What's a Good Math SAT Subject Test Score?

Learn what math exam score you need for college admission and credit

Student writing on chalkboard in classroom
Math SAT scores. Alberto Guglielmi / Getty Images

Is your Math SAT Subject Test score good enough to get you into a top college or to earn college credit? This article will give a general overview of what defines a good Math SAT Subject Test score for both the Level 1 and Level 2 exams.

What Math Subject Test Score Do You Need?

The table below shows the correlation between Math SAT scores and the percentile ranking of students who took the Math 1 and the Math 2 exams.

Thus, 73% of test takers scored a 700 or below on the Math 1 exam, and 48% scored below 700 on the Math 2 exam.  

Math SAT Subject Test Scores and Percentiles

Math SAT Subject Test ScorePercentile (Math Level 1)Percentile (Math Level 2)

When you view these percentiles, it quickly becomes clear that SAT Subject Test scores can't be compared to general SAT scores. This is because 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 scores from the regular SAT or ACT. As a result, the average scores for SAT Subject Tests are significantly higher than those for the regular SAT. For the Math 1 SAT Subject Test, the mean score is 619, and for the Math 2 exam, the mean is 690 (compared to an average of about 500 for sections of the regular SAT).

What Scores Do Colleges Want to See?

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:

  • Middlebury College: "We are accustomed to seeing ... SAT IIs that range from the low to middle 700s" (from Middlebury admission FAQs)
  • Princeton University: the middle 50% of admitted applicants averaged scores between 710 and 790 on their three highest SAT II Subject Tests 
  • UCLA: about 75% of admitted students scored between 700 and 800 on their best SAT Subject Test; 19% scored between 600 and 690; for admitted students, the average score for the best SAT Subject Test was 732 (683 for the second best subject) (from the UCLA Profile of Admitted Freshmen)
  • Williams College: For the class of 2015, 39% of students scored between 750 and 800; 27% scored between 700 and 740; 13% scored between 650 and 690; 12% scored between 600 and 640; and 4% scored between 550 and 590 (from the Williams class of 2015 profile)

As this limited data shows, a strong application will usually have SAT Subject Test scores in the 700s. At the most selective colleges, even a 700 might be on the low end of the typical range, and you'll ideally have scores in the mid to high 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.

What Scores Do You Need for College Credit?

Note that colleges are more likely to award college credit for the AP Calculus AB exam or AP Calculus BC exam than for the SAT Math Subject Test. However, a few colleges will grant course credit for the SAT Math Subject Test, and many will use the exam as a math placement exam. For example:

    Check the websites of individual colleges to learn the policies. In general, however, don't count on getting college credit for an SAT Subject Test. Rather, view the test as a way to demonstrate your college readiness.

    Data source for the table : the College Board website.