good SAT score
Here’s how you can achieve your target score on the SAT. Source: Christophe Archambault/AFP

If you’re planning on pursuing your undergraduate degree in the US, you might have to take the SAT to prove your readiness for college. If you’re not familiar with what the test entails, you might have questions such as: What makes a good SAT score? What’s a low score? How can I work towards achieving my dream score? We tackle these questions and more below:

First, what’s the SAT?

The SAT is a multiple-choice entrance exam by the College Board used by many colleges and universities in the US. It consists of a Reading Test, a Writing and Language Test, and a Math Test. The College Board notes that most of the questions are multiple-choice, but some math questions want students to write in the answer rather than select it. 

The College Board announced on Jan. 25, 2022 that the SAT will be completely digital by 2024, with the test duration cut from three hours to just two. The changes will take effect beginning March 2023 at international test centres, before arriving in American-based test centres and schools in the spring of 2024.

What’s a good SAT score?

The College Board notes that a good SAT score “is one that helps you get admitted to a college that you want to go to”. The average SAT score in 2019 was 1,050, but your total score is between 400 and 1,600.

“Any score above that would be above average and perfectly acceptable for many colleges. A score of 1,350 would put you in the top 10% of test-takers and help make your application competitive at more selective schools,” said the College Board. 

In deciding what a good SAT score is for you, you could look at the average SAT score of your target college or university for an admitted freshman and use it as your target. 

It’s worth noting that the total score is the sum of the two-section scores: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Math. “Each of these two section scores has a possible range of 200–800. The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score is composed of the Reading Test and the Writing and Language Test, and each of those tests contributes equally to the section score. The Math section score is made up of the Math Test only,” said the College Board.

good sat score

Use practice tests and work your way towards getting your target score. Source: Richard Bouhet/AFP

How can I prepare for the SAT?

You’ve probably heard that practice makes perfect, and the same theory can be applied towards achieving your goal of getting a good SAT score. There are online resources for you to tap into. These include full-length practice tests on the College Board and the Khan Academy.

Where can I take my SAT?

You can find countries or regions that offer the SAT here.

Is my SAT score the ultimatum in my university application?

Don’t worry — your SAT score is not the be-all and end-all as admissions officers at US colleges and universities also look into your grades, application essay and extracurriculars in your application. Ensure you give yourself enough time to practice SAT questions before your test day and you’ll be well on your way to studying at your dream university in the Land of Opportunity. Good luck!