What is a Good SAT Score & How is it Calculated?


Cyril Zachariah
Updated on Aug 08, 2023 10:03 AM IST

Planning to take admission in undergraduate courses in the US? Then find out what a good SAT score is and how it is calculated. Also, determine the minimum score needed to take admission to popular universities in the US. 

What is a Good SAT Score & How is it Calculated?

Students who are seeking college admissions must have come across SAT exam which is a standardised test to get admission to US colleges and universities. It plays a crucial role in the application process for colleges as the score is a determining factor when universities select students. Aspirants often ask what a good SAT score is and how it is calculated.

Here it is essential to debunk the myth surrounding a good SAT score. The interpretation of a "good" score largely depends on the target score set by students and the universities or colleges they wish to apply.

Each university lays down parameters to admit students among which SAT score plays an important role. Factors such as GPA, extracurricular activities and essays also play an essential part. It is important therefore to know how the SAT score is calculated. The SAT exam is divided into two main parts: the Math section and the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section, each scored on a scale ranging from 200 to 800 points. The total SAT score is therefore between 400 and 1600. With a good SAT score, students can get admitted to colleges in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and more.

Students taking the SAT exam must check how the SAT scores are calculated and what is a good score to get admission to colleges and universities.

What is a Good SAT Score?

Different universities/colleges set their own SAT Score requirements for admissions in a specific area. While a good SAT score is needed to get admission to the desired college abroad, SAT score is not the only determining factor for admission.

Various other factors like academic background, Letter of Recommendation, overall profile, extra curricular activities, goals and intent to study, motivation letter, etc. are some of the other factors that are taken into consideration. However, a minimum 1200 composite score on SAT is considered a good score for undergraduate admissions in the leading universities worldwide.

Also, students who score well on SAT are eligible to receive scholarships. The scholarships are either funded by the government or by institutions to provide quality education to talented and motivated students. In India, a student who scored more than 1350 on SAT will be considered for one of the SAT India Top Performers Scholarships.

Aspirants must consider the following points when they refer to a good SAT Score:

  • Confirm the SAT Requirement of the Specific College: Before taking the SAT, candidates must check the minimum SAT score requirement at the desired college and try to score at least the minimum SAT score for admissions.

  • Understand the Need for a Good SAT Score: Good SAT score is not only needed for acceptance of admission to colleges but can also help a student get a scholarship and meet the financial requirements.

  • Score Maximum Marks in SAT: Instead of focusing on scoring the minimum marks required for admissions at a particular college, candidates should try to score the maximum marks on SAT. It not only increases the chances of a candidate getting enrolled in a top college but also makes him/her eligible to apply for scholarships.

Know More About SAT Accepting Universities Abroad!

What is SAT?

The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is a standardized international-level entrance exam that is conducted by the College Board for admissions purposes at different colleges and universities in countries like the United States, Australia, the UK, New Zealand etc. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) administers the SATs on behalf of the College Board.

An SAT score is accepted by universities to understand the intellectual abilities of students and their readiness to enter college after high school. Besides, SAT scores are also used to grant scholarships to students. Find out more about the SAT Test Structure and how the SAT is scored for different sections.

Structure of SAT 2023

Check the exam pattern of SAT to have an idea of how each section is divided and how it is scored:

Particulars Details of SAT Exam

SAT Exam Duration

3 hours

Total Number of Sections

3 {Essay Scrapped}

Total Number of Questions


Mode of SAT Exam


Medium of Instruction


Negative Marking


Score Range


Understanding SAT Score

SAT is scored in the range of 400-1600. Further, the SAT Score is categorised into four different parts for a better evaluation of the students' performance on the test. A SAT score report is detailed and released in the following format:

SAT Score

Score Range

Total Score (1)

400 - 1600

Section Scores (2)

200- 800

Test Scores (3)

10- 40

Cross-test Scores (2)

10- 40

Subscores (7)

1- 15



How is the SAT Score Calculated?

Figure out how an SAT Score is calculated and how the performance of the candidate in the test is evaluated:

Total SAT Score (400-1600)

It is the total of marks obtained in the two sections of the SAT.

Section SAT Scores (200-800)

It is the individual scores in each of the two sections of the SAT i.e Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math. For both sections, a separate score is defined in a score range of 200- 800.

SAT Test Scores (10-40)

It is useful for the participating organisation to analyse the level of understanding of the candidate in three areas i.e reading, writing and language and Maths. Three separate scores are defined under this category in a score range of 10-40.

SAT Cross-Test Scores (10-40)

Two scores are defined in this part. One is based on Analysis in History/Social Studies and Analysis in Science and the other is based on the selection of questions in Reading, Writing and Language and Maths.

SAT Subscores (115)

A total of 7 scores are defined under subscores based on the following points:

  • Reading and Writing and Language: Command of evidence and words in context

  • Writing and Language: Expression of ideas and standard English conventions

  • Mathematics Topics: The heart of algebra, problem-solving, data analysis and advanced Math.

Note: The essay section was scored in a range of 2- 8. But, SAT essay (option) has been scrapped along with the subject test.

Got Your SAT Scores? Connect With Experts to Know What's Next! 

The average SAT score is defined based on the total group of people taking the test, gender, ethnicity, fee waiver used, university/institution type and state/city in which the university is located. The average SAT scores as per the College Board's Report for the different categories are as follows:

Average Score Type

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing



Total Group of People




Female Gender




Male Gender




Asian (out of 223,451 test-takers)




Fee Waiver Use (out of 376,468 test-takers)




Public Institutions








What is SAT Percentile Ranking?

To figure out what is a good SAT score, one must understand the various aspects of SAT scoring. The total SAT score (1600) and section-wise SAT score (800) correspond to an SAT percentile. Let us now understand what an SAT percentile is with the help of an example.

Suppose, the SAT percentile of a student is 80. It means that the student has a score better than 80% of the total SAT test-takers. Check the SAT score chart with the corresponding SAT percentile for 2019:

SAT Percentile

Math Score

EBRW Score

Total SAT Score
























75 (good)




50 (median)




What is a Good SAT Score for SAT Essay?

Before, the SAT included an optional essay. Nevertheless, the College Board declared in 2021 that the SAT essay will no longer be available. If your state mandates the SAT, you may need to take the essay on a SAT School Day.

Although colleges are no longer permitted to require the SAT essay, some students taking the SAT on a school day may be interested in obtaining a high essay score for their enjoyment. The SAT essay is graded independently of Math and EBRW. You will have 50 minutes to prepare an essay analysing the author's assertions and reasoning in a specific paragraph.

Two graders will read your essay and offer you a 1-4 score in three categories: reading, analysis, and writing. Each category has a total score range of 2-8. An ideal SAT essay score would be three 8s — which is a 4 for both graders in all three areas.

Although the College Board does not publish SAT essay percentiles, it does provide average scores for each area based on 2020 data:

SAT Essay Category

Average SAT Score







How to Check SAT Scores? 

When you have completed the SAT exam, it is time to transmit your results to institutions. This is one of the most important aspects of the entire application process. Most institutions prefer to get score reports directly from the College Board rather than copies or score report labels on transcripts. The SAT score report is available to candidates through their College Board profile. Applicants can verify their SAT scores by completing the procedures below:

  • Step 1: Go to the College Board website.

  • Step 2: Enter your ID and password to log in.

  • Step 3: Go to My Organiser and then to SAT scores.

  • Step 4: Go to the Access My Scores page and input your login and password.

  • Step 5: Go to My Test Results.

  • Step 6: Your SAT results will be shown on the screen.

What is a Good SAT Score Based on Your Schools?

Aim for an SAT score that is comparable to that of the average enrolled candidate to improve your chances of admission. In other words, if the typical first-year student receives a 1300 score, they should strive for 1300 as well.

Find the middle 50% of scores for each school you are applying to determine what you should strive for. The middle 50% is comprised of the 25th and 75th percentiles. Your objective should be to achieve a score in the 75th percentile for your school. If it is too challenging, strive for a score higher than the 25th percentile (though know that your application may be less impressive).

Several institutions have SAT statistics available on their websites. You can check for a first-year class biography page or a general facts and numbers page by searching for the school's name and the term "SAT score range" online.

Consider applying to Emory University. Emory's class profile page displays the middle 50% of the class of 2025's SAT Math and EBRW scores. Based on this information, you should aim for a score of roughly 770 on EBRW and 780 on Math — both of which are quite high.

The exact SAT score you should strive for will depend on the universities to which you apply. Less selective colleges accept candidates with SAT scores closer to the national median, but more selective universities frequently prefer scores between 1400 and 1600.

Average SAT Score for Top US Universities

There are hundreds of universities/institutions/colleges worldwide accepting SAT scorecards for the admission of students. The SAT requirement is mostly defined by a specific department of an institution in the eligibility criteria for admissions to a particular course.

In 2021, some universities in the United States decided to drop the SAT requirement for admission as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. But most colleges abroad are accepting SAT scores as it is considered an important test to determine the readiness of students to enter a college and also to ensure an unbiased admission process.

Here is the list of colleges accepting SAT scorecards along with the SAT average score acceptable for undergraduate admission:

US Universities

Average SAT Score

American University


Baylor University


Miami University


University of Illinois, Chicago


Boston University


George Washington University (GWU)


UC Santa Cruz


University of Washington


University of Pittsburgh


Texas A&M University


New York University (NYU)


Colleges Accepting SAT Score

Here is the list of other colleges in some of the most popular study abroad destinations, that are accepting SAT scores:




Liverpool John Moores University

McGill University

University of Sydney

Newcastle University

University of Manitoba

University of Queensland

Manchester Metropolitan University

Dalhousie University

Deakin University

Durham University

Capilano University

Queensland University of Technology

University of Salford

St.Thomas University

Curtin University

To conclude, a good SAT score is a subjective measure that varies on factors such as the aspirations of the student, the competitiveness of the college and the pool of applicants competing for the offer letters. A commonly accepted good SAT score is between 1200 and 1400 out of 1600. CollegeBoard adopts several equating processes to determine the conversion and ensure equity. Students must remember that while SAT score is only one part of the college application and there are several factors such as GPA, essays and extracurriculars that also play equally important roles. 

In case you have further queries about study abroad or the admission process, write to us at abroad@collegedekho.com and seek help from our expert study abroad counsellors!

Know About Programmes Accepting SAT Scores!


What is a section-wise SAT Score?

Your section-wise SAT scores are the individual results for the SAT's two main sections: reading/writing and mathematics which are scored on a scale of 200-800. It is the section-wise SAT Score. The maximum SAT composite score is 800+800, or 1600. The overall average is 1000. Each of these sections is rated out of 800, and the total of these scores is your overall score.

What is the SAT Percentile?

SAT percentile is used as a comparison parameter to determine your performance among other SAT test-takers. Suppose, your SAT percentile of a student is 90. It means that you have scored better than 90% of the total SAT test-takers. 

What is the average SAT score?

The SAT is scored out of 1600 and the average SAT score is between 1010 and 1060. This is based on SAT score trend data, where the 50th percentile for the nationally representative sample was 1010, while the 50th percentile for SAT test-takers was between 1050 and 1060.

What’s the difference between SAT raw scores and SAT scale scores? How are they calculated?

The number of right answers you received in a section is equivalent to your raw SAT score. The SAT has no guessing penalty and is only concerned with the total number of correct answers. SAT scale scores are how your raw scores translate to section scores, which range from 200 to 800 for the two sections (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math), for a total SAT score ranging from 400 to 1600.

What is the SAT composite score?

SAT composite score is nothing but the total SAT score of a candidate. It is the sum total of marks obtained in the Reading and Writing section and Mathematics section by the candidate. You are above average if your composite SAT score is 1083 or higher. The aggregate SAT test score for the 75th percentile is 1215, the 90th percentile is 1340, and the 95th percentile is 1410.

What is the minimum SAT score needed to apply for admissions to top US universities?

The minimum SAT score needed to apply for admissions to top US universities like Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, Yale University, Harvard University, Princeton University, Stanford University, and Boston University must have an SAT score above 1400. However, an SAT score above 1200 is good enough to apply to other popular US universities like Texas A&M University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Baylor University etc.

Do UK Universities accept SAT scores for undergraduate admissions?

Yes, UK Universities do accept SAT scores for undergraduate admissions to their prestigious colleges. International students need to submit SAT scores for admission to UK universities like Aston University, Bath Spa University, Durham University, Keele University, Lancaster University, and Leeds Beckett University to name a few. 

My SAT score is 1310. What are some of the best US universities I can apply for undergraduate admission?

US Universities like George Washington University, University of Florida, University of Washington, Ohio State University, University of Florida, American University, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst are some of the best options among the US universities you can apply for admissions with an SAT score of 1310. 

How long do SAT scores stay valid?

Your SAT scores are technically valid forever. However, this does not imply that all universities from different parts of the world will accept SAT scores that are five years old or older. If a school accepts scores from any year, you can submit them regardless of their age.

What is an SAT score report?

SAT score report is the detailed SAT score of a test taker. It shows the Total Score, Section Scores, Cross-Test Scores and other details of the candidate like test date, Registration Number, Test Center Number, CB Student ID, Date of Birth etc. 

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