For many high school students taking the SAT for the first time, looking at your scores can be puzzling. It’s not easy to know if your scores are good enough for the colleges you are applying to or if you should retest in the hopes of raising your scores. A “good” SAT score is different for every student and depends on your plans for the future, your career of choice and your college goals.
While going through the process of searching for your college of choice, you’ll want to take a look at the numbers in the area of college ranking and admissions. A good rule of the thumb when it comes to the SAT scores for each college is to look for the 25 – 75th percentile. This is a good way to get a feel for where most students rank. There will always be exceptions on both ends of the scale, some with very high scores and others who may have entered with other qualifications but lower scores, but this is a good general rule to follow. Something you can ask about is if the college offers bonuses for those with higher scores which may include things such as the possibility of testing out of certain classes during your first year of college, merit based grants or other such perks.
To give some examples, the 25 – 75th percentile scores for Stanford University are 2000 – 2310 and the 25 – 75th percentile scores for Harvard University are 2100 – 2380. For another example, the 25 – 75th percentile scores for the University of San Diego are 1700 – 2030. As you work on translating your scores, identifying these numbers will help you greatly in understanding where your scores should be in order to apply to and attend the colleges of your choice. Having specific goals in mind will make it much easier for you to see and know if your SAT scores are good enough as your final scores or if you may want to work on improving your scores and retake the test a second or third time.
In the event that your SAT scores fall in the average range of those of your school of choice, you might still want to work on them in order to increase your chances of being accepted. One tried and proven way to help you in your SAT prep in through online SAT prep courses. On the other end of the scale, if your scores are way above the ones you need, you may be just fine and use those SAT scores and choose not to retest.
Another thing worth taking a look at are the different subject areas and how they breakdown. Usually, colleges like to see students with well-rounded scores, in other words, not having very low scores in some areas and very high scores in others. It’s normal to have a bit of variation between your scores, especially in the areas of your interest and talent where you may excel. If, however, your scores are too uneven, it may be good to do further SAT prep whether through personal study, tutoring or online SAT prep courses. Take some time to work on the subject area you are weaker in and then retake the test to up your scores.