Colleges by SAT: Find the Best Colleges for Your SAT Score

If you’re attending college in the near future, you’ve probably heard of the SAT. It’s the country’s most popular standardized test for college admissions, and it can play a huge role in the success of your application.

So, what is the SAT, and how does it work? Originally called the Standard Aptitude Test and later the Scholastic Assessment Test, the SAT is administered by the College Board and tests students in two core areas: math and reading and writing. Each area comprises a section of the test. 

The Digital SAT: New for 2024

The digital SAT is new this year, and you can read more about this updated and adaptable test by clicking the link. 

This test consists of a 64-minute reading and writing exam with roughly 50 questions and a second 80-minute math section with roughly 40 questions. The digital SAT test is also adaptive, adjusting the questions as students move through the different modules. 

For example, if a student does very well on module 1 of the reading portion of the test, they will be given more difficult questions for module 2. They will be given easier questions if they don’t do so well. This change dramatically changes how the exam is scored and can influence how difficult or easy the test might feel to you. 

What is a Good SAT Score?

Since its inception in 1926, the SAT has changed its scoring method several times. You’ll need to understand how the current test is scored to understand what counts as a good SAT score.

As we covered above, the SAT is divided into two sections: math, and critical reading and writing. Each section is scored on a scale of 800 points, with a maximum composite score of 1,600. You are not penalized for wrong answers, so filling in each multiple-choice question is better than leaving it blank.

What is a good SAT score for college admission? A composite SAT score of 1,050 puts you in the 50th percentile, and better than 50% of test-takers. A composite score of 1,215 puts you in the 75th percentile, and a score of 1,410 puts you in the 95th percentile. Scores in any of these percentiles (and higher percentiles) will likely be enough to earn you admission at many schools nationwide, as long as the rest of your application is up to par. However, it’s important to note that more exclusive institutions may only consider higher scores.

You can always take the SAT again if your current score is unsatisfactory. In fact, you can take it several times during your application year. You only have to list your top score. If you end up with an SAT score that still isn’t satisfactory, remember: your SAT score isn’t the only thing considered in your application. Your grades, essay responses, and other materials all play big roles. (Plus, you can give the ACT a shot and use that as your standardized test submission in most cases if your score is better.) 

What is the Average SAT Score?

Approximately 1.1 million high school students from the class of 2020 took the SAT. In 2019, 1 million students took the test. Though 2020 score data has not yet been released, 2019 saw the average score sitting at 1,059 (with averages of 531 English reading and writing and 528 for math).

Is this score good enough to get you into college? For many schools, yes — but for some schools, no. Many schools will accept an average SAT score, especially if the rest of your application is solid or exemplary. Even more rigorous schools may accept an average SAT score alongside a standout application. However, for some of the nation’s most prestigious schools, applications with average SAT scores are at a major disadvantage. To stand the best chance of getting into those schools, it’s best to retake the SAT and strive for a score near or above the 90th percentile.

How Important is the SAT?

All in all, how important are SAT scores, really? And what is the importance of SAT test-taking in general? Nearly all major colleges and universities in the U.S. require applicants to submit a score from either the SAT or the ACT. We suggest taking each test at least once to determine which one suits you better. (If standardized tests aren’t for you, some schools don’t require them on their applications, but be prepared for your choices to narrow considerably.)

At the end of the day, how much an SAT is weighed in a college’s decision-making depends on the college. SAT scores rarely go ignored, except in special circumstances where applicants excel in another area. Though it’s difficult to quantify your SAT score’s impact on your application, it’s safe to say that most schools consider it to be important but not all-important. We suggest studying up, but also leaving ample time and energy for other parts of your application (including your grades).

Explore Colleges for Every SAT Score with Appily

Want to learn more about the SAT and how it can impact your college application? On Appily, you’ll find answers. You’ll also find an extensive database where you can search colleges by SAT score and determine the ideal fit for you. Scroll down to view a list of colleges by state and SAT score, and sign up for an Appily account to take your college search to the next level.