What’s a Good SAT Subject Test Score?
If you decide to submit an SAT score instead of an ACT score to colleges, you may be required to take a few SAT subject tests to supplement your application. The colleges you are applying to will tell you whether they require you to take SAT subject tests and, if so, how many tests and which ones.
Once you take an SAT Subject Test, you’ll receive a score ranging from 200-800. It’s hard to determine based on that number whether you did well or whether you should retake the exam. In fact, “What is a good SAT Subject Test Score?” is the second most common question we at CollegeVine get about SAT Subject Tests (the first is “Which SAT Subject Tests should I take”)
To help you interpret your SAT Subject Test score and decide whether you could do better, here is a comprehensive guide on what it means to have a “good” SAT Subject Test score.
A Quick Review: What Is An SAT Subject Test?
An SAT Subject Test is a one-hour, timed standardized test administered by the College Board. There are 20 different subject tests you can choose from in a variety of different subjects. You register for SAT Subject Tests online in the same way that you register for the SAT. The only difference is that you can add or subtract SAT subject tests on the day of the exam, whereas you cannot alter your registration on SAT test day.
You are usually only required to submit an SAT Subject Test if the university you are applying to asks for it and if you’re submitting an SAT score, not an ACT score. If you plan to submit an ACT score to colleges, you usually don’t have to worry about SAT Subject Tests.
Breaking Down Your SAT Subject Test Score
A few weeks after you take an SAT subject test, you will receive a three-digit score number in a range from 200-800, with 800 being a perfect score. This number is the official score that will be sent to colleges.
In addition, you will receive a percentile score, which will tell you what percentage of students who took the same exam scored above you. For example, if your percentile score is 80%, that means that you scored above 80% of the other students who took that same exam.
Those two metrics, the three-digit score and the percentile score, are your two key indicators for how well you did on that particular SAT Subject Test.
What’s a Good SAT Subject Test Score?
Well, it depends. As a general rule, if you want a competitive score in order to gain admission to the top schools, you should aim to have a score in the 700’s or higher. However, that threshold can change depending on which exam you took, how many other students took it, and what the average test scores are for the colleges you are applying to.
A great way to determine whether you scored well is to compare yourself to the others who took the same test. Use your percentile score to determine how well your score compares to others. The higher the percentile, the better.
As a general rule, if you’re looking to apply to the Ivy League, your percentile should be around 95%. If you’re trying to aim for other competitive universities, try to be 80% or higher. However, this will vary on a school-by-school basis.
Determining Your Target SAT Subject Test Score
While these are good rules to follow on a surface level, you ought to walk into your SAT Subject Test day with a goal score in mind. In order to gauge what your target score should be, you should start by seeing what the average SAT Subject Test score is for the exams that you are taking. This information can be found under the “Resources” section on College Board’s “Understanding Your Score” webpage.
Secondly, you should check to see what the SAT Subject Test score range is for students who were accepted to the universities you are applying to. This information, unfortunately, is not available on one specific website. You will need to do some online research on the universities that you plan to apply to, and the information may not always be readily available. Nevertheless, these two methods should give you an idea of how high you need to score on your SAT Subject Tests.
For More Information
Want to learn more about SAT Subject Tests? Here are some great resources from CollegeVine:
Want more SAT tips sent to you?
Sign up below and we'll send you expert SAT tips and guides.