What’s a Good SAT Score for College Admissions?


Over the past 20+ years, we’ve helped thousands of high schoolers improve their SAT scores. Most of their parents have asked us some version of the question: What’s a good test score for college admissions? It’s an important question. After all, the main goal of taking the SAT is to help students get into their top schools.

Just recently, a reporter with U.S. News asked Ann Dolin to shed some light on this important topic. You can click here to hear her thoughts and read the full article or simply read on for a recap and overview.

You can get even more standardized testing and college prep tips and tricks sent directly to you here!

SAT Scores for Top Schools

The SAT features two main sections: evidence-based reading and writing, and math. Although there is also an essay portion, the score for that is still considered optional. Each section is worth a maximum score of 800, and the combined final score can range from 400 to 1600.

Identifying an ideal SAT score within that range depends, in part, on where a student plans to apply.

“It depends on where the student wants to attend,” Ann Dolin shared with U.S. News. “What we’ve been sharing with our students is to dive into each school’s website and determine the mid-50th percentile of last year’s incoming freshman class, and what that range is.”

U.S. News shared those ranges for some of the top schools in the country, and the mid-50th percentile was generally in the 1470 – 1570 range. Other schools can have an average range closer to 1200 for accepted students.

If your child has a list of schools to which they hope to apply, check out the stats for those schools to get an idea of a good goal for your child’s SAT scores.

How to Improve Your SAT Score

If your child will be taking the SAT in the next couple of years, a good place to start is with a mock test. This gives students a valuable practice run with the format and timing of the SAT and provides a baseline score for test prep.

With a baseline score in hand and a goal score in mind, students can begin working towards a higher score. There are three ways to improve SAT scores:

  • Review Test-Taking Strategies – Students can learn strategic methods for selecting an answer even when they aren’t sure.
  • Work on Targeted Content Review – Students can review mock test scores to identify weak spots and focus their practice on challenging content.
  • Take Full-length Practice Tests – Students can take additional mock tests to track their progress, get extra practice, improve their pacing, and boost their mental stamina for test day.

While some students can get sufficient practice via independent study or group classes, students typically see the most improvement when they invest in private SAT tutoring that’s catered to their goals, strengths, and weaknesses.

Submitting SAT Scores to Test-optional Schools

As you research your child’s top choices for college, you may find that one or more of them is a test-optional school. This means students can choose whether or not to submit a test score.

In these cases, students can decide not to submit a test score without hurting their chances of admission. However, even if your child is applying to test-optional schools, it’s still a good idea to go ahead and take the SAT or ACT and strive for their best possible score.

While test-optional schools don’t penalize applicants who don’t submit a score, submitting a good test score can still strengthen an application. Once your child has a test score, you can consider the strength of the application with versus without that score to decide the best path forward.

A Guaranteed Score Improvement

At Educational Connections, we’re confident that our proven approach to SAT and ACT test prep can improve students’ scores. In fact, if a student completes a full program, including all homework and practice tests, we guarantee a score increase or three sessions (four and a half hours) of free tutoring are on us.

We want to help your child get into his or her top choice of school, and that starts with a strong test score! Click here to learn more about our unique SAT test prep program, or click here to schedule a consultation today.