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What Are SAT Score Percentiles?

Jan 24, 2023
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SAT Score Percentiles – Your Ultimate Guide

Are you an SAT aspirant? Or have you taken the SAT recently? Well, we understand how tough it feels when you have to decide whether you should retake the SAT or what composite score you should aim for to get into the top colleges.

We won’t leave you alone in this tough decision, so this quick and concise guide will provide you with all the information about SAT Score Percentiles that will help you maximize your SAT score and increase your chances of getting admission into one of the top colleges.

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What are SAT Score Percentiles?

You might be wondering now, what exactly are SAT Score Percentiles! Well, let’s first dig deeper into this and understand the basics of SAT Score Percentiles.
Your SAT Score Report will provide you with two things, your total composite SAT score which ranges from 400 to 1600, and your percentile ranking which will range from 1 to 99. Like your total SAT score, your percentile ranking will also be provided for your overall SAT exam and also for each of the two sections – Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing.

Percentile is an everyday use term and in the layman’s language, it means a number where a certain percentage of scores fall below that number or simply they help you compare your performance with other test-takers. It plays the same role in SAT, your SAT percentile helps you understand your performance in comparison with the other SAT-takers.

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Your SAT percentile rank will tell you the percentage of students who have scored lower than or equal to you. Your SAT Percentile rank, unlike the SAT Score, helps you determine where you stand and evaluate the chances of your getting into the top college. It clearly states to you, how well have you performed in context with direct comparison to other test-takers.

For instance, your composite percentile of 85 infers that your score is higher than 85 percent of students who appeared for the test.

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The Two Types Of SAT Score Percentiles

Let’s move ahead to understand what the two types of percentiles displayed on your SAT score mean and in what context they differ. Your SAT score percentiles, either overall or for individual sections, have been divided into two types – the Nationally Representative Sample Percentile and the SAT User Percentile. These are divided to compare student scores and their performances based on two different reference populations.

The Nationally Representative Sample Percentiles

The Nationally Representative Sample Percentiles are concluded from a detailed research study of the U.S. Students in grades 11 and 12. Regardless of whether these students typically took the test or not, these percentiles are leaden to represent all U.S. students in the 11 and 12 grades.

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The SAT User Percentile

The SAT User Percentile represents and compares the performance of students based on actual scores in the past three current graduating classes and who typically took the current SAT.
Conclusively, since your User SAT Percentile doesn’t take into consideration the students who didn’t typically appear for the test, it becomes more useful in determining how competitive your scores are concerning college admissions. Your Nationally Representative Sample Percentiles will be higher than User SAT Percentiles.

Do Not Get Confused!

With score percentiles, your performance will not be measured as points against fixed or objective scales, instead, everything about score percentiles are based on your performance against all your other competitors for the same exam.

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Simply put, if you get the 70th percentile, it means that your score is better than 70 per cent of your competitors and not that you have correctly answered 70% of questions.

What are SAT Percentile Scores for School? 

You took the SAT or planned to take it, but your main priority would be admission. However, a good SAT score for college is determined by a variety of factors. The most important of these is the college’s competitiveness and prestige.

As a result, the SAT percentile varies by college. It is determined by college students’ SAT scores. Each school has an average SAT score, as well as the 25th and 75th SAT Percentiles.

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Only 25% of incoming students have SAT scores lower than the given score.

75%: 75% of incoming students have lower SAT scores than the given score.

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Average Percentile: The average SAT score of students accepted into a specific college.

Percentiles – A Complete Data to Help You

The data mentioned below provides you with the information about what composite score you need to bag to hit a certain percentile range. The inferences from the data will help you prepare a scheduled study plan and help you prioritize.

The College Board releases data about the composite score and simultaneous percentile ranges. Though this data changes slightly from year to year, we will provide you with the latest information to provide you with an estimate.

Table – Percentile Range for Composite Scores

SAT Composite Score RangePercentile
1550-160099 to 99+
1500-155098 to 99
1450-150096 to 98
1400-145094 to 96
1350-140090 to 94
1300-135086 to 90
1250-130081 to 86
1200-125074 to 81
1150-120067 to 74
1100-115059 to 67
1050-110050 to 59
1000-105041 to 50
950-100033 to 41
900-95025 to 33
850-90018 to 25
800-85011 to 18
750-8006 to 11
700-7503 to 6
650-7001 to 3
600-6501- to 1
550-6001-
500-5501-
450-5001-
400-4501-

From the above data, we can infer that the percentile ranks change enormously for the middle scores. For instance, if we look at the difference in percentile ranks for a score range of 1450 to 1600 that is the highest score, it is only 4 points difference from 96 to 99. However, for the middle score range of 1100 to 1250 the percentile rank takes a huge leap from 59 to 81.
Therefore, if you boost your score up by 150 in the retake test, if you scored around 1100 or lower in the current one, your percentile rank will boost up by huge numbers.

Table – Percentile Range for Section Scores

SAT Section Score RangesEBRW PercentilesMath Percentiles
780-80099+98 to 99+
760-78099 to 99+96 to 98
740-76098 to 9995 to 96
720-74096 to 9893 to 95
700-72094 to 9691 to 93
680-70091 to 9489 to 91
660-68088 to 9186 to 89
640-66083 to 8882 to 86
620-64078 to 8379 to 82
600-62073 to 7875 to 79
580-60067 to 7369 to 75
560-58060 to 6764 to 69
540-56054 to 6058 to 64
520-54047 to 5450 to 58
500-52040 to 4742 to 50
480-50034 to 4036 to 42
460-48027 to 3430 to 36
440-46021 to 2724 to 30
420-44015 to 2119 to 24
400-42011 to 1515 to 19
380-4007 to 1110 to 15
360-3804 to 77 to 10
340-3602 to 44 to 7
320-3401 to 22 to 4
300-3201- to 11 to 2
280-3001-1- to 1
260-2801-1-
240-2601-1-
220-2401-1-
200-2201-1-

From the above data, you can note the same change that the percentile scores increase dramatically for the middle scores. For instance, the total score of Evidence-Based Reading and Writing at 500 is at the 40 percentile but at 600 it goes to the 73 percentile. Just with a leap of 100 score points, you can boost your SAT score percentiles tremendously.

Also if we compare the sections with each other, we can deduce that the math curve becomes more competitive near the top as compared to the EBRW curve. For instance, at a 700 score, the percentile will be approximately 91 for math and 94 for EBRW. And at a 760 score, the percentile becomes around 96 for math and 99 for EBRW. So if you aim to get a similar percentile in both sections, you need to work more rigorously and get a higher score in Math.

How Can the Percentile Help You and Your School? 

The percentile score will help you understand your performance compared to other students. Because it reveals how well you performed compared to a given percentage of students. 

If your percentile score exceeds 75, you outperform three-quarters of exam takers. And if it’s 50, you’re a higher-than-average test taker. Similarly, it assists schools in determining their 25th and 75th percentiles. They do so using the SAT scores of the students who have been admitted to the school. It helps them in deciding which new students to accept. 

Additionally, the Percentile allows you to evaluate your EBRW and Math section scores. The same math and EBRW score do not result in the same Percentile. As previously stated, a higher math score is required to get the same Percentile as EBRW. Individual scores can help determine where you are lacking if you ever need to retake the exam. 

Table – Percentile Ranks for total and section scores by Gender and Race/Ethnicity

Sat_percentile_ranks
Source:<https://satsuite.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/sat-percentile-ranks-gender-race-ethnicity.pdf>

sat_score_Percentiles

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