In short, 690 and above places a student around the median of all athletes’ scores.
It depends on GPA in required core courses and SAT/ACT scores in mid-short.
Long-story terms, many variables, and criteria need to be considered when deciding what a good SAT score is for an athlete. Many would say just score the highest you can, but that may not always be the best avenue to traverse with the stress of studying atop all the other duties and responsibilities the scholar-athlete pursues. Others would say that the test does not really matter since the NCAA looks more at GPA anyway, and, though that last statement does not paint the whole picture, it indeed bears some merit.
A good SAT score depends on the student-athlete and their current academic achievements. The NCAA has implemented a dynamic and comprehensive sliding scale that considers many criteria such as GPA in NCAA required core courses and SAT/ACT test scores.
The sliding scale was created to be beneficial to the student-athlete. If an athlete has a high GPA in NCAA required courses, they are allowed some cushion on their SAT/ACT test scores. However, in an indirect relationship, if an athlete has a low GPA, then that athlete will need to have a higher test score—more detail on this by division level below.
A student can look at each side as a positive such as perhaps the athlete does not test well but commands a respectable GPA. Or, another athlete could test well but struggle to maintain the top-tier GPA. Either way, the sliding scale accommodates for this to give the student the most opportunity to become eligible.
Deemed Academically Eligible
Student-athletes are not merely chasing a scholarship or high score on the SAT/ACT. Rather, they are working towards being deemed academically eligible from the NCAA which each Division has their own standards. Only being deemed academically eligible will allow the student to be offered scholarships and to participate in their sport at the collegiate level.
To be deemed academically eligible at the Division I level, the NCAA requires students to have completed at least 16 core courses while having maintained at least a 2.3 GPA in those classes. Then, the student-athletes must have an SAT/ACT score within their core-course GPA. A student with a 2.3 GPA must have at least a 980 SAT, whereas a student with a 3.55 GPA only needs a score of at least 400 SAT.
Similar to Division I, the NCAA requires at least 16 core courses completed with at least a 2.2 GPA. If a student maintains a 2.2 GPA, they must score at least a 920 SAT whereas a student with at least a 3.3 GPA only needs at least a 400 SAT.
In contrast to Divisions I and II, Division III schools are independent from NCAA requirements. Each school sets their own standards. If a student is looking to attend a Division III level university, they will need to contact the school for their requirements.
A student will be placed into either Full, Partial, or Non-Qualifier status based upon eligibility.
Suppose a student fulfills the requirements mentioned above. In that case, they are granted full academic eligibility to receive scholarships, practice with the team, and compete in their first year.
Suppose a student only fulfills part of the requirements, such as a 2.0 and 2.3 GPA for Division I or a 2.0 and 2.2 GPA for Division II. In that case, they are granted partial academic eligibility and must take an academic redshirt year. The student is still granted scholarships and can practice with the team but is prohibited from competing in any competition.
Any student with below a 2.0 GPA in the NCAA required core courses are placed into the non-qualifier status and considered academically ineligible. This status means a student will not receive any athletic scholarships nor participate with the team in practices or competitions.
Deemed Academically Ineligible
What to do
If a student is deemed academically ineligible, they have some options to reverse this decision. A student can and should retake the SAT/ACT for a higher score to help mitigate the need for a higher GPA. A student should reach out for help from tutors and teachers when struggling. A student should maintain a level of focus as the offers can be revoked as soon as they came. If a student lacks in any area, the university can deem them unfit for their standards.
Also, a student should remember that they are a student and person. They are more than numbers and need to realize that education is just as important as athleticism. As long as the athlete focuses on the books, the eligibility requirements will domino effect.
Thus, a good SAT score can be as simple as at least a 690 to as complicated as a minimum of 400 to 980.