Many high school students and their parents aren’t sure what qualifies as a “good” SAT or ACT score. It can be confusing trying to decide if you scored high enough to impress college admission officers or earn scholarships. Here are a few guidelines to get you started:
Look at SAT and ACT statistics:
To get started, you need to have an idea of how other students perform on college admissions tests. First of all, the SAT is scored from a 400 – 1600 score range. Last year, 2.1 million students completed an official SAT test. Out of those 2.1 million students:
- The Average score was 1058
- Only 20% of students earned between a 1200-1400
- Only 7% of students earned a 1400-1600
- Only 1% of students earned a 1500-1600
*Data from Understanding SAT Scores
The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 – 36. Last year, 1.9 million students took the official ACT. Out of those students:
- The average score was 20.8
- Only 20% of students earned a 26-36
- Only 10% of students earned a 30-36
- Only 1% of students earned a 35-36
*Data from ACT National Profile Report
This gives you a rough idea of what is average, above average, and stellar for test-takers. However, this is just the beginning.
Look at the colleges you want to attend:
The key to setting your SAT and ACT goal score is to look at the colleges you are interested in. A good score is simply a score that is going to help you gain admission to the university you want to attend. Do some research and find out the average SAT or ACT scores for that school.
As you can see, the more competitive the school the higher your score will need to be. Princeton University is currently ranked as the #1 Best College in the 2019 U.S. News and World Report. With a 5% acceptance rank, it makes sense that you would need to score in the top 1% of test-takers to have a shot at admission. Rutgers University is ranked #56. While not as competitive as Princeton, with such as high rank it will still require a top 20% score.
Generally, you need to aim to score ABOVE your prospective college’s average score. Remember, you will be competing for admission with students who may have a higher GPA or more impressive accolades than you. So to increase your chances, you should set your SAT goal about 50 points higher than your school’s average and your ACT goal at least 2 points higher. For Princeton, this would be SAT 1570, ACT 36; for Rutgers, SAT 1350, ACT 30; and for Montclair, SAT 1130, ACT 22.
Here is a list of SAT and ACT averages for top-ranked Universities:
Putting it All Together:
With this guideline and about 3 minutes of Google research on your potential colleges, you can easily set your SAT and ACT goal score!
What do you do next? Take a FREE full-length practice SAT or ACT to see how close or far away you are from your goal. MEK offers Free Test Events throughout the year, so you can see where you stand. And we don’t just give you your score. We give you a detailed breakdown of that score, so you can see where you need to improve.
Visit our Events Page to see when our next test event takes place!
Once you know your current score and your goal score, you’re ready to close the gap! That’s where MEK comes in. Click here to learn how to improve your SAT score by over 200 points!