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SAT Score Ranges: Understand Your Score vs Class Grades

Posted by Dr. Fred Zhang | Aug 13, 2018 1:00:00 PM

SAT General Info

 

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What’s the best possible SAT score and worst possible SAT score you could get? How do you understand SAT scores if you’re used to letter grades like A- or B+, or test scores like 93%? In this guide, we convert SAT scores into much more understandable class grades to help you interpret your SAT score.

 

What's the SAT Score SAT Range?

The pure SAT score range is 200 minimum, 800 maximum per section. The current SAT has two sections, so its total range is 400 to 1600. It's as simple as that!

The score range might not tell you much on its own, since it's rare that someone will get a perfect 1600 or as low as a 400. However, if you’re more used to thinking about class grades like A+, B-, etc. then we can map SAT scores into grades to give you a rough idea of the letter grade your SAT score corresponds to. Likewise, we can do the same if you’re more used to numerical class grades like 95% for a good test or 55% for a failing test.

 

How Can You Understand Your SAT Score If You're Used to Class Grades?

We’ll first present the results of our conversion of SAT scores to class grades, and then we’ll interpret the results. For those interested in technical details, we’ll then tell you how we got there. In the final section, we’ll then discuss some other interpretations of what a good SAT score is.

 

Conversion of New SAT Scores to Class Grade Equivalents

New SAT Score Numerical Class Grade Letter Class Grade
1560-1600 100.0 A+
1520-1550 99.9 A+
1490-1510 99.8 A+
1465-1480 99.7 A+
1450-1460 99.6 A+
1430-1440 99.5 A+
1420 99.4 A+
1410 99.3 A+
1390-1400 99.2 A+
1387 99.1 A+
1370-1380 99.0 A+
1367 98.9 A+
1350-1360 98.8 A+
1347 98.7 A+
1340 98.6 A+
1333 98.5 A+
1327 98.4 A+
1320 98.3 A+
1310 98.2 A+
1300 98.1 A+
1293 97.9 A+
1287 97.8 A+
1280 97.7 A+
1273 97.6 A+
1267 97.5 A+
1260 97.4 A+
1253 97.2 A+
1247 97.1 A+
1240 97.0 A
1233 96.8 A
1227 96.7 A
1220 96.5 A
1213 96.4 A
1207 96.2 A
1200 96.0 A
1193 95.9 A
1187 95.7 A
1180 95.5 A
1173 95.3 A
1167 95.1 A
1160 94.9 A
1153 94.7 A
1147 94.5 A
1140 94.3 A
1133 94.1 A
1127 93.9 A
1120 93.7 A
1110 93.3 A
1100 93.0 A-
1093 92.7 A-
1087 92.5 A-
1080 92.2 A-
1073 91.9 A-
1067 91.7 A-
1060 91.4 A-
1053 91.1 A-
1047 90.8 A-
1040 90.5 A-
1033 90.2 A-
1027 89.9 B+
1020 89.6 B+
1013 89.3 B+
1007 89.0 B+
1000 88.7 B+
993 88.4 B+
987 88.1 B+
980 87.8 B+
973 87.5 B+
967 87.2 B+
960 86.9 B
953 86.6 B
947 86.2 B
940 85.9 B
933 85.6 B
927 85.3 B
920 84.9 B
913 84.6 B
907 84.3 B
900 83.9 B
893 83.6 B
887 83.2 B
880 82.9 B-
873 82.5 B-
867 82.1 B-
860 81.7 B-
853 81.3 B-
847 80.9 B-
840 80.4 B-
833 80.0 C+
827 79.5 C+
820 79.0 C+
813 78.5 C+
807 78.0 C+
800 77.5 C+
793 77.0 C
787 76.5 C
780 76.0 C
773 75.5 C
767 75.0 C
760 74.5 C
753 74.0 C
747 73.5 C
740 73.0 C-
733 72.4 C-
727 71.9 C-
720 71.3 C-
713 70.6 C-
707 69.8 D+
700 69.0 D+
693 68.1 D+
687 67.3 D+
680 66.4 D
673 65.5 D
667 64.6 D
660 63.6 D
653 62.5 D
647 61.2 D
640 59.3 F
633 57.2 F
627 55.2 F
620 53.1 F
613 51.2 F
607 49.2 F
600 47.3 F
593 45.4 F
587 43.5 F
580 41.7 F
573 39.9 F
567 38.1 F
560 36.3 F
553 34.6 F
547 32.8 F
540 31.1 F
533 29.5 F
527 27.9 F
520 26.4 F
513 24.8 F
507 23.4 F
500 21.9 F
493 20.4 F
487 18.9 F
480 17.5 F
473 16.1 F
467 14.7 F
460 13.4 F
453 12.1 F
447 10.9 F
440 9.7 F
433 8.6 F
427 7.7 F
420 6.6 F
413 5.7 F
407 5.0 F
400 3.2 F

 

How can you read this table? Suppose you received a 1000 on the current SAT. You'd want to find this row:

New SAT Score Numerical Class Grade Letter Class Grade
1000 88.7 B+

 

Under Numerical Class Grade, 88.7 means that this SAT score is like getting a class score of 88.7% (or round to 89%) at the end of the year. Imagine getting a 88.7 in history, English, or math. Under Letter Class Grade, the B+ means this SAT score is similar to getting the class letter grade B+.

 

 

What Does the Conversion Table From SAT Score to Class Grades Really Show You?

To put it simply, the conversion table takes your SAT score and tells you how well you're doing in terms of class grades. You're used to class grades because you've seen them since you began school, but this might be the first time you've looked at SAT scores. In the table above, we've taken something you might be unfamiliar with and put it in terms of something you know and understand.

To be more precise, the above table matches SAT scores to class grades based on percentiles. The SAT percentile is calculated from a recent group of SAT scores. The class grades percentile is based on a comprehensive academic survey of common grades given out in college (which closely match US high school grades culturally).

In other words, to go from a new SAT score of 1000 to 88.7%, we looked at the SAT percentile of 1000 (it happens to be right about 50%), and then we used a comprehensive academic survey which showed that the 50th percentile class grade across many colleges was an 88.7%, or a B+.

Imagine getting a B+ in one of your classes. Would you be happy with that grade? Would you consider yourself to know the material well? You can then apply those feelings to your SAT score and use them to plan your next steps, such as if you'd like to retake the exam.

 

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Interesting Notes from the Conversion Table

First, you should note that the distribution of SAT scores and grades are quite different. There is a lot of resolution at the top end of the SAT scale—a 1250 and a 1600 are 350 points apart, yet they all map to A+. Read that again; it's not a mistake: a 1600 and a 1250 are both A+.

Classes oftentimes do not do a good job of distinguishing great students from the truly spectacular. In a class of 20, you might have two people get an A+, which seems like a small number, until you realize that in that same class of 20, if it represented all students in the USA, you would only have two people as well who get 1250 or above. The SAT is useful to colleges, especially very selective ones, because it distinguishes the 90th percent from the 99th percent.

Also, class grades and SAT scores are equally good at resolving the performance of middle-of-the-pack students. When you go from an SAT score of 680 to a 1110—just a range of 430—you're going from a straight D to an A. For students who are near the median of their class or a bit below, SAT scores and class grades both have decent resolution.

Finally, you may notice that both SAT scores and class grades have non-zero starting points, which makes sense when you apply it to what you know about the kinds of grades that are given out. When was the last time you heard of someone getting a 30 out of 100 as their final grade for a class? Less than 4% of class grades are failing grades. Likewise, when was the last time you heard someone get less than a 680 on the SAT?

Even though the SAT goes all the way down to 400, fewer than 2% of people get less than a 680. Just like it's a good idea to think of class grades as starting from a D and not a 0, it's better to think of SATs as starting from 680 and not 400.

 

Can SAT Scores Really Be Mapped to Class Grades?

They certainly can! However, I should warn you, such mappings are an inexact science. Some issues you should be aware of include:

SATs and classes test very different things. The SAT is a mostly-multiple-choice test given over the course of a few hours on a Saturday morning (usually). Classes consist of hundreds of hours of schoolwork. The SAT is a solitary activity. Classes include working with teachers and classmates.  The two measure different things. Getting a B+ in class does NOT mean you'll get a 1000 for sure on the SAT, and vice versa.

Class grades are not rigorous. Is an A- a good grade? If your teacher gives half the class a straight A, then an A- is a bad grade. Conversely, if your teacher gives out only one A a year, you might have the top score. An A in art studies means something very different than getting an A in computer science. Thus, you can't look at the conversion too rigidly.

With that caveat out of the way, you're on the right track if you think of the table above as "lining up" different types of races. For example, you can't compare a 100-meter dash with the marathon, but you can say 10 seconds is an "Olympic level" 100-meter dash time, and 2h10min is an "Olympic level" marathon time.

 

What’s Next?

Wondering what SAT score you should be aiming for? Learn how to develop your target score based on the colleges you're interested in.

Not happy with where your SAT score places you? We're here to help! We have tons of guides specifically designed to raise your SAT score. To get you started, check out these 21 tips to improving your SAT score.

Want to prepare for the SAT? Taking practice tests is one of the best ways to see how you're doing and raise your score. Check out our collection of free and official practice SATs for you to use.

 

Disappointed with your scores? Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We've written a guide about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

Get eBook: 5 Tips for 160+ Points

 

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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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