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SAT Score Percentiles (High-Precision Version)

Posted by Dr. Fred Zhang | Jan 3, 2020 9:00:00 PM

SAT General Info

 

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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
2400 1600 99.9826
2390 1600 99.9581
2380 1590 99.9411
2370 1590 99.9157
2360 1590 99.8801
2350 1580 99.8413
2340 1580 99.7950
2330 1570 99.7354
2320 1570 99.6664
2310 1560 99.5923
2300 1560 99.5141
2290 1527 99.4276
2280 1550 99.3395
2270 1550 99.2459
2260 1540 99.1397
2250 1540 99.0273
2240 1530 98.9104
2230 1530 98.7855
2220 1520 98.6515
2210 1520 98.5063
2200 1510 98.3528
2190 1510 98.1924
2180 1510 98.0238
2170 1500 97.8469
2160 1500 97.6597
2150 1490 97.4642
2140 1490 97.2555
2130 1480 97.0358
2120 1480 96.8045
2110 1470 96.5559
2100 1470 96.2958
2090 1460 96.0276
2080 1450 95.7529
2070 1450 95.4650
2060 1440 95.1588
2050 1440 94.8398
2040 1430 94.5099
2030 1430 94.1634
2020 1420 93.7955
2010 1410 93.4120
2000 1410 93.0201
1990 1400 92.6195
1980 1400 92.2101
1970 1390 91.7854
1960 1380 91.3402
1950 1380 90.8779
1940 1380 90.3975
1930 1370 89.9012
1920 1360 89.3846
1910 1350 88.8429
1900 1350 88.2867
1890 1340 87.7155
1880 1340 87.1305
1870 1330 86.5287
1860 1320 85.9086
1850 1320 85.2697
1840 1310 84.6085
1830 1300 83.9373
1820 1300 83.2498
1810 1290 82.5362
1800 1290 81.7995
1790 1280 81.0451
1780 1270 80.2791
1770 1270 79.4952
1760 1260 78.6945
1750 1250 77.8770
1740 1250 77.0333
1730 1240 76.1735
1720 1230 75.3036
1710 1230 74.4108
1700 1220 73.4994
1690 1210 72.5711
1680 1210 71.6280
1670 1200 70.6719
1660 1200 69.7021
1650 1190 68.7169
1640 1180 67.7098
1630 1180 66.6887
1620 1170 65.6533
1610 1160 64.5884
1600 1160 63.5074
1590 1150 62.4244
1580 1140 61.3263
1570 1140 60.2113
1560 1130 59.0780
1550 1120 57.9348
1540 1120 56.7944
1530 1110 55.6413
1520 1110 54.4725
1510 1100 53.2926
1500 1090 52.1009
1490 1090 50.9224
1480 1080 49.7397
1470 1070 48.5449
1460 1070 47.3556
1450 1060 46.1566
1440 1050 44.9528
1430 1050 43.7531
1420 1040 42.5425
1410 1030 41.3276
1400 1030 40.1243
1390 1020 38.9328
1380 1020 37.7371
1370 1010 36.5401
1360 1000 35.3573
1350 1000 34.1848
1340 990 33.0214
1330 980 31.8637
1320 980 30.7209
1310 970 29.5865
1300 960 28.4646
1290 950 27.3632
1280 950 26.2750
1270 940 25.1993
1260 930 24.1399
1250 930 23.1032
1240 920 22.0875
1230 910 21.0863
1220 910 20.1109
1210 900 19.1715
1200 890 18.2462
1190 890 17.3384
1180 880 16.4691
1170 870 15.6303
1160 870 14.8145
1150 860 14.0277
1140 850 13.2678
1130 850 12.5365
1120 840 11.8273
1110 830 11.1387
1100 830 10.4869
1090 820 9.8699
1080 810 9.2785
1070 810 8.7117
1060 800 8.1716
1050 800 7.6531
1040 790 7.1558
1030 780 6.6918
1020 780 6.2537
1010 770 5.8385
1000 760 5.4509
990 760 5.0868
980 750 4.7419
970 740 4.4099
960 740 4.1003
950 730 3.8120
940 730 3.5352
930 720 3.2731
920 710 3.0288
910 710 2.7996
900 700 2.5786
890 690 2.3712
880 690 2.1790
870 680 1.9942
860 670 1.8196
850 660 1.6576
840 650 1.5043
830 640 1.3616
820 630 1.2274
810 620 1.1014
800 610 0.9862
790 600 0.8816
780 590 0.7862
770 580 0.6972
760 570 0.6150
750 560 0.5381
740 550 0.4663
730 530-540 0.4022
720 520 0.3430
710 510 0.2897
700 500 0.2430
690 490 0.2014
680 480 0.1642
670 470 0.1312
660 460 0.1047
650 450 0.0831
640 440 0.0651
630 430 0.0484
620 420 0.0365
610 410 0.0278
600 400 0.0112

 

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.

 

What's Next?

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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Dr. Fred Zhang
About the Author

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.



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