How bad is a 1090 on the SAT, considering it’s my first attempt?

Matt Larriva
Aug 01, 2022
Home » How bad is a 1090 on the SAT, considering it’s my first attempt?

After taking your first standardized tests as a prospective college student, you may wonder if a 1090 SAT score is acceptable for admission. 

Whether 1090 is a bad score or not is a bit too subjective since colleges have differing SAT requirements. Otherwise, it means you’re in the 65th percentile and is considered not bad at all.

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Different schools have different standards when it comes to SAT scores

If your goal is to be admitted to a testing-optional school, getting 1090 on the SATs is average among the Nationally Representative Sample — defined as all students in their junior and senior high school years.

However, students looking to enroll at an Ivy League school should aim to score at least the 25th percentile, but preferably at the 50th percentile or between 1440 and 1570.

Ivy league universities are known for their highly competitive acceptance rates.

For instance…

Several universities, including Harvard and Yale, have dropped their SAT requirements as colleges and universities reopen post-pandemic.

However, submitting high test scores anyway certainly looks good on your application.

The key benefit for students in taking the SAT or ACT is that submitting strong scores improves admissions chances.

You Should Know: Test-Optional doesn’t always mean optional, here’s why:

I have covered this to a great extent and I encourage you to read through some of my research into the test-optional method.

For now, consider this food for thought:

Is test-optional really test-optional? What’s the catch?

We are all familiar with the difference between “optional” (it makes no difference whether you do or don’t) and “optional” (technically you can choose this, but you probably shouldn’t).

You have the option to read Stephen King’s latest release (it’s quite good), and the option to serve as your own attorney (and have a fool as a client).

Similarly, since test-optional schools don’t require SAT and ACT scores, some students have the option to not submit test scores, while other students have the option to not submit test scores.

So, who was this testing optional policy intended for, and in which camp do you fall? Find our here ➡ Does “Test Optional” Mean Optional for Me?

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The average student who studies for 8 hours will gain 90 points on the SAT. Power Play students gain 200 points in the same amount of time.

student studying online for sat with powerplay

Comparing the SAT to the ACT

We often get asked by students and parents what their SAT score would translate to in terms of an ACT score.

We’ve included a concordance chart with SAT to ACT score comparisons below. But first, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out a few essential details regarding the ACT vs SAT.

1090 SAT Score to ACT Score Comparison (Concordance Table)

Now, to get to the main question:

A 1090 SAT score roughly equates to an ACT score of 21.

However, it’s important to note that colleges base this comparison on “concordance” tables, which do not accurately indicate how well a student will perform on either assessment

Instead, concordance tables help compare standardized test scores to implement policies and decisions in higher education.

For students, their families, and college counselors, concordance tables might be utilized during school exploration, to measure college readiness and help determine eligibility for a program or scholarship.


Is Standardized Testing No Longer a Determining Factor for Admission?

It’s noteworthy that SATs are not the only determining factor for college admissions. Even before COVID-19, hundreds of colleges dropped their testing requirements and opted for “test-optional” applications, in which students could choose to submit standardized test scores for additional consideration.

Many criticize standardized tests as a poor representation of academic potential, particularly for first-generation students, non-native English speakers, and those coming from financial hardships.

For these individuals, the option to forego submitting test scores may work to their advantage in earning acceptance into college.

On the other hand, students from wealthier districts who’ve benefited from greater academic opportunities are still encouraged to disclose their test scores with their application.

Colleges may weigh their admissions decisions differently and use test scores to determine these students’ competition.

I recommend reading our article, Do I Need to Take the SAT/ACT? to determine whether or not you need to be preparing for an ACT or SAT test. We’ve added an infographic with a flowchart that will help students know if they need to test based on their unique circumstances—it’s a must-read!

Applying to a test-blind school?

Of course, determining if 1090 is a good SAT score also depends on whether or not you’re applying to a test-blind school such as a school in the University of California (UC) system.

Unlike test-optional schools that might consider your SAT or ACT scores if you choose to submit them, test-blind colleges never factor test scores into their decision, regardless of whether you send them with your application.

Check the college or university’s website to find out if it requires you to submit test scores with your application. If so, look at the acceptance rates and the most common percentiles their applicants fall under.

You may want to retake the exam if a 1090 SAT score is well below the threshold.

1090 on the SATs Is Average but Not Bad

The lowest score you can get on the SATs is a 400, so 1090 on your first attempt isn’t bad at all.

Of course, your list of top schools will have their own standards for what is sufficient scoring on standardized tests.

The same can be said about scholarships, many of which have eligibility requirements for minimum SAT scores. The higher your SAT score, the more scholarships you’ll qualify for to receive a financial award.

However, if you’re applying to colleges with test-optional or test-blind admissions, the choice to aim for higher results is up to you.

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