high school student prepping for the sat

A common question about the SAT is “what is a good SAT score?” In truth, the answer to this question varies depending on individual goals and school admission requirements. With such a vague answer, how can students know which score aligns with their goals?

Finding this answer begins with creating a list of potential colleges and researching their SAT requirements. Pay attention to the median SAT scores as they provide an SAT range for the middle 50% of accepted students. This middle 50% provides an estimated range of scores deemed acceptable for college admission.

The Importance of SAT Percentiles

After completing the SAT, students receive a composite and percentile score. Composite scores are between 400 and 1600, while percentile scores are from 1 to 99. Percentile scores show how a student’s composite and section scores compare to others who took the SAT.

Students receiving a composite percentile of 70 scored higher than 70% of students who took the SAT nationwide. Students receiving a math percentile of 90 scored higher than 90% of students who took the SAT math section nationwide.

Colleges use percentiles to see how an applicant’s scores compares with the competition. Doing well on the SAT, maintaining a strong GPA, grades, and extracurriculars can make a college application more competitive.

What is the Middle 50%?

The median SAT scores, or middle 50%, are found in the range between the 25th and 75th percentiles. Remove the top 25% and bottom 25% as they account for students scoring at, above, or below the scores listed. This middle range gives students a range of scores to aim for when taking the SATs.

The middle 50% also tells students which scores they need to be competitive applicants for their dream colleges. For example, the middle 50% at the University of Connecticut (UConn) for the 2022 class scored between 1210 and 1390. A “good” score could be 1300 to 1390 while a score of 1390+ would make an applicant more competitive.

Remember, SAT scores are only part of a student’s college application. GPAs, extra curriculars, and essays are also factored into the strength of a student’s application. If students are unsure how to build or strengthen their college application, contact us to learn more.

Middle 50% for the Class of 2025

An excellent resource for determining the median SAT scores is College Board’s Big Future. It is also an excellent resource for understanding ways to pay and prepare for college. Those interested in accessing all features on this site will need to make an account.

Another reliable source is the U.S. News & World Report. We have compiled a list of national universities, national liberal arts colleges, and test score data*.

Top 25 National Universities


U.S. News Ranking School Middle 50% SAT Scores
1 Princeton University 1450-1570
2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 1510-1580
3 Harvard University 1460-1580
3 Stanford University 1420-1570
3 Yale University 1460-1580
6 University of Chicago 1500-1570
7 Johns Hopkins University 1480-1570
7 University of Pennsylvania 1450-1570
9 California Institute of Technology (CalTech) 1530-1580
10 Duke University 1510-1560
10 Northwestern University 1430-1550
12 Dartmouth College 1440-1560
13 Brown University 1440-1570
13 Vanderbilt University 1460-1560
15 Rice University 1460-1570
15 Washington University in St. Louis 1460-1560
17 Cornell University 1400-1540
18 Columbia University 1470-1570
18 University of Notre Dame 1420-1560
20 University of California, Berkley 1290-1530
20 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 1290-1520
22 Carnegie Mellon University 1460-1560
22 Emory University 1380-1530
22 Georgetown University 1380-1550
25 New York University (NYU) 1370-1540
25 University of Michigan—Ann Arbor 1340-1560
25 University of Southern California< 1340-1530
25 University of Virginia 1320-1510

*Test score data is for acceptances in Spring 2021 for the class of 2025. SAT totals are for math and critical reading.

National Liberal Arts Colleges


U.S. News Ranking School Middle 50% SAT Scores
1 Williams College 1410-1560
2 Amherst College 1410-1550
3 Pomona College 1390-1540
4 Swarthmore College 1395-1540
5 Wellesley College 1350-1520
6 Bowdoin College 1330-1510
6 Carleton College 1340-1510
6 United States Naval Academy 1230-1450
9 Claremont McKenna College 1330-1500
9 United States Military Academy at West Point 1210-1440
11 Middlebury College 1340-1520
11 Washington and Lee University 1350-1500
13 Smith College 1325-1510
13 Vassar College 1360-1520
15 1300-1460
15 Grinnell College 1340-1510
15 Hamilton College 1380-1510
18 Barnard College 1350-1518
18 Colgate University 1300-1470
18 Haverford College 1360-1520
18 United States Air Force Academy 1300-1460
18 University of Richmond 1280-1460
18 Wesleyan University 1340-1520
24 Colby College 1380-1520
25 Bates College 1210-1420

*Test score data is for acceptances in Spring 2021 for the class of 2025. SAT totals are for math and critical reading.

SAT Prep with C2 Education

Hopefully, students have already started preparing for their SATs. If not, now is the perfect time to begin developing an SAT prep plan to maximize future scores. Regardless of the middle 50% for a student’s dream college, they should strive to set themselves apart from other applicants.

Having a strong GPA, college essay, and high SAT scores can help make a college application more competitive. Scoring well on the SAT begins with SAT prep and practice tests. Taking practice tests helps students become familiar with the test format and improve information retention.

C2 Education provides a personalized approach to SAT prep. Our process begins with an initial assessment to determine a student’s current strengths and weaknesses. We analyze these results to create a customized program to meet each student’s needs.

Each program is tailored to address changing needs as they arise. Students in our SAT Prep program learn vital test taking skills as they overcome current weaknesses and improve their confidence.

Aiming for Your Ideal SAT Score

Rather than asking what makes an SAT score “good”, ask which SAT score aligns with requirements for schools of interest. Look into the middle 50% of SAT scores for potential schools and begin SAT test prep to maximize test scores.

C2 Education offers a customized SAT prep program to help students earn high scores for a competitive application. Interested in learning more about our SAT Prep program? Visit our website or call us at (888) 312-3814 to get started.