After receiving SAT scores, students often wonder what their scores really mean. How does the score compare to other students’ performances, and is it enough to get into top schools?
If you scored a 1500 on your SAT, you likely have the same questions. Is 1500 a good SAT score? Does this mean you can get into your top choice college? What colleges can you get into, and which are out of reach?
In this guide, we’ll answer these questions and more, so you’ll know what earning a 1500 on the SAT means for you.
About SAT Scoring
First, let’s take a quick look at how the SAT is scored. You know that the SAT is divided into three main sections: Reading, Writing and Language, and Math (Calculator and No Calculator). There’s also an optional essay at the end of the exam.
When you receive your SAT score, you’ll get two section scores. The first is for Math, and the second is for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (a combination of your scores on the Reading section and the Writing and Language section). Section scores range from 200 to 800.
The combination of the two section scores is called your composite score, which ranges from 400 to 1600. 1600 is a perfect score, so the closer you get to 1600, the better. The optional essay is not factored into your composite score.
Your score report will also include information about how you performed on each individual section, and how well you demonstrated specific skills like Words in Context and Command of Evidence. Although your score report is packed with information, colleges are mostly interested in your section scores and composite score. If you decide to take the SAT again, the rest of the information can help you create a personalized study plan.
Is 1500 a Strong SAT Score?
Now that you understand SAT scores, let’s tackle the big question: Is 1500 a good SAT score?
You were only 100 points away from the coveted perfect score, and that’s no small accomplishment! Your score places you in the 99th percentile of all test-takers, meaning only 1% of test-takers scored higher than you.
Of course, the question of a “good” SAT score depends on where you want to go to school. Although a 1500 makes you a competitive candidate for over 1,400 schools, there are about 16 top schools where you may have a lower chance of acceptance.
For example, a 1500 is above average for many schools, including Boston College (1400), Wake Forest University (1390), Villanova University (1395), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1395), University of Miami (1355), University of Alabama (1184), Temple University (1238), and Syracuse University (1275). At these schools, your SAT score indicates that you have a good chance of acceptance.
Your 1500 score is about average at schools such as Stanford (1500), Northwestern (1490), University of Pennsylvania (1500), Dartmouth (1500), and Cornell (1480). If you want to stand out, it’s better to have an above-average SAT score, preferably in the 75th percentile for that school.
Additionally, remember that colleges evaluate your applications holistically. If you’re interested in schools where your SAT score is average, it’s important to focus on making other aspects of your application shine too: your GPA and rigor of schedule, extracurricular participation, letters of recommendation, and essay(s).
Finally, a score of 1500 is below average at top schools such as MIT (1540), Yale (1515), Harvard (1510), University of Chicago (1530), Caltech (1540), Vanderbilt (1510), Duke (1520), and Johns Hopkins (1520). At these universities, your SAT score gives you a lower chance of acceptance. But again, admissions officers evaluate your application holistically. Students with a slightly below-average SAT score who are exceptional in other areas of the application still have a chance of acceptance.
Ivy Leagues and a 1500 SAT Score
There are eight Ivy League universities in the United States. These schools are known for their prestigious reputations, academic excellence, and highly competitive admissions processes. Students all over the world want to attend an Ivy League school (and have the honor of listing it on their resumes), so earning a coveted Ivy League spot requires a stellar application.
We mentioned several Ivy League schools above, but let’s look at the average SAT score at every Ivy League university. The chart below also includes the 75th percentile SAT score at every Ivy League university.
|Ivy League University||Average SAT Score||75th Percentile SAT Score|
|University of Pennsylvania||1500||1560|
As you can see, your score of 1500 is an average or slightly below-average score for most Ivy League universities. Your score is slightly above-average at Cornell and Brown. However, admissions experts say that students applying to Ivy League universities should aim for a minimum score of 1470.
Your score is 30 points higher than the suggested minimum, but that’s not necessarily enough to gain you entry into the Ivy Leagues. Ideally, you want a score in the 75th percentile or higher. If you’re shooting for the Ivies, you can boost your chances by concentrating on other areas of your application. Or you can take the SAT again and aim for an even higher score.
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Top Public Schools and a 1500 Score
One advantage of attending a top public school instead of an Ivy League university is that public schools are significantly more affordable. The very best public schools even offer academic programs that can compete with the best of the Ivies, and their strong reputations provide excellent name recognition too.
According to U.S. College News and World Report, the Top 10 public universities in the United States include:
- University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA)
- University of California-Berkeley
- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
- University of Virginia
- University of California-Santa Barbara
- University of Florida
- University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
- University of California-San Diego
- University of California-Irvine
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- Purdue University
- University of Texas-Austin
Since you scored a 1500 on the SAT, you probably noticed we listed more than 10 schools! That’s because there are several ties in the U.S. News and World Report rankings.
We’ll cover the University of California (UC) schools next, so here are the average and 75th percentile SAT scores at the other top public universities in the nation.
|Top Public University||Average SAT Score||75th Percentile SAT Score|
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||1435||1530|
|University of Virginia||1430||1500|
|University of Florida||1360||1440|
|University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill||1395||1470|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||1465||1540|
|University of Texas-Austin||1355||1470|
Your SAT score of 1500 is above-average at the nation’s top public universities. It’s even above the top 75th percentile at almost all the topic public universities, except for the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, University of Virginia, and Georgia Institute of Technology. This makes you a highly competitive applicant at these schools, especially if the rest of your application is high-quality too.
UCs and a Good SAT Score
There are ten University of California (UC) campuses. Together, they comprise a system of public research universities that serve over 238,700 students. If you want, you can apply to all ten UC schools using the same application. However, you pay a $70 application fee for each UC school you apply to.
The ten UC universities are:
- UC Berkely
- UC Davis
- UC Irvine
- UC Los Angeles (UCLA)
- UC Merced
- UC Riverside
- UC San Diego
- UC San Francisco
- UC Santa Barbara
- UC Santa Cruz
As you can see from the list of top public universities, many UC schools rank among the top 10 public universities in the nation. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re in sunny California, with many campuses just minutes away from the beach, famous attractions, and excellent shopping, dining, and entertainment.
So, is 1500 a good score if you want to apply to UC schools? Let’s take a look.
|UC School||Average SAT Score||75th Percentile SAT Score|
|UC San Diego||1360||1470|
|UC San Francisco||1233||1330|
|UC Santa Barbara||1355||1480|
|UC Santa Cruz||1285||1400|
The competitiveness of UC schools varies. But 1500 SAT score places you in the above-average range at every UC school. Your score is also higher than the 75th percentile score at every UC school except UC Berkeley. If you’re interested in attending a UC school, you’re a highly competitive applicant.
Should I Retake the SAT if I Get a 1500?
If you scored a 1500 on the SAT, your score is already highly competitive at most universities. If you have strong grades, extracurricular participation, essay(s), and letters of recommendation too, then you’ll likely have your pick of schools.
However, you may want to consider taking the SAT again if you’re interested in the most competitive schools, such as:
- Ivy League universities
- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
- University of Virginia
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- UC Berkeley
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
- Northwestern University
- Vanderbilt University
- University of Chicago
- California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
- Duke University
- Johns Hopkins University
Keep in mind that you have a higher chance of acceptance if you score in the 75th percentile for the universities you want to attend. So, the choice of whether to retake the SAT depends on where you want to go to school. If you’re interested in top public universities, including UC schools, you’re better off investing time in polishing the other components of your application. Your SAT score is high enough already.
But if you’re aiming for the schools listed above, a higher SAT score could benefit you. Other considerations include how much time you have left to take another test (and study for it), your current workload and schedule, and whether you think the rest of your application is strong enough to offset a slightly lower SAT score.
Final Thoughts: Is 1500 a Good Score?
To put it simply, a 1500 is a good SAT score. You scored higher than 99% of test-takers, and just 100 points shy of perfect! It makes sense to consider what your SAT score means for getting into your dream schools, but make sure you take the time to feel proud of everything you’ve accomplished too.
At the vast majority of schools nationwide, your SAT score is above average. It puts you in an excellent position to get an acceptance letter almost anywhere. But if your top choices include Ivy League universities or highly competitive schools like UC Berkeley, the University of Michigan, MIT, Duke, and Vanderbilt, retaking the SAT could help your chances.
Still, students with a 1500 on the SAT have a chance of acceptance at even the most competitive schools—if your grades, extracurricular participation, essays, and letters of recommendation are also top-notch.
Before you retake the SAT, consider how much time you have to study for the test again. With that amount of time, do you think you can score higher than an almost perfect 1500? You should also consider your current schedule and workload. Studying for the SAT is difficult and draining. Is it something you can commit to right now?
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that the SAT is just one component of your application. Even if you do retake the SAT, don’t neglect the other parts of your application—all of them are important. With a 1500 on the SAT, you’re off to an incredible start!