to see your estimated percentile.

SAT Composite Score  Percentile Score
1600-1570 99+
1560-1530 99
1520-1500 98
1490-1480 97
1470-1450 96
1440-1430 95
1420-1410 94
1400 93
1390-1380 92
1370 91
1360-1350 90
1340 89
1330 88
1320-1310 87
1300 86
1290 85
1280 84
1270 83
1260 82
1250 81
1240 80
1230 79
1220 78
1210 76
1200 75
1190 74
1180 73
1170 71
1160 70
1150 69
1140 67
1130 66
1120 64
1110 63
1100 61
1090 60
1080 58
1070 56
1060 55
1050 53
1040 52
1030 50
1020 48
1010 47
1000 45
990 43
980 42
970 40
960 39
950 37
940 36
930 34
920 32
910 31
900 29
890 28
880 26
870 25
860 23
850 22
840 20
830 19
820 17
810 16
800 14
790 13
780 12
770 10
760 9
750 8
740 7
730 6
720 5
710 4
700-690 3
680-670 2
660-620 1
610-400 -1

 

Something to note about these percentile ranks is that they change the fastest with the middle scores. For example, the difference between 1450 and 1600—the highest possible score—is only 4 percentile points, 96 to 99.

However, the same point gap between 1100 and 1250 has a vast percentile difference—61 to 81. This means that if you scored 1100 or lower, increasing your overall composite by just 150 points would give a vast boost to your percentile rank and your admissions competitiveness!

 

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SAT Percentile Charts by Section

We also have data on percentile rankings for score ranges in Reading and Writing and Math. Check out the chart below to see how your scores stack up.

Section Score Range SAT R&W Percentiles SAT Math Percentiles
780-800 99+ 98 to 99+
760-780 99 to 99+ 96 to 98
740-760 97 to 99 94 to 96
720-740 95 to 97 93 to 94
700-720 93 to 95 91 to 93
680-700 90 to 93 89 to 91
660-680 87 to 90 86 to 89
640-660 83 to 87 83 to 86
620-640 78 to 83 80 to 83
600-620 73 to 78 76 to 80
580-600 68 to 73 71 to 76
560-580 62 to 68 66 to 71
540-560 56 to 62 60 to 66
520-540 50 to 56 53 to 60
500-520 43 to 50 46 to 53
480-500 37 to 43 41 to 46
460-480 30 to 37 35 to 41
440-460 24 to 30 30 to 35
420-440 18 to 24 24 to 30
400-420 13 to 18 19 to 24
380-400 8 to 13 13 to 19
360-380 5 to 8 8 to 13
340-360 2 to 5 4 to 8
320-340 1 to 2 2 to 4
300-320 1 1 to 2
280-300 1- to 1 1
260-280 1- 1- to 1
240-260 1- 1-
220-240 1- 1-
200-220 1- 1-

Source: SAT Understanding Scores 2023

Again, note that the ranks change dramatically toward the middle scores: 500 in Reading and Writing is only the 43th percentile, but 600 is 73rd. In other words, a 100-point improvement—which is very manageable with some smart studying—could transform your score from poor to good.

Note that the Math curve is more competitive near the top than the Reading and Writing curve is. A 760 is in the 96th percentile on Math but in the 99th percentile on Reading and Writing, and a 700 is in the 91st percentile on Math but in the 93rd percentile on Reading and Writing. This means that if you were aiming for the same percentile on both sections, you'd have to get a higher score on Math than you would on Reading and Writing.

For more info on SAT scores and rankings, check out our guide to average SAT scores in which we also look at score breakdowns by gender and ethnic group.

 

How Can Knowing Your SAT Percentile Help You?

We know that percentiles are important and that, in some cases, a relatively small composite score increase can have a huge effect on your percentile ranking.

However, your target composite score for the colleges you want to apply to is the most important. While percentiles help college admissions officers compare your scores, schools also have their own score ranges that typically don’t change much from year to year.

To find a college’s SAT score ranges, search "[School Name] SAT scores PrepScholar" on Google to find our Admission Requirements page with its SAT/ACT score ranges and info on GPA ranges and overall competitiveness. For more tips on how to use this strategy (and for a table you can fill out for your specific colleges), see our guide on what a good SAT score is.

But what about colleges that are test optional? Our experts explain how SAT scores can still help you get into test optional schools in this article. 

 

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Maximize your study time by setting a personal SAT target score.

 

Finally, SAT percentile rankings can be a useful tool for you. Especially if you’re deciding whether or not to retake the SAT, percentiles really help put your SAT scores in context. For example, the difference between your 700 in Reading and Writing and 600 in Math might not seem enormous, but that score is in the 93rd percentile, while that Math score is in the 76th percentile. A huge difference!

This means you can get more bang for your buck if you focus on the Math section for your retake. Increasing your Math score by 100 points can raise your percentile from 76 to 91. However, raising your Reading and Writing score from 700 to 800, though super impressive, only improves your percentile ranking by 5%.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should ignore Reading and Writing—in fact, a gain of just 50 points would put you in the 99th percentile! But recognizing that you stand to gain more with Math can ultimately help you prioritize your study time better.

 

What’s Next?

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

Trying to figure out your SAT target score? Or maybe you took the SAT but aren't sure whether your score is competitive. Our guide can help you develop a personal SAT target score based on the colleges you're applying to.

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

 

 

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Halle Edwards
About the Author

Halle Edwards graduated from Stanford University with honors. In high school, she earned 99th percentile ACT scores as well as 99th percentile scores on SAT subject tests. She also took nine AP classes, earning a perfect score of 5 on seven AP tests. As a graduate of a large public high school who tackled the college admission process largely on her own, she is passionate about helping high school students from different backgrounds get the knowledge they need to be successful in the college admissions process.



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