College and university admissions officers also focus on SAT score percentiles. Therefore, knowing your SAT percentiles is an important aspect of the preparation process. Do you really know what SAT percentiles mean?

This article will explore percentiles in an effort to shed some light on a sometimes confusing topic. Hopefully, you will understand the way percentiles come into play with undergraduate admission and should you have a projected SAT score of your own handy you will probably be able to determine your own percentile.

What Are SAT Score Percentiles?

In addition to the composite score you get on the SAT (i.e., that number between 400 and 1600), you’ll get a percentile ranking, ranging from 1 to 99. The SAT gives you a percentile ranking for your overall composite score as well as for each of the two section scores: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and Math.

Your percentile tells you how you did on the SAT compared with everyone else who took the test.  

Your percentile score is not like a grade out of 100. For instance, if you get a percentile of 90, this doesn’t mean you got exactly 90% of the questions right. It just means that compared with everyone who took the SAT, you scored higher than 90% of them. 

How are Percentiles useful?

The National Percentile statistic helps you:

Colleges use percentiles to compare you with other students. If you got, say, an SAT score in the 90th percentile, this would make you competitive for many schools since you scored better than 90% of students nationwide.

Paying attention to your percentile ranking, as well as your composite score, can give you the best idea of your performance and help you make strategic choices about which colleges to apply to.

What Are the Percentile Ranges for the SAT?

OK, so you get that percentile rankings are important. But if you haven’t taken the SAT yet or have taken it and plan to retake it, what composite SAT score should you shoot for in order to get a certain percentile ranking?

Luckily, the College Board releases data about composite scores and matching percentile rankings to help you figure this out. These numbers change slightly from year to year, but we have the most recent info from 2018. We’ve summarized the SAT percentile ranges here in a percentile chart. Just find your score to see your estimated percentile.

In the end, raising your percentile is dependent on a higher score. So instead of worrying about where you may line up in terms of a percentage, try instead to focus on effective test day strategies and techniques that will increase and expand your already impressive score. Study hard, stay the course, and don’t forget that knowledge is power. Knowing your percentile and checking in with it every so often as you take mock SAT exams will help bring you insight and clarity into your path forward.

 

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