SAT Score Percentiles

October 25, 2018

Applying to a prestigious undergraduate program or university is chockfull of essential to-dos. Not only do you need to assemble your academic transcripts, in addition to your GPA and letters of recommendation, but a high SAT score is usually needed for admittance to elite schools. Frankly, sorting students out by their SAT (or ACT) scores is a way of organizing the thousands of applications schools receive every year. Can you imagine being on the admissions committee at a school like Harvard with all of the essays and transcripts you would have to look at? Just the thought is headache-worthy!

It's because of this organization of student scores that percentiles come into play as important factors in undergraduate admissions. For example, many universities and colleges will publish percentiles in the 25th and 75th categories. 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.

Finally, we will also explore percentiles with particular schools in the 25th and 75th categories. Should any of these elite schools be on your list, you will see for yourself the type of competition you will be up against. Ready to learn more about this process? Hopefully, we break it down for you in an easily understood manner so you can absorb all that's necessary and then get back to your rigorous course of SAT study!

SAT Composite Percentiles

Most percentiles with the SAT are published or categorized in terms of a composite or total score. Below you will see score ranges in the left-hand column and then a percentile on the right. Again, this is utilizing the updated SAT scoring rubric, where a 1600 is considered a perfect score, so if you are starting at an older score with a very different range, you might want to convert that, which is easily done online. Take a look at these ranges and see where you might line up—or where you hope to line up when it comes time to send that application off in the mail. 

Range of SAT Composite ScorePercentile
1550-160099+
1500-155099 to 99+
1450-150097 to 99
1400-145094 to 97
1350-140091 to 94
1300-135087 to 91
1250-130081 to 87
1200-125074 to 81
1150-120067 to 74
1100-115058 to 67
1050-110049 to 58
1000-105039 to 49
950-100031 to 39
900-95023 to 31
850-90015 to 23
800-85010 to 15
750-8005 to 10
700-7502 to 5
650-7001 to 2
600-6501- to 1
550-6001-

SAT Percentiles by EBRW & Math Sections

Sometimes schools will publish percentiles based on the EBRW and Math sections. Again, a composite or total score percentile is more common and streamlined, but if your undergraduate discipline requires more of a focus in math or verbal skills, then this may be of use to you. It never hurts to find out where we rest in terms of a percentile with each section. 

Section Score RangeEBRW PercentilesMath Percentiles
780-80099+98 to 99+
760-78099 to 99+97 to 98
740-76098 to 9996 to 97
720-74097 to 9894 to 96
700-72094 to 9792 to 94
680-70092 to 9489 to 92
660-68088 to 9286 to 89
640-66084 to 8883 to 86
620-64078 to 8479 to 83
600-62072 to 7875 to 79
580-60066 to 7269 to 75
560-58059 to 6664 to 69
540-56052 to 5957 to 64
520-54045 to 5249 to 57
500-52038 to 4540 to 49

SAT Percentiles by School

This is probably the information you have been waiting for, as it reveals the 25th and 75th percentiles for each school. While there are many other schools that publish this information, these are just a handful and some of the more elite ones. Notice the acceptance rate is also included in this table, which sheds more light on the process and odds of acceptance as a whole. Is your school listed on here? If so, where do you line up in terms of a percentile? 

UniversitySAT 25th PercentileSAT 75th PercentileAcceptance Rate
Stanford University138015805%
Harvard University143016005%
University of Pennsylvania138015709%
Rice University1410157015%
MIT146015908%
Columbia University141015907%
Duke University1380157011%
Brown University137015709%
Yale University142016006%
Vanderbilt University142015906%
Princeton University140015907%
Carnegie Mellon University1380155022%
University of Chicago145016008%

SAT Percentiles: The Takeaway

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. Below is a table featuring SAT section averages from 2014-2016. Ideally, you want to try to surpass these averages, as it will increase your chances of admission. 

YearCritical ReadingMathWriting
2014497513487
2015495511484
2016494508482

Our advice? 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.