Even though many schools are moving away from requiring standardized test scores for admission, a strong SAT score can still help an applicant stand out.
But what is a good score?
Here’s what experts had to say to U.S. News:
A strong score is subjective and may vary by institution. The average score for the class of 2021 was 1060, which falls within the range of some schools like Radford University in Virginia. Meanwhile an average score for colleges like the University of Pittsburgh is over 1200 for incoming freshmen. Higher ranked schools like the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins University in Maryland schools prefer higher scores.
To see if their score is on par with their desired college, students should look up the “middle 50,” the range of scores between the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile for the last admitted class. They should then set their target score to meet or exceed those ranges.
A good SAT score is not only relative to each college but to each student. The strength of the score is contextualized with a student’s GPA, rigor of high school courses and where they attend high school, according to Amy Seeley, founder and president of Seeley Test Pros.
“Students are often judged in comparison to their peers,” she said. “So what is the kind of level of work that’s happening with other students? If a student is at a school where there are no honors or AP courses, then of course they’re not going to be judged as much. But they are going to need a score that sets them apart from the other students at that school.”
How to improve your SAT score
Overall, practice is the key to improving your SAT scores. Studying for the SAT doesn’t have to be costly. Students can use free online test prep resources like Khan Academy.
However, don’t overdo it, experts warn. Connie Livingston, head of counselors at college admissions consulting firm Empowerly, advises students not to take the SAT more than three times, as their score may start to plateau.