SAT Percentiles and Score Rankings


It is of prime importance to understand the scoring part when you take any test, and the same stands true for the SAT as well. However, it is a bit varied when you compare it to the other tests. It is mandatory for us to understand the scoring thoroughly, to allocate proper time for preparation and to get the desired score, and the admission into the universities thereafter.

What are SAT Score Percentiles?

What are SAT Score Percentiles

Your SAT percentile is a combination of your English and Math test scores. Each section has a range of 200-800; combined it ranges anywhere between 400-1600. Percentile ranges from 1-99. Your percentile is an indicator of where you stand amongst all the test takers, imagine you get the 99th percentile, then it effectively means that you stand above 99% of the competition. Which in most cases is considered a direct passport to ivy league? Remember, that your percentile is not a grade card, like the ones you get in school, for example, the 99th percentile doesn’t exactly mean that you got 99% marks.

Related Blog Post: SAT Acceptance by Leading Indian Universities & Colleges


Why do Percentiles Matter?

Percentiles are a comparative indicator for the colleges to have their pick amongst the choice of students. It gives them a relative performance estimate of a student when a pool of students is considered. It also gives an idea of the student’s performance on the respective subjects.

The below chart illustrates the composite score and the respective percentile rankings. One must follow the caution: These may change as per the intake and one must keep up with the latest set of scores. The below scores are the latest to date and as of today, you can follow them.

SAT Composite Score

The below chart illustrates the subject wise percentile rankings. The same caution applies here: These may change as per the intake.

What are the Percentile Ranges for the SAT?

It is evident that percentile is very important if you have not taken the test and are planning to retake the test, it is important to understand the composite SAT scores. Fortunately, the College board discloses data about composite scores and the respective percentile rankings. However, there would be variations from year to year and candidates have to check them regularly.

It is important to note that percentile ranks shift quickly with the middle scores, for instance, the difference between 1450 to 1600, the highest possible difference is only 4 percentiles, so the points would be 96-99 only. But, at the same time, the gap between 1100 and 1250 has a vast percentile difference: 59-81. To make it clear if you score 1100 or lower, the overall composite score would boost up by 150 points to the overall percentile.

Also, the percentile ranks vary drastically towards the middle scores. 500 in EBRW is only 405 but 600 is 73%. In other words, a 100-point increment can do a lot. Moreover, a 100-point improvement is manageable with proper preparation. Note that the math curve is way more competitive when compared to the EBRW. If you are aiming at the same percentile in both EBRW and Math, one must make sure that one gets a higher score in Math due to the competitive factor.

How can Knowing Your SAT Percentile Help You?

We have already learned that knowing about the percentiles are important, due to their heavy influence on rankings and admissions. However, the expectations of the universities change with every intake. And it is better to keep in touch with the needs of the universities.

Finally, SAT percentile ranking is a guiding tool for your admission into desired colleges, especially if you are deciding whether or not to retake the SAT. Percentiles really help you to put the scores in context. This means the more you score the better chances you have at the desired college.

One must not forget that Math is a primary benefactor, but EBRW needs strategic planning. Both of them are equally important.

Related Blog Post: How to Calculate and Understand SAT Score


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