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What's a Good SAT Score for 2023?

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If you’re gearing up to take the SAT, you’re probably wondering about how your scores compare to other college applicants. Are your scores high enough to get into your dream school? And what should you do if your scores need an extra boost? 

In this guide to SAT scores 2023, we’ll give you all the info you need to evaluate your SAT scores and determine if they’re good enough for you! We’ll answer the question, “What is a good SAT score 2023?” by breaking down this year’s overall average SAT scores. Then we’ll show you how to figure out the SAT score you need to meet your goals. 

Let’s get started!

What’s a Good SAT Score 2023 Overall? 

At the end of the day, a good SAT score for you is one that’s high enough to get you admitted to the colleges on your college list.

First, let’s talk about what makes up a “good” SAT score for 2023. A good overall SAT score is one that’s higher than the national SAT score average. To determine where your SAT scores fall in comparison to other students, we can take a look at the average scores and percentiles of recent test takers. 

For the 1.7 million students who took the exam last year, the average SAT score 2022 is 1050. The average score for the Evidence-Based Writing (ERW) section is 529, and the average score for the Math section is 521. A good SAT Score for 2023 will likely be close to 1050 as well

In general, any SAT score that puts you in the top half, or top 50%, of test takers is considered “good.” The higher your score is above that middle marker, the better it’s considered. Likewise, scores that fall in the bottom half of all test scores aren’t considered as good. The lower your score is in the bottom half, the less well-regarded your scores will be. 

You can use the average composite SAT score of 1050 to evaluate your own SAT scores. If you scored higher than a 1050, you can consider your scores “good.” Why? Because they’re higher than the national average of other test takers! 

Looking at percentiles can also show you how your scores compare to other test takers. A percentile shows you what percentage of other test takers you scored the same as or better than. For instance, if your SAT score is in the 90% percentile, that means you scored better than 90% of test takers, which is really good! If your score is in the 40th percentile, you scored better than 40% of other test takers, which is below average. 

Here are the most recent percentile scores for students who’ve taken the SAT: 

 

Percentile
EBRW
Math
Total
99th (Best)
760 and above
790 and above
1530 and above
90th (Excellent)
670-680
690
1350
75th (Good)
600-610
600
1200 and above
50th (Average)
520-530
510-520
1050 and above
25th (Poor)
440-450
430-440
890
10th (Poorer)
390-400
370-380
780
1st (Poorest)
330 and below
310 and below
670 and below

Source: The College Board

As the chart above shows, you need a composite SAT score of at least 1350 to make the top 10%, or 90th percentile, of test takers. That means you can do away with the idea that you need to score a perfect 1600 for your SAT score to be considered good. A 1350 still puts you far ahead of the majority of students. 

On the other hand, a composite score of 780 or lower puts you in the 10th percentile of test takers, which is really low. With a 780, you’ll have scored higher than only 10% of test takers, which doesn’t look great on college applications. 

Unfortunately, bumping that 780 up by 60 points to an 890 won’t improve your position by much. An 890 is still in the bottom 25% of scores, which means that 75% of students scored better than you. Given these numbers, we can say that any SAT score at or below the 25th percentile is poor. 

Keep in mind that test optional policies can also skew the average SAT scores for admitted classes at schools that use this policy. Because test scores are optional, some admitted students won’t submit their SAT scores. Those that do submit scores will likely do so because they’ve scored well and want to show off their accomplishment on their application. That means the score distributions at test optional schools may not accurately reflect the 

Looking at national percentiles tells you how your scores compare to all other students who’ve recently taken the SAT. But since your ultimate goal is to get into your chosen schools, you also need to look at how strong your scores are for the colleges you’re applying to!

 

 

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You're unique. Your SAT target score will be, too. 

 

What’s a Good SAT Score 2023 for You? 

Seeing where your SAT scores stand in the national percentiles gives you some crucial perspective and can help you build a plan to achieve your educational goals! But to get college acceptance letters, you also need to know what SAT scores will help you get into your dream schools

At PrepScholar, we call this setting your SAT score target. When you hit your goal score, you give yourself a much better chance of getting accepted to all the schools you apply to. 

So how do you determine your SAT goal score? To get started, finalize the list of schools you plan to apply to. Most schools post the average SAT scores from admitted students on their admissions websites or in their common data sets, which you can find by searching for “[school name} + common data set”. 

You should set your score target at or above the highest average score on your school list so you’re giving yourself the best chance of acceptance across the board. 

 

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At some schools, submitting your test scores is optional. Learn what that means for you and your SAT target score.

 

How Do New Testing Policies Affect What’s a Good SAT Score 2023? 

Over the past several years, many schools have changed their admissions policies regarding SAT/ACT scores, either temporarily or permanently. We’ll break down some of these policy changes and what they mean for your SAT goal scores. 

Some schools have adopted test optional or test blind admission policies, both of which mean that test scores are not required in your application. Schools with test optional policies allow you to choose whether you submit your SAT scores. Many state that your chances of admission will not be negatively affected if you do not submit your scores. 

Test blind schools, on the other hand, will not look at or consider SAT/ACT scores in their admissions process. If you submit them anyway, your scores won’t be factored into your admissions decision. 

If you’re applying to test optional or test blind schools, it may still be a good idea for you to take the SAT. Some schools may not look at SAT scores as part of your admissions packet, but they may be required by your departmental program. Some schools may also use test scores to determine whether students can be exempted from entry-level classes. Scholarships may also require you to submit test scores as part of the award criteria. You’ll need to check with your schools to learn more about their testing policies. 

So how do test optional and test blind policies affect you as you set your SAT goal score? The main way that these policies affect you is that they may make it more difficult to track down the most recent SAT score percentiles and averages for some schools. Many schools that have implemented test optional/test blind admissions no longer release their admitted students’ SAT scores, which can make it tough to determine what your goal scores should be. 

To learn more about how these changes may affect you, check out our article on how test optional policies affect the significance of SAT/ACT scores in college admissions. We’ll walk you through how to set score goals if you’re applying to test optional or test blind schools! 

 

 

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Our experts will walk you through the three-step process to setting your target score. It's much easier than running stadiums—we promise. 

 

3 Steps To Choosing Your SAT Goal Score for 2023

Now that you know why you need a goal score, it’s time to set one that works for your goals. Just follow the three easy steps below! 

 

Step 1: Make a Schools Chart

To get started setting your goal score, make a chart that includes the name of each school you’re applying to and the 25th percentile and 75th percentile scores for each school’s admitted students. You can make the chart yourself, or just download ours by clicking the thumbnail below!

 

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When creating your chart, be sure to include your match schools and reach schools. You can exclude safety schools, since you already know that you’re likely overqualified for acceptance to those colleges! 

Here’s a sample chart with several schools already filled in: 

School Name
25th Percentile SAT Score
75th Percentile SAT Score
Boston University
 
 
Amherst College
 
 
UMass Boston
 
 
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
 
 



Step 2: Find SAT Score Range for Your Schools

Once you’ve added your schools to the chart, the next step is to find the most recent SAT score information for the schools you’re applying to. The specific info you need to track down is the average range of SAT scores for each school. This is formally known as the middle 50%, which is a range of SAT scores that encompasses the 25th to 75th percentile scores of recently admitted students. 

The easiest way to find a school’s middle 50% SAT scores is to use our PrepScholar database. You can search for “[School Name] PrepScholar” or “[School Name] PrepScholar SAT.” When you get the results, click the link to the school’s page in either our SAT/GPA or admissions databases, pictured below: 

 

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Click the link to your school’s page in one of our databases, then scroll down to find the SAT admissions info for that school. Look for headings that say “Boston University Admissions Statistics” or “SAT and ACT Requirements.” These sections will tell you the 25th and 75th percentile, or middle 50%, scores for the school you’re looking at. 

To give you a sense of what this looks like, here’s the admissions page with average SAT score 2022 info for Boston University: 

 

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As you can see, the 25th percentile composite score for Boston University is a 1339, and the 75th percentile score is a 1500, which comes out to an average composite score of 1420. When completing your own score chart, you’ll add those 25th and 75th percentile scores into the row for Boston U. Then, you’ll repeat this process for every school you’re applying to!

If one of your schools doesn’t pop up in our PrepScholar database, go to your school’s official website and search for any info on students’ facts and figures, incoming class snapshots, admissions data, or testing data. You might also try searching for “[School Name] average SAT scores” or “[School Name] SAT scores” and looking for links that take you back to your school’s official website. 

If all else fails, try searching for “[School Name] Common Data Set,” which is a document that provides admissions data for your school’s most recently admitted class. When you open a school’s common data set, scroll down to Section C, which includes information about SAT scores. 

By the time you’ve finished your search, your chart will look something like this: 

 

School Name
25th Percentile SAT Score
75th Percentile SAT Score
1339
1500
1420
1530
1020
1220
990
1230



Step 3: Determine Your SAT Goal Score

Now that you have your school chart complete, it’s time to figure out your goal score! To do this, find the highest 75th percentile score in your school chart. This will be the SAT score you’re going to aim for, because it’s the most likely to get you accepted to all the schools in your list. 

In the sample chart above, the highest 75th percentile score is a 1530 for Amherst. This means that your goal score will be a prestigious 1530, which is in the 99th percentile of all test takers!

If you’re worried that your goal score is unreachable, you can lower your goal slightly to a score that’s between the highest and second-highest 75th percentile scores in your chart, or to your second-highest 75th percentile score. Using our sample chart, the second-highest 75th percentile score would be a 1500 for Boston U, which is in the 98th percentile

Once you’ve set your goal score, it’s important to figure out your individual goal scores for the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (ERW) and Math sections too. To do this, divide your target composite score in half. This will give you rough scores to shoot for on each section of the SAT. In the example of Amherst, this would be 1530 2 = 765, which rounds to approximately 760-770 per section. 

 

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Setting your goal score doesn't have to feel like rocket science. Looking at how Matt set his goal score will help the process make sense. 

 

Example: How Matt Set His Goal Score

Let’s take a minute to look at the three-step process at work. Matt is applying to the following schools: 

 

School
25th Percentile SAT Score
75th Percentile SAT Score
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 
1510
1570
University of Alabama
1090
1370
Ohio State University
1260
1420
Purdue University
1190
1430
University of Texas at Austin
1230
1480

 

Based on this data, Matt should set an SAT score target of 1570, even though it’s about 400 points higher than the lowest average SAT score on their list. That way, he’s aiming for an average SAT score that will help him get into all of his potential universities. If Matt seriously wants to get into MIT, though, they should set a target SAT score that’s higher than 1570, which would be an above average SAT score for MIT students. 

However, let’s say Matt spends a little more time refining his college list and narrows their schools down to these three: 

 

School
25th Percentile SAT Score
75th Percentile SAT Score
University of Alabama
1090
1370
Ohio State University
1260
1420
Purdue University
1190
1430

 

In this case, Matt would want to aim for an SAT score of 1430, since Purdue University has the highest average SAT score for incoming students on their list. But just like last time, scoring above a 1430 would give Matt the best chance of getting into all the schools on their college list. 

To sum it all up: to set a goal for your own average SAT score 2023, you’ll need to find out the average SAT scores of students who’ve been recently accepted to the schools you’re applying to, then base your SAT target score off of that information. 

We’ll walk you through this whole process–including how to find the average SAT scores for every school on your list!--in the next section. 

 

 

What Is a Good SAT Score 2023 Compared To Past Years? 

Now that we’ve covered some ways to determine good SAT scores, you might be wondering, “How do average SAT scores 2023 compare to past years?” Are good SAT scores for this year the same as good SAT scores for past testing years? 

In short, yes! Good SAT scores don’t change much from year to year. Sure, percentiles and averages can shift a little bit each year, but they usually don’t change dramatically. It’s pretty typical for what’s considered a good SAT score to stay pretty consistent year after year, based on averages and percentiles. 

The current format of the SAT came out as recently as 2016, so the pool of data on what constitutes a good SAT score over time is somewhat limited at present. However, we can look at how good SAT scores have changed over the past five years! 

The chart below shows SAT averages from 2017 through the most recent 2021 averages:

 

Year
Avg EBRW
Avg Math
AVG TOTAL
529
521
1050
533
528
1060
528
523
1051
531
528
1059
536
531
1068
533
527
1060

 

As the chart above shows, average SAT scores have not changed drastically over the past five years. However, sometimes external factors can have an out of the ordinary impact on average SAT scores in a specific year. For instance, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic affected the average SAT scores for students in 2020 and 2021. This shift was likely due to changes in learning environments, reduced access to exam prep, and general stresses associated with the pandemic. 

But we also have to look at percentiles, which tell you what percentage of test takers you scored the same as or higher on the SAT. The chart below shows current and past SAT percentiles for 2017 through 2022: 

 

Year
90th %ile
75th %ile
50th %ile
25th %ile
10th %ile
1350-1360
1200
1040
890
780
1350
1200-1210
1040-1050
890-900
780
1340
1200-1210
1050-1060
910
800
1340
1200-1210
1050-1060
910
800
1340
1200-1210
1050-1060
910-920
800
1320-1330
1190-1200
1050-1060
910-920
800-810

 

From looking at the chart above, we can see that percentiles have changed very little over the past five years. In fact, from one year to the next, the score ranges don’t shift more than 10 points in each percentile. 

It’s tough to predict how SAT score averages and percentiles will change from year to year. But because these numbers have not changed much over the past five years, we can say that the definition of a good SAT score hasn’t changed a lot since 2017. And that will probably be true for a while!

 

Conclusion: What Is a Good SAT Score 2023? 

In this article, we’ve gone over three ways that you can answer the question, “What’s a good SAT score 2023?” 

First, you can look at the national average composite SAT score, which is 1050. Any score above this average can be viewed as a good score, because it means you’ve scored higher than the majority of test takers. 

Second, you can look at SAT score percentiles to define good SAT scores. Percentiles compare your performance with that of other test takers by telling you what percentage of students scored the same as or better than you on the SAT. The higher percentile your score falls into, the better you did compared to other students. Scores in the 50th percentile (1050 and above) are generally average, while scores in the 75th (1200 and above) and 90th percentiles (1350 and above) are good and excellent. 

Finally, the most important way you can define a good SAT score is by looking at the scores of students admitted to the schools you’re applying to. Track down SAT score data for each of your schools. The 75th percentile score for each school will be your goal score or, in other words, the score that’s good for you personally as a college applicant! 

 

 

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Next Steps

Now that you have your SAT target score, you'll want to follow a study plan to make the most of your prep time. Our guide to building an SAT study plan will help you put together a schedule that works for you. 

Not sure where to start your SAT study process? Don't worry: our complete guide to studying for the SAT will get you started. 

Many students turn to SAT study apps to help them get ready for their exam. We review the best SAT apps so you can download tools that really work. 

 

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

 

Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!


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Ashley Robinson
About the Author

Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.



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