You Don’t Have to Have Top Scores to Get Into a Great College

So how do you figure out what a good SAT score is? You can only answer this question once you’ve done some research on types of colleges that you’re interested in applying to. One of the questions that you will need to determine for each of the colleges on your list is what the mid-range SAT scores are for each school.


Colleges report SAT scores for the middle 50% of their incoming freshman class. The scores come in a range. For example, a college may state that the middle 50% of its freshmen had a math SAT score in the range of 450 to 550.

Score report: excellent, very good, good, average, poor

At the same time, the college reports that 25% of students scored below 400 while 25% of students scored over 500. If your SAT score falls into that middle range of 450 to 550, then you can reasonably expect to be competitive for admission to that college.

There is no guarantee, however, that you will be accepted to the college if your scores are within the range of the bulk of scores from incoming freshmen.

Your Scores

By the same token, if your scores are in the lower 25th percentile, your chances of admission or lower. And on the other side of the spectrum, scores in the upper 25th percentile will probably boost your chances of admission.

Remember, however, that there are no guarantees. All you can do is create a college list that gives you the best chances of admission based on your academic record.

How much does your SAT score account in admissions process?

It depends.

Admissions committees look at students’ overall academic records, including SAT scores, GPA, and difficulty of coursework. Some schools-generally highly selective ones-tend to put a lot of weight on the SAT scores.

Other schools look at the SAT scores differently, however. In recent years, some schools are moving away from heavy reliance on SAT or ACT scores. Over 850 schools have recently made these tests optional for most applicants.

Colleges have two main reasons for removing test scores from their admissions requirements.

  1. They want to attract more applicants. And having more applicants improves their score in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. Test-optional schools have routinely seen a sharp increase in the number of applicants after dropping the test requirement. Many of these schools argue that GPA is a better factor for consideration.
  2. Colleges drop the required tests because they want to attract a more diverse student population. The SAT freaks many people out. As a result, colleges find that they see spikes in the number of applicants who apply because they don’t have to deal with the SAT.

For a list of all colleges that consider these tests to be optional, go to National Center for Fair and Open Testing.