What's a Good SAT Literature Subject Test Score?

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What SAT Literature Subject Test score you need to get into a top college or to earn college credit will vary from school to school. The mean score in 2016 was a 599, significantly higher than the mean score on the general SAT reading section.

The table at the bottom of the page shows the correlation between Literature SAT scores and the percentile ranking of students who took the exam. For example, 61 percent of students scored a 660 or below on the exam. While no such tool exists for the Literature exam, you can use this free calculator from Cappex to learn your chances of getting into specific colleges based on your GPA and general SAT scores.

SAT Subject Test scores aren't comparable to general SAT scores because the subject tests tend to be taken by a higher percentage of high-achieving students than the SAT. Whereas a large number of colleges and universities require SAT or ACT scores, most elite and highly selective schools require SAT Subject Test scores. As a result, the average scores for SAT Subject Tests are significantly higher than those for the regular SAT. For the SAT Literature Subject Test, Compare, for example, the mean score of 599 on the Literature Subject Test with a mean score of about 500 for the regular SAT critical reading section. It's also worth noting that the mean score on the Literature subject test has been edging upward in recent years; it is over 30 points higher than it was just two years ago.

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.

For course credit and placement in Literature, the SAT Literature Subject Test is rarely used. Some colleges will use it to assess the college-readiness of home-schooled students, but for course placement, AP exams are used far more frequently.

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

Literature SAT Subject Test Scores and Percentiles

SAT Literature Subject
Test Score
800 99
780 96
760 93
740 88
720 81
700 75
680 68
660 61
640 54
620 49
600 42
580 38
560 33
540 29
520 25
500 23
480 19
460 16
440 14
420 10
400 7

In general, Advanced Placement exams are better than SAT subject tests in assessing an applicant's college readiness in an academic discipline. Nevertheless, both AP and SAT can play a positive role in your application process by demonstrating your mastery of a subject area. While an "A" in a high school literature class can mean something different at different high schools, a 750 on the literature SAT subject test convincingly shows that an applicant has mastered a range of ideas and concepts related to literary study.

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Your Citation
Grove, Allen. "What's a Good SAT Literature Subject Test Score?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, thoughtco.com/sat-literature-subject-test-score-788684. Grove, Allen. (2020, August 25). What's a Good SAT Literature Subject Test Score? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/sat-literature-subject-test-score-788684 Grove, Allen. "What's a Good SAT Literature Subject Test Score?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/sat-literature-subject-test-score-788684 (accessed March 30, 2023).