What is a Good SAT Score in 2021?

good sat score

After 2020 turned the testing industry upside down, with many colleges even going test optional, what does that mean for SAT score standards in 2021? What is a good SAT score in 2021?

In this post, we’ll refresh you on the basics of how the SAT is scored and walk you through what makes up a good SAT score in 2021. 

How is the SAT scored?

How is the SAT Scored?

We’ll keep this quick: your total SAT score is formed by adding up your two section scores, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math, which are scored out of 200-800. Your total score is on a scale of 400-1600

how the sat is scored

You can read more in detail about how the SAT is scored here

What is the Average SAT Score in 2021?

Generally, any score above average is a “good score!” However, what that average is depends on the school you’re applying to. (We’ll talk more about this later in the post).

More than 2 million students in the class of 2020 took the SAT, and their average SAT score was 1050. The average math score is 520, and the average Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (ERW) score is 530. 

(Because the odds are so small and hard to control, this is just our friendly reminder that if you’re scoring really high on the SAT (like 1450 or above), then it’s really more strategic to focus on other aspects of your application, like the essays, than it is to focus your efforts on getting a 1600 on the SAT!)

That being said, the higher your SAT score is, the more competitive an applicant you will be. Take a look at the 2020 SAT score percentiles:

2020 Score Percentiles

PercentileTotal ScoreERW ScoreMath Score
90%1350670 ERW690 Math
75%1200610 ERW600 Math
50%1050530 ERW520 Math
25%900450 ERW440 Math

We see from this table that you can score a 1350 and be in the top 10% of scorers! Furthermore, scoring a 1200 sets you above 75% of SAT test-takers. 

What SAT Score Do I Need to Get into a Top 10 School?

It’s no secret that the top 10 universities in the US have really high test score expectations. In fact, the average SAT section scores for a Yale student are 720-770 on the ERW section and 740-790 on the Math section. 

The most accurate way to determine what SAT score to aim for is to visit the school’s admissions page. See if they have information about the average test scores of admitted students and the expectations around standardized test scores. It’s best to go straight to the source for this information. 

There’s no denying that test scores are important, especially when applying to a highly competitive school. But remember, your SAT score is just one part of the college admissions equation. Don’t forget about the role your grades, extracurriculars, and personal essays play in completing your college application – these factors can supplement a lower SAT score. 

What is a Good SAT Score for ME?

This is the most important section of this blog post! How do you determine what a great SAT score is for you, specifically?

Well, you need to look at the average SAT scores of students admitted to the schools you are interested in attending. A good SAT score for you is a score that matches or exceeds these averages. 

How to Find Your Goal SAT Score

To figure out the average scores for the schools you’re interested in, you’ll need 3 things: a list of colleges you are interested in attending, internet access, and a note-taking device. 

Once you have your list of colleges, take to the internet and find each college’s admissions page or their “freshman statistics” page. They will usually list their average SAT scores. Write down the highest and lowest score they list. 

*If you can’t find this information on a college’s website, try giving their admissions office a call or shooting them an email and ask if they have data (they do) on the average SAT score of admitted freshmen. If this doesn’t work, sites like Niche.com and Magoosh.com are pretty reliable sources.

Here are some examples we found:

University of Michigan Ann Arbor: 1380-1540

Virginia Tech: 1180-1390

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: 1310-1480

North Carolina State University: 1270-1410

The lowest score on the list is 1180, and the highest is 1540. So if you’re looking at these colleges, then your goal SAT score should be about 1400-1450. Aiming for a 1400-1450 puts you on the upper score range for every school, bolstering what is surely a fabulous admission application of well-written essays, a good GPA, and a few meaningful extracurriculars!

If you have no idea what college you want to go to, then aim for just above average. Any score above 1059 will probably help you get into a good school. Once you narrow your list of college options, you can tailor your scoring goal to those schools. 

What is a Good SAT Score for Test-Optional Schools?

Test-optional schools do not require an SAT or ACT score to complete your application. Many universities implemented test-optional admissions policies for students applying in 2020 and 2021. Should you submit your SAT score to these schools? If yes, what’s a good score for test-optional schools?

Colleges are Going Test Optional; Should I Still Take the SAT?

If you had the opportunity to take the SAT, and you feel like your score represents you well academically, you should submit your SAT score to a test-optional school. Submitting your score will provide a more complete picture of you as a student and give admissions officers more to review when considering your admission.

Submitting your score will provide a more complete picture of you as a student and give admissions officers more to review when considering your admission.

The means of determining a good SAT score for a non-test-optional university applies to test-optional schools, too. Go to the school’s freshman admissions page and see if they have the average SAT scores of admitted freshmen listed. Your goal SAT score is at or above this average score. If you can’t find student SAT information on the college’s website, websites like Niche.com provide this information as well.

Test Optional School, Not Test Blind; 3 Ways to Boost Your Score

How Do I Reach My Goal SAT Score?

Now that you know what is a good SAT score in 2021 and your personal goal SAT score, how do you reach your goal? Practice! But not just any practice – efficient practice. Don’t waste your time will hundreds of practice problems that may not be helping at all. Olive Book’s online, self-paced SAT course takes you from day one to test day. It’s all you need to study for the SAT – really. Learn more about the course (and our improvement guarantee) at www.olive-book.com.

Get a better score. Get into a better school.

Olive Book’s online ACT and SAT courses are all you need to boost your score. Check them out:

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4 thoughts on “What is a Good SAT Score in 2021?”

  1. Glenn Du Toit

    Hi my son wrote his SAT in May 2021. His total SAT was 1150, Math 560 and EBRW 590. He also wrote the English essay section but we are waiting for those results.

    My question, does the essay result add to the overall SAT mark or is it recorded separately?

    Thanks in advance

  2. Hi, i am a student and wanted to ask that what will be the benefits for me if I give SAT as a foreigner?

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