Photograph of a high school student

Source: Flickr user cityyear.

As tens of thousands of student around the country receive their SAT score, one of the first questions that many of them ask seems simple: How does my score compare to the scores of other students?

Often, students wonder what other students have scored–or, what is considered an “average” SAT score.

It’s natural to want to know how your SAT score compares to those of your peers. After all, many students end up applying to competitive and selective schools, where your score may mean the difference between being accepted and being denied.

In reality, your score doesn’t matter so much in comparison to all other students, but perhaps the most relevant question to ask is how does it stack up against other students who are admitted to the colleges which you’re planning to apply?

Colleges and universities around the country do publish this kind of information. Generally, the report the 25th and 75th percentile SAT scores of all students that are admitted in a given year. So, while these aren’t “minimum” SAT score requirements (very few colleges have published minimums), they do give you an idea of what the admissions officers may be expecting for an SAT score of a prospective student. This can help you see what your odds of being accepted might look like.

Secondly, each year, College Board also publishes a distribution of the SAT scores from all students. So, in a broader sense, students can at least get a general idea of how their score compares to all other students who took the test.

1. Median SAT Scores – National “Average” SAT Scores

College Board publishes a break down of all students’ scores on the SAT each year.

Rather than publishing an “average” SAT score specifically, they publish a chart that shows the percentile rankings of each different score ranges. What this means is that a student can find their SAT score on the chart and it will tell them both what percentage of students they scored higher than (their percentile ranking) as well as an approximation of what percentage of all students scored within their range (by subtracting the percentiles).

SAT distribution for 2014:

SAT Composite Score Range Percentile Range
2350-2400 99+ to 99+
2300-2350 99 to 99+
2250-2300 99 to 99
2200-2250 98 to 99
2150-2200 97 to 98
2100-2150 96 to 97
2050-2100 95 to 96
2000-2050 93 to 95
1950-2000 91 to 93
1900-1950 88 to 91
1850-1900 85 to 88
1800-1850 81 to 85
1750-1800 77 to 81
1700-1750 73 to 77
1650-1700 68 to 73
1600-1650 63 to 68
1550-1600 57 to 63
1500-1550 52 to 57
1450-1500 46 to 52
1400-1450 40 to 46
1350-1400 34 to 40
1300-1350 28 to 34
1250-1300 23 to 28
1200-1250 18 to 23
1150-1200 14 to 18
1100-1150 10 to 14
1050-1100 7 to 10
1000-1050 5 to 7
950-1000 4 to 5
900-950 2 to 4
850-900 2 to 2
800-850 1 to 2
750-800 1 to 1
700-750 1­ to 1
650-700 1­ to 1­
600-650 — to 1­

As an example, in this case you can see that composite scores of 1450-1500 have a percentile ranking of 46-52, which means that if you scored within this range, you scored higher than approximately 46-52 percent of all students.

Because the 50th percentile also falls into this range, you know that the median SAT score is also near the center of this range–approximately a 1480, in this case.

2. “Average” ACT Scores at Each College

What may be more relevant to you as a student is not how you compare to all students, but how you compare to students at a particular college.

“Is my SAT score good enough to get into UCLA?” you might be asking yourself.

If you want to get an idea for how your score compares–and an idea of what your admissions chances might be–then you can look at the distribution of SAT scores within a single college.

On College Raptor, we publish the 25th and 75th percentile SAT scores for all colleges that report it. So, in just a few minutes, you can see how your score stacks up. Keep in mind that, again, these are not truly “average” SAT scores. Instead, they show you how about half of admitted students scored. Based on this data, you can see that 50% of all students score somewhere within this range. But, it’s not a rigid guideline. Half of students score outside of this range–about 25% higher and 25% lower.

Here are some examples:

University of California Los Angeles average SAT scores

SAT score distribution at University of California at Los Angeles

(via College Raptor)

Rice University average ACT scores

SAT score distribution at Rice University

(via College Raptor)

Roanoke College average SAT scores

SAT score distribution at Roanoke College

(via College Raptor)