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Are Your SAT Scores Good Enough?

Learn What's an Average Score and What Scores You'll Need for Selective Colleges

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SAT books
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What's considered a good SAT score? Do you have the SAT scores you need to get into your top choice schools? This article explains the relationship between college admissions and SAT scores (you can also see the ACT version of this article). For more SAT information, check out the SAT score comparison tables and related articles below. Jump down to learn more about average SAT scores and a sampling of SAT scores for admission to different types of colleges.

Nearly all colleges and universities make their SAT data public, and selective schools know that their reputations often depend upon high numbers. A college won’t be considered “highly selective” or “elite” if its students have an average SAT math score of 470, and selectivity is often one of the factors used in national rankings of schools.

So what is a good SAT score? The exam consists of three parts: Critical Reading, Mathematics and Writing. The scores from each section can range from 200 to 800, so the best possible total score is 2400. The average score for each section is roughly 500, so the average total score is about 1500. For the 1.66 million test-takers in 2013, the mean scores were 496 critical reading, 514 math, and 488 writing.

Very few students get a perfect SAT score, even those at the country’s top colleges. The list below shows the middle range of SAT scores for different schools. The middle 50% of admitted students fell within these numbers. Keep in mind that 25% of students who were admitted scored below the lower numbers listed here.

Finally, if you explore the A to Z college profiles, you'll find that some schools report critical reading and math scores, but not the writing scores. This is because the writing part of the exam never fully caught on when it was introduced in 2005, and many schools still do not use it in their admissions decisions. And when the redesigned SAT rolls out in 2016, the writing section will no longer be a required part of the test.

Click on the school names to see the full profiles.

Auburn (Main Campus)

  • Critical Reading: 520 - 620
  • Mathematics: 540 - 650
  • Writing: 510 - 620

Carleton

  • Critical Reading: 660 - 750
  • Mathematics: 680 - 770
  • Writing: 660 - 750

Duke

  • Critical Reading: 670 - 760
  • Mathematics: 690 - 790ddfdf
  • Writing: 680 - 780

Harvard

  • Critical Reading: 700 - 800
  • Mathematics: 710 - 800
  • Writing: 710 - 800

MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Critical Reading: 680 - 770
  • Mathematics: 750 - 800
  • Writing: 690 - 780

Middlebury

  • Critical Reading: 630 - 740
  • Mathematics: 640 - 740
  • Writing: 650 - 750

Pomona

  • Critical Reading: 690 - 760
  • Mathematics: 690 - 780
  • Writing: 690 - 780

Stanford

  • Critical Reading: 680 - 780
  • Mathematics: 700 - 790
  • Writing: 690 - 780

UCLA

  • Critical Reading: 560 - 680
  • Mathematics: 600 - 760
  • Writing: 590 - 710

For SAT score information for over 1,100 other colleges, explore the A to Z list of admission profiles.

If you'd like to receive weekly information on the SAT, ACT, colleges, and the admissions process, be sure to sign up for my free College Admissions Newsletter.

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