What's a Good Physics SAT Subject Test Score?

Learn What Physics Exam Score You Need for College Admission and College Credit

Man standing against chalkboard, solves physics equations, rear view, retro
Physics SAT scores. Dominik Pabis / Getty Images

Because most colleges that ask for SAT Subject Tests are highly selective, you will most likely want a score in the 700s if you're going to succeed in impressing the admissions officers. The exact score is going to depend on the school, so this article will provide a general overview of what defines a good Physics SAT Subject Test score and what some colleges say about the exam.

The table at the bottom of the page shows the correlation between Physics SAT scores and the percentile ranking of students who took the exam.

Thus, 68% of test takers scored a 740 or below on the Physics SAT Subject Test.

Subject Tests vs. the General SAT

The percentiles for SAT Subject Test scores can't be compared to general SAT scores because the subject tests are taken by an entirely different student population. In general, the subject tests are taken by a higher percentage of high-achieving students than the regular SAT. Primarily elite and highly selective schools require SAT Subject Test scores, whereas the majority of colleges and universities require SAT or ACT scores. As a result, the average scores for SAT Subject Tests are significantly higher than those for the regular SAT. For the Physics SAT Subject Test, the mean score is 667 (compared to a mean of about 500 for individual sections of the regular SAT). While no such tool exists for the Physics exam, you can use this free calculator from Cappex to learn your chances of being admitted based on your GPA and general SAT scores.

What Subject Test Scores Do Colleges Want?

Most colleges do not publicize their SAT Subject Test admissions data. However, for elite colleges, you will ideally have scores in the 700s. Here are what a few colleges say about the SAT Subject Tests:

As this limited data shows, a strong application will usually have SAT Subject Test scores in the 700s. Realize, however, that all elite schools have a holistic admissions process, and significant strengths in other areas can make up for a less-than-ideal test score. Your academic record will be more important than any test scores, especially if you do well in challenging college preparatory courses.

Your AP, IB, Dual Enrollment, and/or Honors courses will all play an important role in the admissions equation.

Very few colleges use the Physics SAT Subject Test to award course credit or to place students out of introductory level courses. A good score on the AP Physics exam, however, often will earn students college credit (especially the Physics-C exam).

Data source for the chart below: the College Board website.

Physics SAT Subject Test Scores and Percentiles

Physics SAT Subject Test ScorePercentile