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Is My SAT Score “Good Enough”?

Well, let’s start off with what “good” means. That definition differs on who you ask. For some students, they view a SAT score of 1250 as great because their starting score was only 1000, whereas for others, a SAT score of anything below 1500 is unacceptable. Therefore, whether a score is “good enough” is really subjective and depends on each student’s situation, but there is one guideline that can help you decide for yourselves whether your own score is “good enough”: the overall SAT scores of the students who were admitted to the colleges you want to attend.

If you google “(Name of College) SAT Scores,” you can easily find the admission profile of that school, also known as the applicant profile or entering class profile. In this profile, there are a lot of useful facts about the students who were admitted to that school, such as the total number of students who applied, the acceptance rate, and the SAT scores of the middle 25%-75% students.

So What Do the SAT Scores of the Middle 25%-75% Students Even Mean?

Let’s say that a school reported that their SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing scores of the middle 25%-75% students was 660 – 750 and that their SAT Mathematics scores of the middle 25%-75% students was 680 – 790.

The number before the dash represents the 25th percentile SAT score. In our example, the 25th percentile SAT Reading and Writing score is 660, which means that 25% of the admitted students scored lower than 660 on SAT Reading and Writing. The 25th percentile SAT Math score is 680, which indicates that 25% of the admitted students scored lower than 680 on SAT Math. These scores were the lower end of the SAT scores of students who were admitted to this school.  

The number after the dash represents the 75th percentile SAT score. In our example, the 75th percentile SAT Reading and Writing score is 750, which means that 75% of the admitted students scored lower than 750 on SAT Reading and Writing. The 75th percentile SAT Math score is 790, which indicates that 75% of the admitted students scored lower than 790 on SAT Math. These scores were the higher end of the SAT scores of students who were admitted to this school. Consequently, an ideal score for admission would be at the 75th percentile or higher.

So if my SAT score is around the 25th percentile of a school’s profile, is that “good enough,” or does it need to be higher than the 75th percentile?

I normally recommend that students aim for their SAT score to be at the 50th percentile of a school’s admission profile or higher. To get the 50th percentile score, you just add the 25th percentile score and the 75th percentile score together and then divide by two.

If your SAT score is lower than the 25th percentile, the other components of your application such as your extracurricular activities, GPA, and essay will have to offset your lower SAT score.

Basically, your admission to a college depends on a variety of factors, one being your SAT score. To see if you’re on the right track, try comparing your score to the ones published in college admission profiles. A “good enough” SAT score is a score that can get you into the college of your choice.

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