What Is A Good SAT Score For An Athlete?

At all levels of college athletics there are different requirements for student-athletes to be considered academically eligible. While a good SAT score is an important part of being considered eligible, academic requirements extend beyond SAT scores, as they factor in core course GPA.

There is no clear-cut number that prospective student-athletes should score on the SAT. You’ll need a score that qualifies you as academically eligible according to the NCAA and is high enough to earn admission into your future college. According to the NCAA sliding scales at the Division I level, a score of 690 on the SAT will place you relatively in the middle of the scale. It’s important to try and achieve higher than this to give yourself cushion when it comes to your cumulative core course GPA.

Included below is a more in-depth analysis of the specific requirements for academic eligibility at differing division levels, the various levels of academic eligibility, and some tips on what to do if you are deemed academically ineligible.

Requirements For Being Academically Eligible

The NCAA’s requirements for a student-athlete to be academically eligible vary at the different division levels.

NCAA Sliding Scales: The NCAA’s requirements for academic eligibility aren’t exactly straightforward, and extend far beyond simply a strong SAT score. That being said, the NCAA created what is known as the “full qualifier sliding scale,” which determines whether or not a prospective student-athlete meets the requirements for academic eligibility coming out of high school. The sliding scale is fairly comprehensive as it takes into account a student’s GPA in NCAA required core courses, SAT score, and ACT score. The NCAA’s sliding scales are designed to benefit the student, as if a student has a very high GPA, they have a bit of leeway in regards to test scores, and vice versa. The NCAA sliding scales have different requirements at the varying levels of collegiate athletics.

Division I: To be academically eligible at the Division I level, a few things need to happen. First and foremost, the NCAA requires all incoming student-athletes to have completed 16 core courses and have maintained at least a 2.3 cumulative GPA within those. Additionally, prospective student-athletes must refer to the NCAA Division I sliding scale to ensure that their SAT combined score or ACT sum score matches that of their core course GPA. This means a student with a lower GPA will need higher test scores to maintain eligibility. To further clarify, per the NCAA D1 sliding scale, a student with a 2.3 core course GPA must have a 980 SAT score, while a student with a 3.55 core course GPA must only score a 400 on the SAT.

Division II: The requirements to be academically eligible at the Division II level are a bit different, and a tad less strenuous. While prospective student-athletes are still required by the NCAA to complete 16 core courses, the minimum cumulative GPA they must maintain to be considered academically eligible is lower at 2.2. Additionally, per the NCAA D2 sliding scale, a student with a 2.2 core course GPA must score at least a 920 on the SAT, while students with a GPA of 3.3 and above may score a 400 on the SAT and be granted academic eligibility.

Division III: Division III athletics are much different than both D1 and D2 as the academic eligibility requirements are independent of any NCAA academic requirements, and are set by each school. Division III schools have their own admissions standards and academic requirements needed to be considered academically eligible.

While these numbers may seem daunting, as long as you commit adequate time to both academics and athletics, you will easily meet the NCAA’s academic eligibility requirements.

Levels Of Academic Eligibility

Depending on a prospective student-athletes core course GPA and test scores, they will be placed in one of three brackets of academic eligibility.

Full Qualifier: To be considered a “full qualifier,” prospective student-athletes must meet the requirements stated above. These requirements include a minimum 2.3 core course GPA for students at the Division I level and a 2.2 core course GPA at the Division II level. If a prospective student-athlete meets these GPA requirements and the requirements of the NCAA sliding scale, then he/she is granted full academic eligibility for their first year of enrollment in college. If a student-athlete is considered to be a “full qualifier” in regards to academic eligibility, then he/she has the ability to receive athletic scholarships, participate in practices, and compete for the program in his/her first year of enrollment.

Partial Qualifier: If a student is considered a “partial qualifier,” he/she will be required to take an academic redshirt. At the Division I level, a “partial qualifier” has a GPA between 2.0 and 2.3 in core courses, or a GPA between 2.0 and 2.2 at the Division II level. If you fall within this category, you will still be granted similar privileges to a full qualifier. For a partial qualifier’s first year of enrollment, he/she will still be granted athletic scholarships and be allowed to practice with the team, but they will not be able to compete in any athletic competition.

Non-Qualifier: If a student-athlete is a non-qualifier, they are considered academically ineligible. This title is given to prospective student-athletes who have a cumulative GPA below 2.0 in their required core courses. A non-qualifier will not be able to receive any athletic scholarships, and will not be able to participate in any team-related activities, including both practice and competition.

These different levels of academic eligibility are based entirely upon the NCAA’s sliding scales, and may fluctuate depending on a student’s test scores in relation to their GPA. Some prospective student-athletes may have relatively low GPA’s, but strong test scores. Pay close attention to the NCAA’s sliding scales to understand where you lie in terms of academic eligibility.

What If I Don’t Meet Academic Eligibility Requirements

Being deemed academically ineligible is not the end of the road. While as a prospective student-athlete you may not initially meet the academic requirements, there are plenty of options when it comes to gaining academic eligibility.

Retake The SAT: If you are considered academically ineligible by the NCAA’s sliding scales, one of the best things you can do is to retake the SAT. If you still have the opportunity to do this, you should. The SAT is a key component of the sliding scale, and raising your score may allow you to become academically eligible if you score high enough.

Get Help/Tutoring: In general, if you are struggling in any of your classes, it’s extremely important to reach out and ask for help. This could be in the form of asking more questions while in the classroom, or getting a tutor to help guide you through material that you may be struggling with. If you’re struggling in the classroom, seeking help is the best way to get back on track and get closer to becoming academically eligible. If you look for them, the resources to get you back on track are everywhere, so be sure to take advantage of them.

Stay Focused: Ultimately, staying focused is the most important thing when it comes to maintaining academic eligibility. Some prospective student-athletes are receiving offers as early as middle-school, prior to taking even a single one of their 16 NCAA required core courses. With this being said, it may be extremely tempting to slack off and put in limited effort, given that you have already been offered a scholarship. Make sure to stay focused and stay on track as maintaining good academic standing not only lessens the chance of having your offer revoked, but ensures you will have eligibility upon enrollment.

Don’t let being academically ineligible discourage you. Recognize your mistakes and make an effort to fix them, and before long you’ll be right where you had hoped to be.

Things To Keep In Mind

Eligibility Is More Than Test Scores: While making a strong score on the SAT or ACT is important, be sure to remember it’s much more than this. The NCAA sliding scale makes it so that there is a balance between core course GPA and test scores. Even if you score high on one of these tests, be sure to remember that maintaining a high GPA is just as important to being deemed academically eligible.

You’re A Student First: As evidenced by many of the points made above, it’s impossible to be a collegiate athlete if you completely disregard the academic side of things. Making good grades and scoring well on tests is what allows you to be on the court or field. Continue to work hard not only for your own personal benefit and education, but to ensure that you’re able to continue competing for your athletic program.

Don’t Worry Too Much About The #’s: While the NCAA’s sliding scales include an array of different numbers and specifications for academic eligibility, you shouldn’t read into them all that much. As long as you put effort into the classroom, these numbers should be an afterthought. Keep your head down and work hard, and you should have no problem with academic eligibility.

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