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Key points:

  • The SAT consists of three scores, each are scored on a scale of 200-800
  • The average SAT score is 1500 (514 in math and 489 in critical reading
  • Students are penalized for guessing (a wrong answer has a greater negative impact than no answer at all)
  • An ideal score for a competitive college is 2100 or higher (this would place you in the 90th percentile)
  • Nearly 1-million students take the exam annually; of these students, only about 20 students achieve a perfect score
  • According to one article, the "College Board calculated that scoring 1550 or above on all three sections of the test indicate a 65% likelihood of attaining at least a B-average in the freshman year of college" (Star Tribune15 Sept. 2011).

View Calendar to see upcoming test dates


Key points:

  • The ACT consists of four scores: English Language, Reading, Mathematics, and Science
  • Each section on the test is scored on a scale of 1 to 36 - all four scores are averaged to generate a "composite score," which ranges between approximately 20-21 (used by most colleges)
  • The writing section is cored on a 12-point scale; the average score is 7-8
  • Students are not penalized for guessing (all responses are weighted equally
  • A composite score of 34-36 is among the top 1% of test-takers in the U.S.
  • Not all colleges use the writing portion of the test (Cal State Universities do not)

A Look at SAT and ACT Scores & College Admittance

Top Schools in the U.S.

Duke - 2000-2300 SAT / 30-34 ACT

Harvard - 2070-2350 SAT / 31-34 ACT

Stanford - 2010-2300 SAT / 31-34 ACT

UCLA - 1730-2100 SAT / 24-31 ACT

Local Schools

The lower number is for the 25th percentile of students who enrolled in (not just applied to) the college. The upper number is for the 75th percentile of students who enrolled in the college.

  • Cal Poly Pomona - SAT 450/560CR & 480-620M or ACT 20/26
  • Cal State Fullerton- SAT 440/540CR & 450/570M or ACT 18/23
  • Cal State San Bernadino- SAT 400/500CR & 400/500M or ACT 16/21
  • UCI- SAT 510/620CR, 560/670M & 520/640W or ACT 23/28
  • Arizona State University- SAT 470/590CR & 480/620M or ACT 20/26
  • Cal Baptist- SAT Average 508CR, 503M & 497W or ACT 21


High School SAT & ACT Averages (2010-11)

  • Centennial - SAT-489CR/515M/477W(1,481)or ACT-20.78
  • Corona - SAT-484CR/502M/471W(1,457)or ACT-20.53
  • ERHS - SAT-465CR/481M/482W(1,408)or ACT-20.03
  • Norco - SAT-498CR/509M/482W(1,489)or ACT-20.29
  • Santiago - SAT-496CR/506M/496W(1,498)or ACT-21.06

Important things to know:

Colleges will accept ACT or SAT scores. Shannon Trippy runs SAT testing at Norco High (through College Board) but students can sign up to take tests anywhere. Many of our students take the ACT at Santiago. Tests should be taken during 11th grade so students can re-test if needed before they submit college applications.

SAT vs. ACT Comparison Chart
  • The SAT and ACT are two very different college entrance exams. Both are nationally administered and are used to help colleges evaluate applicants. The SAT is essentially a three-part aptitude test (Reading, Math, Writing) while the ACT is more of an achievement test with four core sections (English, Math, Reading, Science) and an optional Writing section. Many colleges will accept either test or both exams. Some colleges require one (typically the SAT). The chart below will help you understand the structure and content of the SAT and ACT. (View infographic with SAT and ACT comparison)




3 hours, 45 minutes

3 hours, 25 minutes (includes optional 30-minute Writing Test)


10 Sections: 3 Critical Reading, 3 Math, 3 Writing (including Essay), 1 Experimental (not scored)

4 Sections (plus optional Writing Test): English, Math, Reading, Science, Writing


Critical Reading







Writing (optional)


Reading passages with questions pertaining to comprehension and sentence completion

4 passages, 10 questions per passage



Science (analysis, knowledge, problem solving)


Arithmetic, geometry, algebra, and algebra II

Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry



Optional (final section)

Score Composition

1/3 Math

1/3 Reading

1/3 Writing

¼ English

¼ Math

¼ Reading

¼ Science


Aggregate score 600 - 2400 based on total of 3 scores 200- 800 (Reading, Math, Writing)

Score of 0-12 for Essay

Composite score 1-36 based on average of 4 sections (English Math, Reading Science)

Score 0-12 for Optional Essay.


Penalties (typically ¼ point deducted) for wrong answers

No penalties for incorrect answers

Sending Scores to Colleges

Currently entire score history is sent. Starting with the March 2009 test date, students can select (“opt-in feature”) which will allow them to choose specific test date(s) - 3/09 and forward - and all scores from the selected test date(s) will be sent.

Student decides which scores are sent

Additional Information

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