Are you looking for ultra high-precision SAT percentiles? Official SAT percentiles released by the College Board only go as far as the ones place—this means you'll see only whole numbers such as 2, 56, and 93, without any decimals. But this isn't accurate enough for some test takers.
For this article, I've calculated SAT percentiles to six digits of precision (and, yes, every digit can help, especially if you're scoring at the high end!).
Refresher: What Are SAT Score Percentiles?
If you need a detailed refresher on what an SAT percentile is, I highly recommend this excellent article on how to use SAT percentiles to your advantage.
In short, your SAT percentile ranking tells you how you did compared with everyone else. So if you got a 65th percentile score (sometimes spelled %ile), this means you scored better than 65% of all other test takers.
Note that your percentile score is not at all like a test score out of 100. While a test score refers to the fraction of questions you got right, a percentile represents the fraction of test takers you beat.
What Are the Percentile Ranges for the SAT?
Most charts, including those from the College Board itself, only give SAT percentiles to two digits of precision. This leads to a lot of silly tables. For example, on the official percentiles table, a ton of SAT scores map to the 99th percentile. In fact, on the composite scores chart, 10 scores (from 1510 to 1600) correspond to the 99th percentile.
This just isn't enough precision for many reasons. For example, even though a score of 1510 is in the same percentile as a perfect 1600 is, you can rest assured that far fewer test takers actually get a full 1600 than they do a 1510. If you're scoring near the top of the score range, knowing high-precision SAT percentiles can be very helpful.
Even for students scoring less than near-perfect SAT scores, high-precision percentiles can help. If you're competitive and want to get into a good college, every percent matters (just take a look at sports, wherein races are often won by mere hundredths of a second!).
Suppose you find out you improved from the 50th to the 51st percentile. This could be just a small jump from 50.4 to 50.5, or it could be a massive leap from 49.5 to 51.4. One is 19 times larger than the other! In other words, high-precision SAT percentiles help you understand more about your own SAT scoring abilities and improvements.
High-Precision, 6-Digit SAT Percentiles Chart
Without further ado, here is our high-precision SAT percentiles table.
Note: To make this table, I used official SAT score data from 2015. So why not 2020 data? 2015 was the last time the College Board released charts detailing the exact number of test takers that got every possible score on the SAT. (Nowadays, they only release ranges.) But since percentiles don't change much from year to year, these high-precision percentiles should still hold true today.
|Old SAT Score||New SAT Score||Percentile|
Methodology: How Did We Calculate These High-Precision SAT Percentiles?
To calculate the SAT score percentiles above, we used real data released by the College Board on the exact number of students who earned a certain score. Then, we summed the exact number of students (not a survey, not an estimate—the precise number of students to the single individual) to get the percentile.
Within a score group (e.g., those scoring exactly 2110), we presume exactly half are above and half are below so that 600 does not correspond to 0.0000 percentile, nor does a perfect 2400 correspond to 100.0000 percentile exactly.
A note about the current SAT vs the old SAT: The table above is from the old SAT, with imputed new SAT scores. This means that current SAT scores are not directly from the current SAT; they are calculated from how old SAT scores convert to new SAT scores. This is good enough if you want a rough mapping between the two. Unfortunately, the College Board no longer releases exact numbers of test takers for each score, so we can't update this table for 2020 (though the percentiles shouldn't have changed much anyway!).
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Do SAT Percentiles Change From Year to Year?
As I mentioned above, SAT score percentiles don't change much from year to year, so you can use any of the 2013, 2014, 2015 scores for each other. However, you shouldn't use very early years (e.g., 2005) since the test does suffer from some long-term drift.
It's also important to note that the SAT underwent a massive redesign in March 2016, shifting from a 2400-point scale to a 1600-point scale. Despite this change, SAT percentiles—even those based on the old SAT (e.g., 2015 and 2016)—haven't changed much, so you can still use the chart above to estimate high-precision percentiles for the current SAT.
Now that you know the ins and outs of national SAT percentiles, check out what the average SAT scores are, or take a look at the average SAT scores in your state.
Trying to figure out your SAT target score? Maybe you've taken the SAT but aren't sure whether your score makes you competitive. If so, check out our guide to SAT scores to help you develop your personal target score using the colleges you want to apply to.
Reaching for the stars? Check out what a good SAT score for the Ivy League looks like.
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Fred is co-founder of PrepScholar. He scored a perfect score on the SAT and is passionate about sharing information with aspiring students. Fred graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor's in Mathematics and a PhD in Economics.