Curious about what perfection looks like on the SAT, or about how many people get perfect scores every year? In this post, we'll show you what the highest possible score on the SAT is and how many raw points you need to rack up in each section to earn that score.
We'll also include tips and links to other more detailed articles for those aiming for that rare—but not impossible!—maximum SAT score.
What Is a Perfect SAT Score?
The highest possible score you can earn on the SAT is 1600 points. To get this score, you have to get a perfect 800 on each of the two sections: Math, and Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW).
These scores are then totaled to give you a composite score of 1600. (Note that the SAT Essay is optional, so even if you take it, this score will not be factored into your final composite score. You could, therefore, technically get a very low essay score but still net a perfect 1600!)
A perfect SAT score is incredibly rare. According to the College Board's most recent total group report, nearly 2.2 million students in the class of 2020 took the SAT. Of these, just 7% (153,892 students) scored between 1400 and 1600. Clearly, very few people scored above 1400 alone, let alone a perfect 1600!
Unfortunately, the College Board does not tell us directly how many test takers got a perfect score; however, we can use percentiles to estimate how many might've gotten a 1600. According to the most recent SAT percentiles, less than 1% of test takers scored in the range of 1550-1600. Since 1% is equal to about 22,000 students, we can say that fewer than 22,000 students scored 1550-1600 on the SAT in 2020.
If you want to beat the odds and go for a 1600, read on for the raw scores you will need for each section on the SAT, and tips for how to get those scores.
For help translating your raw score (the total number of questions you got correct) in each section to a scaled score (your final section score between 200 and 800), here are two score charts with raw score to scaled score conversions. Both charts come from official SAT practice tests.
Note that since your Reading and Writing scores are combined for a single EBRW score out of 800, each raw score first translates into a test score (out of 40) and then later to a combined score out of 800. For more info on how to calculate your SAT scores, check out our in-depth guide.
|Raw Score||Math Scaled Score||Reading Test Score||Writing Test Score|
|Raw Score||Math Scaled Score||Reading Test Score||Writing Test Score|
You probably noticed that there are slight differences in how raw scores translate to scaled scores. For example, a Math raw score of 57 would get you a 790 on the first exam but a perfect 800 on the second exam.
The reason for this is that each SAT exam is equated so that, even with slight differences in exam difficulty, SAT scores are reliable across different test dates. For example, a 1400 on a March SAT will represent the same skill level as a 1400 on a May SAT, even if the May SAT was more difficult. Read our SAT scoring article for a more detailed explanation of the equating process.
Aim high on the SAT—but, uh, maybe not as high as Mt. Everest.
Maximum SAT Score on Math
According to the charts above, to get an 800 on the Math section of the SAT, you have to get all 58 questions right for a perfect raw score of 800. Occasionally, a 57 might cut it, but this won't be the same for all tests, so assume you need a perfect 58.
This means that when you study, you're aiming for perfection. Figure out which types of questions you tend to miss. Maybe you struggle with a certain topic, such as slopes or fractions. Or perhaps you often get tripped up on grid-in questions (the ones where you have to provide an answer).
In any case, find out what your mistakes are, and practice relentlessly. For more tips, check out our guide to getting a perfect SAT Math score, written by our resident perfect scorer.
Perfect Score on Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
To get an 800 on EBRW, you can miss at most one Reading question, but you need to get all 44 Writing questions correct.
Keep in mind that the scoring process for EBRW is a bit more complicated than it is for Math. As a reminder, Reading is half your EBRW score, and Writing is the other half. Each section score is first converted to a test score on a scale of 10-40. You'll need to get a perfect 40 on each section for a combined total of 80, which translates to a final scaled EBRW score of 800.
We recommend aiming for a perfect raw score of 52 on Reading and a full raw score of 44 on Writing to get that perfect 800. Why? Depending on which date you take the SAT, raw scores can be adjusted to scaled scores differently, due to equating. (Again, for more in-depth information on this process, check out our SAT scoring article.) This means that a 51 on Reading on one version of the SAT could net you an 800—but fail to cut it on another version.
Just like for the Math section, shoot for perfection in your practice. For Reading, which has you tackle long passages, develop a strategy for how you'll approach passages. This could be skimming the passage first and then answering the questions later, or looking at the questions first and then finding the answers in the passage. Once you've decided on a strategy, practice it (ideally, with SAT Reading tests) until you can work quickly, efficiently, and without making careless mistakes.
The Writing section, too, contains long passages but moves especially fast (you only get about 47 seconds per question!), so it's important to experiment with a variety of passage-reading strategies to see which one works best for you. Some students might prefer to read the entire passage first and then tackle the questions after, while others might choose to read the passage in paragraphs and do the questions as they come up.
If you struggle with grammar, make sure to read up on the major grammar rules tested on the SAT. You'll need to have a solid understanding of these rules to tackle the Writing questions quickly and accurately!
The Bottom Line: Getting a Perfect SAT Score
Although a perfect 1600 SAT score is incredibly rare, with consistent studying, a solid array of SAT resources, and a keen understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, it is not impossible to get this admirable score. Study hard, and continue to reflect on where you can improve. Finally, be sure to check out our other articles for more in-depth tips and strategies for your SAT prep!
Want to get a perfect SAT score? Read our step-by-step guide on what it takes to get a perfect SAT score, written by a full 1600 scorer.
How long should you study for the SAT? Get tips with our easy six-step guide.
Looking for strategies you can use to raise your SAT score on a retake? Then check out our 15 tried and true tips. You'll not only get specific strategies for each section of the SAT but also learn how to approach the test as a whole.
Need more help with SAT Prep? Send your parent or guardian our guide to the SAT to get them thinking about the test prep process.
Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!
Halle Edwards graduated from Stanford University with honors. In high school, she earned 99th percentile ACT scores as well as 99th percentile scores on SAT subject tests. She also took nine AP classes, earning a perfect score of 5 on seven AP tests. As a graduate of a large public high school who tackled the college admission process largely on her own, she is passionate about helping high school students from different backgrounds get the knowledge they need to be successful in the college admissions process.