Lowest SAT Score | What Is the Threshold for Getting You Into Law School?

The lowest SAT score possible is 400 points, which students get by combining 200 points in the Evidence-based Reading and Writing section, and 200 points in Math.

Of course, nobody wants to be getting such a low score, especially after months of SAT prep and worrying. But it can happen. To avoid that you should choose a proven SAT prep course and get a trusted SAT prep book, to begin with. Also, find out the SAT scores by state in this post.

This guide should help you take a closer look at SAT scores and determine the most realistic possible score you can get once you take the SAT.

Low SAT Score FAQs

Some people would tell you that your SAT score is just one part of your college admission. Other factors, such as your GPA, can help you get into the college school of your dreams. While this is true, it is also true that your chances of getting into your top 1 choice become higher with better SAT scores.

Colleges want a student body with a high SAT average because it makes the school look more competitive. As such, admissions officers would have their eyes set on applicants with higher SAT scores.So, is 1400 a good SAT score? - you may ask. And how about a little less than that - Is 1200 a good SAT score? Moreover, you can check out the average SAT scores, too.

Of course, the standard of one school is different from the next school, so the best way to determine if a score is "low" is to go with national percentiles (or how well you did when compared to other college students who took the SAT across the country).

SAT Score Frequently Asked Questions

Before we tackle some FAQs, you need to keep these 4 things in mind about your SAT scores:

  • 1600 is the highest score test takers could get. (1600 was the original maximum SAT score, then it was revised with a 2400 scale, then reverted to 1600)
  • Getting 0 (zero) on the exam is impossible. Even if you think you got a disappointing score, you will never get a zero on the exam.
  • The SAT has only two main sections: Evidence-based Reading and Writing (aka EBRW) and Math section. The EBRW and math section is worth 800 points each.
  • The average score is 1060, but this number may change every year.

Now let's dig deeper with these frequently asked questions and discuss specific SAT scores:

student picking a book

Is a 700 Score on the SAT Good?

If you got a total score of 700, you join about 2 million other test-takers with the same or higher score as you. This score places you in the bottom 2nd percentile nationally.

700 score is quite low for private and Ivy League colleges, but less than 100 colleges accept this score.

When searching for colleges, make two lists:

  • Your "Top 3 Schools" which may or may not be Ivy League schools, and
  • Your "Safety Schools" accepts students' SAT scores in the 500 to 800 range.

Is a 910 a Good SAT Score?

If you got a total score of 900 to 910, you join about 1.6 million other people with a similar score range.  This puts you in the 23rd percentile nationally.

910 is still a bit low for Ivy schools, but you'll be able to expand your list of colleges with this number. In fact, if you pick the right college, your composite scores might be competitive enough to get financial aid merits.

Is 1000 a Good SAT Score?

If you got a composite score of 1000, this number puts you in the 40th percentile nationally. This means your score is better than 40% of all other students who took the SATs in the country at the same time as you.

A mix of less selective institutions accepts applicants with SATs in the 950 to 1050 range. If you had been dreaming of attending a liberal arts college, you should be confident that your score could get you into that college.

Is 1200 a Good SAT Score?

If you got a 1200 score, this puts you in the 75th percentile nationally. This means you scored better than 75% of 1.6 million other students from across the US.

With this score, you have the best shot at being accepted at schools like Boston University, University of Southern California,  Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, University of Miami, and The Ohio State University, among other schools.

What is the Lowest SAT Score to Pass the SAT?

The lowest score you can get on the SAT is 400 theoretically. But even if you guessed half of the answers to the questions, you'd still get 25% of them correct.

Lowest SAT Scores Universities Accept

Ivy League Schools

Harvard University, Princeton University, Penn,  Yale, Dartmouth College, Columbia, Brown University accept test scores ranging from 1410 to 1600.

Cornell University is the only Ivy League that accepts scores beginning 1100 to 1400 and up.

Other Private Schools

If you're planning to attend a private college, the average SAT test score would vary significantly. Some in-demand private schools could follow Ivy League policies on SATs, while others don't weigh SATs during admission.

For example:

New York University finds students with 1320 to 1500 scores a suitable fit for the school

Boston College is just as competitive, accepting students with 1340 to 1510 scores

Public Schools

Not all public schools accept low test scores. For example, the University of Michigan prefers college students with SATs from 1350 and up. UCLA (a research school in high-demand for its awesome athletic program) eyes students in the 1280 to 1520 level.

Shooting for the Stars: Goal SAT Scores

What's a good SAT score? And how does a 1500 SAT score compares to the national average? The answer depends on the type of college you want to attend.

Aim for about 1550 rate if you're planning to apply to an Ivy League school

Get around 1400 rate if the public or private college is competitive, or if you wish to get financial aid upon admission.

Get around a 1300 rate to be able to have more options in choosing schools.

As you can imagine, one college may deem your test scores as low SAT scores, but other college universities may consider the number more than enough to get into their schools.

Comparing Your Score

If you already took the SATs and you want to know if you did well, you can compare your composite score two ways.

Your score vs. the average score of students applying to your chosen school - Many schools publish the national SAT average of their student body to showcase how competitive they are. The data often includes averages and per-section scores. If you want to compare your score with your dream school, visit the school site, and check their SAT percentile. This number could give you an idea if the school you decide to go to is a match (or a longshot).

Your score vs. the national average - If your scores are near the national average SAT scores, you have a high possibility of being accepted into most colleges. If your composite score is better than the national average, then you probably have a chance at financial aid from your chosen college.

Find out the national average scores (from the most current year) and from the school of your dreams before test-taking, as this number could also help you aim for a specific range of scores.

two girls studying

Things You Can do to Improve Your Scores

Most high school students know that they require a combination of academic planning, time management, and finding out what they personally need to score as high as they can at the SATs.

Retake the Test

The College Board allows you to retake the SATs as many times as you want. You do have to shoulder the price of $40 for the test (or $60 if taken with the essay) with every re-take.

The SATs are offered nationwide in August, October, November, December, March, May, and June every year. Most people take their first SATs in junior year of high school and retake the next year if the need to bring up their average SAT score arises.

Score Choice & Superscoring

The College Board also lets students pick their best SAT record with Score Choice. If you took the SAT  two or more times, the College Board saves up to 6 of them on file. Pick the test dates with the best score, since you can't cherry-pick from top section scores.

Take a look at which colleges superscore SAT scores. Superscoring benefits students significantly because instead of being stuck with a low composite score, you can take only the top Evidence-based reading and writing score from multiple tests, and then add it to your top score from the math section.

Prep and Find Help

Lastly, test prep as early as sophomore high school when your academic class studies aren't as demanding. The earlier you study for the entrance exam, the more familiar you are with every SAT question. Don't wait until you are a senior student or after you graduate - you might not have enough time to prepare for the tests by then.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you don't have the time to create your own reviewer, you might find help in prep books (there are free and paid study resources online). You can even take a class in your free time. 

Leonard Haggin

I created this site to help students like you learn from the experiences my team had learned during our extensive academic careers. I am now studying Law at Stanford, but I also make time to write articles here in order to help all you fellow students advance in your academic careers and beyond. I hope our efforts on Study Prep Lounge will arm you with the knowledge you need to overcome whatever trial or test you find in front of you.

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