What is an Average SAT Score And How Do SAT Scoring Percentiles Work?
After taking the SAT, you might think about how you fare against the average SAT test taker. Interestingly there are several different ways to calculate and categorize average SAT test scores. They include national averages, averages by ethnicity, gender, family income, and high school type.
Still, you need to understand the SAT test scoring, the types of SAT averages, and which are the most important scoring percentiles for your future college and career goals.
In this article, we will delve into the different SAT score averages by looking at the Math score, Evidence-Base Reading and Writing (ERW) score, and the total or composite score. These scores will be on your SAT score report measuring how you performed on the overall test as well as the Math and ERW sections.
Let’s jump in!
What is the Average SAT Score?
According to 2020 College Board Annual Report, the average SAT score is 1051 with scoring of 528 on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section and 523 on the Math section.
- Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score: 528
- Math score: 523
- Total score: 1051
What is National Average SAT Score?
According to the College Board, the national average SAT score for 2020 are ERW 528, Math 523, and Total 1051. Therefore, if you score more than 1060, then you will have scored above the national average score.
This means you will have scored more than most test-takers. On the other hand, a score of below 1050 means your score is below the national averages and lower than most test-takers.
Here is a chart that shows the national average SAT test scores for each section.
|SAT Test Sections||National Average SAT Test Scores|
|Evidence-Based Reading and Writing||528|
Average SAT Scores by State
Every state performs differently on the SAT test primarily because they prioritize it differently. Some states requires all high school students to take the test resulting in a much higher participation rate but typically a lower overall average.
The states that encourage their students to take the test but don’t require it typically have higher averages because less students are being tested.
Here is the chart of average SAT scores by state in the US as reported by the College Board.
|State||SAT Test Participation Rate||Evidence-Based Reading and Writing SAT Scores||Math SAT Scores||Total Average SAT Scores|
|District of Columbia||1||498||482||979|
Which State has the highest average SAT Score?
Like we said in the previous section, the states will lower participation rates tend to have the highest averages. Minnesota is no exception. With a participation rate of 4%, Minnesota has the highest average SAT score out of any state with a score of 1257. This is a staggering 206 points above the national average score.
Wisconsin and Kansas come in a close second and third with average test scores of 1243 and 1237, respectively.
Which States have the Highest SAT Participation Rates?
Although higher participation rates tend to correlate with lower overall averages, higher participations rates are a good thing. It shows that the states are committed to education and want to see how every student learns, instead of only testing the most educated or motivated.
That being said, there are eight states that require the SAT test for every students. Here are the states with SAT participation rates of 100%:
- District of Columbia
Which State has the Lowest Average SAT Score?
West Virginia has the lowest average SAT score out of any state with a score of 936. This is somewhat understandable since West Virginia’s participation rate is 98%.
The second lowest scoring state does not follow this same statistical pattern. Oklahoma students only scored 971 even though the participation rate was only 20%. This shows that average scores and participation rates are correlated, but there are outliers.
Average SAT Test Score by College, University, & School
Most colleges in the US use SAT scores as a tool to measure of students’ knowledge and education for admission. Universities typically set a minimum test score that new students and applicants must obtain in order to be admitted into the college.
These minimum test score requirements different drastically between colleges and states, but it is interesting to look at the average SAT test scores for different schools.
Top 25 Ranked Colleges with the Highest Average SAT Scores
Here is a chart of the Top 25 colleges and universities in the US with the highest average SAT scores.
|Ranking||College / University||25th Percentile SAT Test Score||75th Percentile SAT Test Score||Total Average SAT Score|
|7||University of Chicago||1500||1570||1530|
|24||University of Michigan||1340||1530||1430|
75 Most Popular Universities’ SAT Average Scores
Here is a chart of 75 of the most popular and well respected colleges, schools, and universities in the US along with their average SAT test scores.
|College / University||25th Percentile SAT Score||75th Percentile SAT Score||Total Average SAT Score|
|Binghamton University (SUNY Binghamton)||1310||1440||1375|
|Brigham Young University (BYU)||1220||1410||1315|
|California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly)||1240||1430||1335|
|Claremont McKenna College||1420||1560||1490|
|College of William and Mary||1230||1510||1415|
|George Washington University (GWU)||1280||1460||1370|
|Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)||1390||1540||1465|
|Harvey Mudd College||1490||1560||1530|
|Indiana University Bloomington||1280||1460||1370|
|Loyola Marymount University||1210||1390||1296|
|Michigan State University (MSU)||1120||1310||1210|
|New York University (NYU)||1370||1510||1440|
|Ohio State University (OSU)||1300||1420||1355|
|Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)||1160||1370||1265|
|Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)||1330||1500||1409|
|Stony Brook University—SUNY||1250||1420||1335|
|Texas A&M University||1180||1390||1275|
|Texas Christian University (TCU)||1150||1340||1250|
|UC San Diego (UCSD)||1250||1470||1360|
|UC Santa Barbara (UCSB)||1230||1480||1355|
|UC Santa Cruz||1170||1400||1285|
|United States Military Academy (West Point)||1185||1400||1300|
|United States Naval Academy||1250||1450||1410|
|University of Alabama||1060||1280||1184|
|University of Arizona||1120||1350||1235|
|University of Cincinnati||1160||1370||1265|
|University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder)||1160||1350||1253|
|University of Connecticut (UConn)||1210||1420||1315|
|University of Florida||1280||1440||1360|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)||1340||1500||1420|
|University of Iowa||1140||1330||1235|
|University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass)||1210||1370||1290|
|University of Miami||1280||1420||1355|
|University of Minnesota, Twin Cities||1270||1440||1351|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)||1300||1470||1395|
|University of Pittsburgh||1260||1440||1350|
|University of Rochester||1340||1500||1420|
|University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin)||1240||1470||1355|
|University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas)||1250||1450||1350|
|University of Vermont||1200||1360||1270|
|University of Virginia (UVA)||1340||1500||1430|
|University of Washington||1220||1460||1340|
|University of Wisconsin—Madison||1300||1480||1390|
|Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)||1180||1390||1285|
|Wake Forest University||1310||1470||1390|
What College or University has the highest average SAT test score?
Many schools maintain incredibly high SAT scores, but the two colleges tied with the highest total SAT score of 1540 are MIT and Caltech.
Although not as high as these two colleges, there are many different private and public schools that achieve high scores as well. For example, the average SAT score for Harvard is 1510. Likewise, the average SAT score for UCLA and Stanford are 1400 and 1500, respectively.
SAT Average Score by Gender
Also, the College Board has calculated the average score by gender, and averages are based on the 2019 SAT class. The Math and ERW sections are scored out of 800, and the total score will be 1600.
|Gender||Math SAT Score||Evidence-Based Reading and Writing SAT Score||Total Average SAT Scores|
From the averages, it is evident that males outperform females by 15 points on Math, but the females outperform males by 9 points in ERW.
Average SAT Test Score by Ethnicity and Race
The College Board offers the alternative of specifying ethnicity, and most test takers do provide their ethnicity. The SAT average scores by ethnicity are as shown:
|Ethnicity / Race||Evidence-Based Reading and Writing SAT Scores||Math SAT Scores||Total Average SAT Scores|
|American Indian / Alaska Native||456||447||902|
|Black / African American||473||454||927|
|Hispanic / Latino||491||478||969|
|Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander||478||470||948|
|Two or more races||552||539||1091|
Average SAT Test Score by Waiver
The SAT has been having issues with test-takers from low-income households as they tend to score lower than the average for students from a high-income family.
Despite the College Board not including data on family income, they provide information in scores for students who have used or not used a fee waiver.
|SAT Fee Waiver||Evidence-Based Reading and Writing SAT Scores||Math SAT Scores||Total Average SAT Scores|
How is the SAT Test Scored?
The SAT exam is scored out of 1600, and for the two sections Math and ERW, you get a scaled score of 200-800. You determine the scaled score by converting the raw score, representing points for each question you score correctly.
Interestingly, there is no penalty for skipped questions or those that you get wrong. The raw scores are scaled through equating, which is a process that ensures test forms or a student’s ability level with who whom they are tested do not affect the score. Equating makes it easier to compare students that take different test editions across various administrations.
You can use cross-sectional scores and subscores to evaluate your performance. The total score will be the sum of the section scores, so the maximum SAT score is 1600, and the average score is around 1000.
Section scores are the scores for the two SAT sections scored out of 800 each, which will be combined to give the total score. SAT subscores will show how you performed various skills to provide a picture of your weaknesses and strengths.
Is the SAT Test Graded on a Curve?
According to the College Board, they do not grade the SAT exam on a curve. This implies test-takers will not be evaluated according to how well they performed relative to other test takers that took the exam the same day. Usually, students will take different editions of the SAT, making performance comparison difficult.
Usually, when grading is done on a curve, the score will go up or down depending on the group’s performance. Grading by curves is disadvantageous to students because it limits how many students will get a top score.
The Board uses equating to grade the test because some tests could be easier than others. Equating will mean that scores will be comparable, and a 600 score in Math on a particular test date will be the same as a 600 on another test date.
Why are SAT Score Average Percentiles Important?
Besides, the composite score SAT also ranks the performance in percentile ranks from 1-99. You will receive a percentile rank for the overall composite score and the section scores for ERW and Math. The percentile will tell the student how they performed relative to other test-takers.
For instance, a 78 composite percentile means that your score is higher than 78% of the test takers. If you fall in the 45 percentile in ERW, it means that you performed better than 45% of ERW test takers.
Percentiles are vital in comparing student scores for college admission, and most institutions have their score ranges, but they don’t change that much yearly. SAT percentiles are crucial when deciding whether you will retake the test, as they help put your score in context.
For instance, a 700 in Maths and 600 in ERW might seem not to be huge, but the Math score might be on the 94th percentile and the ERW in the 75th percentile. This will help you know that you should concentrate more on ERW when your retake because a 100 points increase in the ERW score could boost your percentile up to the 92nd percentile.