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What Are Good SAT Scores for Colleges? 101 Schools + Advice

Posted by Hannah Muniz | May 23, 2018 12:00:00 PM

SAT/ACT Score Target

 

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As you apply to college, it's important to understand how high of an SAT score you will need to aim for on test day. This raises the question: what are good SAT scores for colleges? And not just any colleges, but your colleges specifically?

In this article, we’ll examine the SAT scores needed for college and how these scores can vary due to differences in factors such as school prestige and competitiveness. We’ll then show you how to look for average SAT scores for colleges and how to set your own SAT goal score.

 

What Are Good SAT Scores for Colleges?

First off, what are good SAT scores for colleges? In reality, there's no single answer to this question because good SAT scores for universities vary depending on where you’re applying. For some schools, an SAT score of 1400 will be significantly high, whereas for others (i.e., top-20 colleges) it’ll be fairly low.

As you might've guessed, ultra-competitive, top-ranked schools typically look for some of the highest SAT scores in applicants.

Below is a chart containing the top 25 US schools (as ranked by US News) and their ranges of SAT scores for incoming students. This data highlights the SAT score you'll need to get in order to give yourself the best shot at securing admission into a highly competitive school. For each school, we give you the average SAT score, 25th percentile score, and 75th percentile score of incoming students. 

A 25th percentile score means that 25% of students scored at or below this threshold, while a 75th percentile score means that 75% of students scored at or below this threshold. Thus, the 25th and 75th percentiles represent the middle 50% SAT scores of admitted applicants—the average SAT score range for a particular school. Good SAT scores for universities are usually those in the 75th percentile or higher (i.e., anything above the middle 50%).

Note: For those curious about what kinds of SAT scores are required for Ivy League schools, I’ve bolded all eight Ivies in the table below. This should make it easier to compare the SAT scores of Ivies with those of non-Ivies.

 

SAT Scores for Top 25 US Schools

School

US News Ranking (2018)

25th %ile SAT Score

75th %ile SAT Score

Avg SAT Score

Princeton

1

1470

1590

1520

Harvard

2

1470

1600

1540

University of Chicago

3 (tie)

1490

1590

1540

Yale

3 (tie)

1490

1600

1540

Columbia

5 (tie)

1470

1590

1530

MIT

5 (tie)

1480

1590

1520

Stanford

5 (tie)

1450

1590

1520

University of Pennsylvania (Penn)

8

1450

1570

1510

Duke

9

1480

1590

1540

Caltech

10

1530

1600

1560

Dartmouth

11 (tie)

1410

1580

1500

Johns Hopkins

11 (tie)

1460

1570

1510

Northwestern

11 (tie)

1480

1580

1510

Brown

14 (tie)

1440

1580

1500

Cornell

14 (tie)

1410

1570

1480

Rice

14 (tie)

1450

1570

1510

Vanderbilt

14 (tie)

1480

1590

1530

Notre Dame

18 (tie)

1410

1550

1490

Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL)

18 (tie)

1460

1570

1510

Georgetown

20

1390

1550

1460

Emory

21 (tie)

1350

1520

1430

UC Berkeley

21 (tie)

1330

1540

1440

UCLA

21 (tie)

1250

1500

1370

University of Southern California (USC)

21 (tie)

1360

1540

1450

Carnegie Mellon

25 (tie)

1430

1560

1490

University of Virginia (UVA)

25 (tie)

1330

1510

1410

 

As you can see from this chart, the SAT scores you’ll need for these top 25 schools vary slightly but are overall quite high. Of these schools, UCLA has the lowest SAT scores: the middle 50% of its incoming students scored between 1250 and 1500, or the 82nd and 99th percentiles.

By contrast, Caltech maintains the highest SAT scores: only 25% of incoming students scored at or below 1530—an extremely impressive SAT score in the 99th+ percentile! Even more impressive, a whopping three-fourths of Caltech students scored at or below a perfect 1600.

 

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Top schools are like center brownies: lots of people compete for them, but only a few will win access to one.

 

But what if you’re not interested in applying to only top-25 schools?

To lend you a hand, we've gathered SAT score information for 76 additional schools. All of the schools selected for this list are relatively well known—some more so in their respective regions—and vary from large public institutions to small liberal arts colleges. Whereas some are extremely competitive, others are more laid-backbut all are worth considering for college!

All schools below are organized alphabetically. To find a specific school, use ctrl + F to type in the name of the school you're searching for. Note that University of California schools are listed using "UC."

 

SAT Scores for 76 Popular Schools

School

25th %ile SAT Score

75th %ile SAT Score

Avg SAT Score

American University (AU)

1230

1410

1320

Amherst College

1430

1570

1500

Baylor University (BU)

1200

1380

1290

Binghamton University (BU)

1290

1440

1360

Boston College (BC)

1350

1510

1440

Boston University (BU)

1290

1470

1370

Bowdoin College

1440

1560

1500

Brigham Young University (BYU)

1220

1420

1320

California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly)

1200

1420

1300

Chapman University (CU)

1200

1380

1290

Claremont McKenna College (CMC)

1430

1550

1490

College of William & Mary (W&M)

1340

1510

1430

Drexel University (DU)

1160

1370

1270

The George Washington University (GW, GWU)

1280

1450

1370

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

1380

1530

1450

Harvey Mudd College (HMC)

1450

1570

1510

Indiana University Bloomington (IU, IUB)

1140

1350

1240

Lehigh University 

1300

1480

1370

Loyola Marymount University (LMU)

1200

1380

1290

Miami University (MU)

1210

1420

1300

Michigan State University (MSU)

1050

1310

1190

Middlebury College

1360

1540

1450

New York University (NYU)

1320

1500

1410

Northeastern University

1400

1530

1470

Ohio State University (OSU)

1240

1440

1330

Pace University

1030

1220

1140

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)

1180

1370

1270

Pepperdine University

1190

1390

1290

Pitzer College (PIT)

1310

1510

1400

Pomona College (POM)

1430

1560

1500

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

1360

1540

1420

Rutgers University (RU)

1190

1410

1300

Scripps College (SCR)

1370

1500

1430

Stony Brook University—SUNY (SBU)

1210

1430

1310

Syracuse University (SU)

1170

1370

1270

Temple University (TU)

1120

1330

1230

Texas A&M University

1130

1360

1250

Texas Christian University (TCU)

1160

1360

1260

Trinity College

1200

1440

1320

Tufts University (TU)

1440

1550

1490

Tulane University (TU)

1340

1480

1410

UC Davis

1160

1410

1290

UC Irvine

1120

1370

1250

UC Riverside

1110

1320

1190

UC San Diego (UCSD)

1250

1450

1350

UC Santa Barbara (UCSB)

1210

1440

1330

UC Santa Cruz

1150

1380

1260

United States Military Academy (West Point, US Military Academy)

1250

1440

1340

United States Naval Academy (US Naval Academy)

1250

1450

1400

University of Alabama (UA)

1070

1290

1190

University of Arizona (UA)

1050

1290

1170

University of Cincinnati (UC)

1110

1350

1230

University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder)

1150

1370

1250

University of Connecticut (UConn)

1220

1410

1300

University of Florida (UF)

1250

1420

1330

University of Georgia (UGA)

1230

1400

1330

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

1310

1480

1390

University of Iowa (UI)

1080

1370

1220

University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass)

1200

1380

1290

University of Miami (UM)

1270

1450

1360

University of Michigan (UM, U-M)

1370

1530

1450

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (UM)

1250

1480

1360

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)

1280

1460

1370

University of Pittsburgh (Pitt)

1250

1420

1340

University of Rochester (UR)

1320

1510

1410

University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin)

1240

1450

1350

University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas)

1210

1420

1310

University of Vermont (UVM)

1180

1370

1280

University of Washington (UW)

1190

1420

1300

University of Wisconsin—Madison (UW)

1280

1470

1370

Vassar College

1400

1530

1470

Villanova University

1280

1460

1370

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)

1160

1390

1280

Wake Forest University (WFU)

1290

1470

1380

Wellesley College

1370

1530

1460

Williams College

1410

1570

1490

School

25th %ile SAT Score

75th %ile SAT Score

Avg SAT Score

 

 

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The list above is only a fraction of the length of Santa's naughty-or-nice list.

 

Want to learn more about the SAT but tired of reading blog articles? Then you'll love our free, SAT prep livestreams. Designed and led by PrepScholar SAT experts, these live video events are a great resource for students and parents looking to learn more about the SAT and SAT prep.

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How to Find Average SAT Scores for Colleges

With these two charts, we've given you—in addition to the 25th and 75th percentile SAT scores for each school—the average SAT scores of admitted applicants. These averages tell us what kinds of SAT scores you should aim for in order to match (or even possibly exceed) the qualifications of previously admitted students.

But where can you find average SAT scores for colleges? The two best resources to look for SAT averages are our PrepScholar database and official school websites.

 

Method 1: Use the PrepScholar Database

We at PrepScholar maintain a robust database you can use to get more information on the SAT scores needed for college.

Start by typing in "[School Name] PrepScholar" or "[School Name] PrepScholar SAT" on Google. For example, here's the page I got when I searched for "university of oregon prepscholar":

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Click the link to either your school's Admission Requirements page or SAT Scores and GPA page in our database. I'll look at the University of Oregon's Admission Requirements page (the first link in the screenshot above).

Once on your school's PrepScholar page, scroll down to look for a section about its SAT scores. Straight away, you should be able to spot your school's average SAT score in a blue banner:

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If you'd like to see the 25th and 75th percentile SAT scores for your school as well, simply scroll down to look at the percentile chart:

body_screenshot_oregon_sat_percentiles

This is all you need to do to find the average SAT scores for colleges. However, if you’re having trouble locating a specific school in our PrepScholar database, move on to Method 2.

 

Method 2: Use Official School Websites

This method involves looking for SAT score information on a school's official website. The easiest way to do this is to hop on Google, search for "[School Name] average SAT scores," and then click any links to official pages discussing SAT scores for your school.

Another (slightly less convenient) method is to browse your school's website and intermittently use ctrl + F to look for any mentions of SAT scores. The best pages to search are those offering information on admission statistics, the new freshman class, and facts and figures. By now, most colleges should report average SAT scores using the current 1600 scoring scale.

That said, not all schools report average SAT scores. Whereas some won't release any SAT score information at all, other schools might report SAT scores of admitted applicants in the form of 25th and 75th percentile scores.

One example of this is the University of Oregon, which offers a middle 50% score range of 1100-1290. (Remember that the middle 50% simply means 25% of students scored 1100 or below and 75% of students scored 1290 or below.) Although this range isn’t the same as an average, it does give us the information we ultimately want to know: what kinds of SAT scores are considered better than average (and below average) at this particular school.

 

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This freakishly beautiful kitten is anything but average.

 

How to Set an SAT Goal Score

We've seen how widely SAT scores for universities can vary; now, it’s time to figure out what score you'll need for your colleges specifically. In other words, what should your SAT goal score be?

A goal score is the SAT score most likely to get you into at least one of the colleges you're applying to (excluding safety schools). Ideally, it'll get you into all of them!

Because SAT expectations can vary greatly by school and because there's such an enormous array of colleges you can apply to, your SAT goal score will be yours and yours alone. Other students might have higher or lower goal scores than you—but none of that matters. In the end, what does matter is your goal score’s likelihood of getting you into the college of your dreams!

To find your SAT goal score, follow these three simple steps:

 

Step 1: Make a Chart

First off, make a table for the schools you're applying to and their 25th/75th percentile SAT scores. You may download our worksheet or draw a table similar to the one below. 

On the left, list all the schools you plan to apply to (excluding any safety schools you’re about 90% certain you’ll get into). Here's an example:

School

25th Percentile

75th Percentile

UT Austin

   

Texas A&M

   

Baylor

   

TCU

   

 

 

Step 2: Find SAT Score Info Online

Your next step is to look for SAT score information for each of the schools in your table. To do this, follow the same steps as outlined in Method 1 for finding average SAT scores for colleges.

Once again, here are the steps you'll need to take:

  • Step 1: Search for "[School Name] PrepScholar SAT" on Google and click on the PrepScholar page for your school (either the Admission Requirements page or SAT Scores and GPA page will work).
  • Step 2: Scroll down to the SAT section on this page to find a chart listing the 25th percentile, 75th percentile, and average SAT scores for this school.
  • Step 3: Record the 25th and 75th percentile scores in your chart.

In addition to using our database, you can search for "[School Name] SAT scores" on Google and look for official web pages for your school. Many schools will report either average SAT scores or the middle 50% of SAT scores (which is what you'll want for your chart).

As a reminder, the minimum score in a 50% range is the 25th percentile, and the maximum is the 75th percentile.

Once you've found SAT score information for all your schools, your chart should look like this:

School Name

25th Percentile

75th Percentile

UT Austin

1240

1450

Texas A&M

1130

1360

Baylor

1200

1380

TCU

1160

1360

 

 

Step 3: Find Your Target Score

Now, you’ll use the information in your chart to find your target SAT score. To do this, simply look for the highest 75th percentile score in your chart. This will be your SAT target score. You must hit this (or near this) score in order to give yourself the best chance of admission to all the schools you're applying to.

In this case, my goal score would be 1450 (for UT Austin), as this is the highest score in my chart.

To figure out your (estimated) goal scores for each section (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing + Math), you can divide your goal score by 2. So a composite 1450 goal score would come out to a 720-730 EBRW goal score and a 720-730 Math goal score.

 

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My goal score? 100% completion in Breath of the Wild. (Brett Chalupa/Flickr)

 

Summary: What Are Good SAT Scores for Colleges?

Simply put, there is no one definition for good SAT scores for colleges. On the contrary, the SAT scores needed for college can vary significantly depending on schools' SAT expectations and where you’re applying. While some institutions might look for scores in the 99th percentile, others might accept scores closer to the national average.

In general, good SAT scores for colleges are those that are in the 75th percentile or higher for your schools. Such a score should elevate you well above the average SAT scores for your schools, ultimately allowing you to stand apart from other applicants.

To find average SAT scores for colleges, we recommend perusing either our PrepScholar database or your schools' official websites.

Finally, to set an SAT goal score, just follow these three easy steps:

  • Step 1: Make a chart with all of the schools you're applying to (excluding safety schools) and their 25th and 75th percentiles.
  • Step 2: Find SAT score information online by using either our database or your schools' official websites. Record the 25th and 75th percentiles in your chart.
  • Step 3: Locate the highest 75th percentile score in your chart. This will be your SAT goal score, as it's the one most likely to get you accepted to all the schools you're applying to.

 

What’s Next?

Still curious about good SAT scores for colleges? Read all about average SAT scores to see how they vary for different groups of test takers, and learn what great, good, and poor SAT scores look like.

Need additional help with setting an SAT goal score? Check out our step-by-step guide on how to set a target score for your schools.

Ready to get the best SAT score you can get? With our completely customizable prep program, you can target your weaknesses and hone the skills you'll need most for test day. We also offer a ton of expert SAT tips and tricks to help you get the score you need for college!

 

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:

Compare Prep Methods

 

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Hannah Muniz
About the Author

Hannah graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in English and East Asian languages and cultures. After graduation, she taught English in Japan for two years via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.



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