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Are Your SAT Scores Good Enough?

By Allen Grove, About.com Guide

Question: Are Your SAT Scores Good Enough?

What are good SAT scores? Do you have the SAT scores you need to get into your top choice schools? This article explains the relationship between college admissions and SAT scores. You can also check out these SAT links (or ACT links1):

·         SAT Comparison Charts: the Ivy League2 | top universities (non-Ivy)3 | top liberal arts colleges4 | more top liberal arts5 | top public universities6 | top public liberal arts colleges7 | University of California campuses8 | Cal State campuses9 | SUNY campuses10 | Southeastern Conference11 | more SAT charts12

 

·         Subject Test Score Information: Biology13 | Chemistry14 | Literature15 | Math16 | Physics17

 

·         A to Z College Profiles18 (SAT score information for hundreds of colleges)

 

·         20 Great Colleges for Not-So-Great Scores19

 

·         Test-Optional Colleges20

 

·         Review: Kaplan Complete SAT Prep21

 

Answer: SAT scores are just one of many criteria used by colleges to make admissions decisions. Nevertheless, their importance shouldn’t be underestimated. As much as admissions officers say they take an open-minded and holistic approach to their decisions, SAT scores can make or break an application. And let’s face it -- it’s easier to compare numerical data than it is to decide whether a semester in France should be ranked higher than a state soccer championship.

Also, schools usually make their SAT data public, and they know that their reputations depend upon high numbers. A college won’t be considered “highly selective” or “elite” if its students have an average SAT math score of 470.

So what is a good SAT score? The exam consists of three parts: Critical Reading, Mathematics and Writing. The scores from each section can range from 200 to 800, so the best possible total score is 2400. The average score for each section is roughly 500, so the average total score is about 1500. For the 1.65 million test-takers in the class of 2011, the mean scores were 497 critical reading, 514 math, and 489 writing.

Very few students get a perfect SAT score, even those at the country’s top colleges. The list below shows the middle range of SAT scores for different schools. The middle 50% of admitted students fell within these numbers. Keep in mind that 25% of students who were admitted scored below the lower numbers listed here.

Finally, you'll see that some of the school profiles include the critical reading and math scores, but not the writing scores. This is because the writing part of the exam is still new, and many schools do not yet use it in their admissions decisions. We're likely to see that change in the next couple years as colleges figure out the relationship between the writing score and academic success.

Click on the school names to see the full profiles.

Auburn (Main Campus)22

·         Critical Reading: 500 - 600

·         Mathematics: 520 - 620

·         Writing: 490 - 590

Carleton23

·         Critical Reading: 660 - 750

·         Mathematics: 660 - 760

·         Writing: 660 - 750

Duke24

·         Critical Reading: 660 - 750

·         Mathematics: 690 - 780

·         Writing: 670 - 770

Harvard25

·         Critical Reading: 690 - 790

·         Mathematics: 700 - 800

·         Writing: 690 - 790

MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology26

·         Critical Reading: 670 - 770

·         Mathematics: 740 - 800

·         Writing: 680 - 770

Middlebury27

·         Critical Reading: 640 - 740

·         Mathematics: 650 - 740

·         Writing: 650 - 750

Pomona28

·         Critical Reading: 680 - 780

·         Mathematics: 690 - 770

·         Writing: 680 - 780

Stanford29

·         Critical Reading: 670 - 770

·         Mathematics: 690 - 780

·         Writing: 680 - 780

UCLA30

·         Critical Reading: 570 - 680

·         Mathematics: 610 - 740

·         Writing: 580 - 710

For SAT score information for hundreds of other colleges, explore the A to Z list of admission profiles31.

If you'd like to receive weekly information on the SAT, ACT, colleges, and the admissions process, be sure to sign up for my free College Admissions Newsletter32.

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