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What's a Good SAT Literature Subject Test Score?

Learn What Literature Subject Test Score You Need for College Admission


Riverside Shakespeare

Riverside Shakespeare

Jinx! / Flickr

More SAT Subjects: Biology | Chemistry | Literature | Math | Physics

What SAT Literature Subject Test score do you need to get into a top college or to earn college credit? The answer, of course, varies widely from college to college, but this article will give a general overview of what defines a good SAT Literature Subject Test score.

The chart at the bottom of the page shows the correlation between Literature SAT scores and the percentile ranking of students who took the exam. For example, 70% of students scored a 660 or below on the exam.

SAT Subject Test scores aren't comparable to general SAT scores because the subject tests tend to be taken by a higher percentage of high-achieving students than the SAT. Whereas a large number of colleges and universities require SAT or ACT scores, mostly elite and highly selective schools require SAT Subject Test scores. As a result, the average scores for SAT Subject Tests are significantly higher than those for the regular SAT. For the SAT Literature Subject Test, the mean score is 583 (compared to about 500 for the SAT).

Most colleges do not publicize their SAT Subject Test admissions data. However, for elite colleges you will ideally have scores in the 700s. Here are what a few colleges say about the SAT Subject Tests:

  • Middlebury College: "We are accustomed to seeing ... SAT IIs that range from the low to middle 700s" (from Middlebury admission FAQs)
  • Princeton University: the middle 50% of admitted applicants averaged scores between 710 and 790 on their three highest SAT II Subject Tests (from the 2006 - 07 Princeton Profile)
  • Williams College: For the class of 2013, 33% of students scored between 750 and 800; 22% scored between 700 and 740; 21% scored between 650 and 690; 13% scored between 600 and 640; and 8% scored between 550 and 590 (from the Williams class of 2013 profile)
As this limited data shows, a strong application will usually have SAT Subject Test scores in the 700s. Realize, however, that all elite schools have a holistic admissions process, and significant strengths in other areas can make up for a less-than-ideal test score.

For course credit and placement in Literature, the SAT Literature Subject Test is rarely used for placement. Some colleges will use it to assess the college-readiness of home-schooled students, but for course placement AP exams are used far more frequently.

Data source for the chart below: the College Board website.

Literature SAT Subject Test Scores and Percentiles

SAT Literature Subject Test Score Percentile
800 99
780 98
760 95
740 92
720 87
700 82
680 76
660 70
640 64
620 58
600 52
580 46
560 41
540 34
520 29
500 24
480 20
460 15
440 11
420 8
400 5

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