What's a Good 9th Grade ACT / SAT Score?


The SAT / ACT is coming up quickly for 9th graders, but using raw SAT / ACT data mostly from 11th graders to see if you're doing well isn't correct.  Here, Dr. Fred Zhang does a novel analysis on two data sets to find what is considered a good SAT or ACT score for 9th grade students.


How We Calculated the Scores

Everyone knows that students learn a lot between 9th and 11th grade.  So it's not a surprise when, between 9th and 11th grade, students' ACT / SAT scores go up.  How much can you expect to improve in the two years between 9th and 11th grade?  It turns out that the average is about 100 points per section on the SAT and 5 points on the ACT – that's quite a lot!  

Is it wrong to use 11th grade result tables to see if you're doing well on the SAT / ACT? Absolutely! You must use a table designed for 9th graders as we've done here.

If you're interested in how we figured out these scores, then look no further than our original article on 7th graders here.  The same precautions about how the data was calculated and why you shouldn't necessarily see a low score as a bad omen apply here.


Results: Distribution of 9th Grade ACT / SAT Scores

The average ACT and SAT scores for a 9th grade student are lower than those of an 11th grader.  In fact, we find that the scores on the SAT are a full 100 points lower per section, while the scores on the ACT are about 5 points lower.  Therefore, the SAT score of the median 9th grader is about a 400 for each section, while the ACT score of the median 9th grader is about a 15.  A standard deviation on the SAT is still around 100 points per section and around 6 points on the ACT.

This means that the scores translate as follows:

Interpretation     Percentile     ACT Score     SAT Section Score  
Below Average 25% 9 300
Average 50% 15 400
Above Average 75% 21 500
Excellent 95% 28 600


What this data shows us is that, if you score about a 15 on the ACT or a 400 on each section of the SAT (or 800 with both sections combined), you're getting about the average score for a 9th grader. If you score around a 9 on the ACT or a 300 on each SAT section, then about three-quarters of other 9th graders would have a higher score than you.


What's a Good SAT / ACT Score for a 9th Grader?

From the table above, we can conclude that a good SAT / ACT score, a score that beats three-quarters of similar students in the USA, is a 21 on the ACT and a 500 per section (1000 over both sections) on the SAT.

However, as I warned above, the SAT / ACT is not intended to evaluate students before their college admissions timeline, so don't despair if your score is lower than this.  You can always boost it later on by learning the content and studying more.


How Can 9th Graders Prepare for the SAT / ACT?

We have lots of guides to help you understand the SAT and ACT. First, you will want to decide if you should start preparing for the SAT or ACT in 9th grade. If you decide to do so, you can get started with this guide on how SAT practice can get you a perfect score as well as this guide to raising your ACT score.

Practice tests are extremely important for test prep, and we have many free and official SAT practice tests and ACT practice tests available for you to use.

You may also be interested in preparing for standardized tests that students typically take before the SAT and ACT. We have complete guides to both the PSAT and the ACT Aspire tests.

Use these resources and you'll be well on your way to raising your SAT or ACT scores.


What's Next?

Check out our original article: Using 7th grade talent search scores to infer ACT / SAT scores for grades below 11

Do you know when you're going to take the SAT? Read our guide to learn how long before you take the SAT you should begin studying.

Can you start test prep early?  Is it appropriate? Check out our guide to learn when the best time for you to start test prep is!



Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!
About the Author
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Dr. Fred Zhang

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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