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What is a Good SAT Score?

Posted in Test Prep on November 18, 2010 by

You work hard to maintain a good G.P.A. and spend a majority of your time outside of class doing homework and participating in a variety of extracurricular activities. Yet, as soon as you reach junior year of high school, all anyone seems to want to talk about is your SAT score.

If you’re like many of our SAT students here at Knewton, you’re probably wondering: How important is the SAT, and what is considered a good score?

These are tough questions to answer, and the most accurate response to both is probably, “It depends.” But don’t worry – we’re too nice to keep you hanging like that. Read on for insight on the importance of the SAT, and how to know what score to shoot for.

How important is the SAT?

Be sure to keep in mind that SAT scores are just one of many criteria used by admissions officers. Schools look at what classes you take in high school (what subjects, how many honors and A.P. courses, etc), and of course your grades for those classes. Colleges also look at things like admissions essays, teacher recommendations, extracurricular involvement, and/or interviews to help inform their decisions.

Among these criteria, however, SAT scores are unique in that they give schools a universal benchmark with which to compare applicants from all over the world. While a 3.5 G.P.A. may mean different things in different schools – depending on grade inflation, rigor, curriculum, etc. – a 2000 on the SAT is designed to mean the same thing no matter where or when the test is taken.

Some colleges put more weight on the SAT than others. In general, while the SAT isn’t everything, its importance should not be underestimated.

What is a good SAT score?

As you probably know, the SAT consists of three parts: Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing. The scores from each section range from 200 – 800. A 2400 constitutes a perfect score, and is very rarely achieved. In 2009, the average score in the U.S. was around 1500.

But you didn’t ask what the average score was; you asked what a good score was. Unfortunately, that question is impossible to answer in numerical terms. What constitutes a “good” SAT score really depends on where you want to go college.

While SAT scores alone will not get you into the college of your dreams, it’s important to find out the middle range of test scores for the schools you plan to apply to. Most schools will list these on their admissions website; you can also get more information from the College Board’s College Search feature. If your SAT score falls comfortably into or above the middle range, then admissions officers will likely look to other factors – GPA, recommendations, extracurricular involvement, etc. – to evaluate whether you’d be a good fit for their school. If your SAT score is much higher than the median score, it might tip the scales in your favor; conversely, if your score is significantly lower, it could have an adverse effect.

Worried that your scores aren’t up to your dream school’s standards? Consider re-taking the SAT. Dedicate yourself wholeheartedly to your SAT prep, do your best on test day, and keep your goals realistic. And remember: more important than getting into the most highly ranked college into the world is getting into the college that is best fit for you.

Take the time to create a diverse college list. Along with “target” and “safety” schools, feel free to apply to several “reach” schools, places where your SAT score might be slightly below the middle range. Again, SAT scores aren’t everything – stellar grades, solid community service involvement, or excellence in another area might make you a must-have candidate in spite of your standardized test performance.

Whether you score a 1600, 1900, or 2200 on the test, remember: these can all be “good scores,” as long as they allow you to continue your education.