Average SAT Score
SAT tests are generally scored from 400 to 1600 where 1600 makes a perfect score. It has two sections, namely, Evidence-based Reading and Writing each of which is marked within the range of 200 to 800. A score report will contain a lot of information and numbers that have to be figured out in order to understand the report. It usually contains mean scores, percentiles and even benchmarks with sub scores and cross-test scores all of which enables a college/ university to judge your readiness for higher studies. But it should be understood that this figuring out is necessary also because there is no one particular passing score and hence averages with regard to state, top universities, public schools etc matter in determining your scope for admission.
The average SAT score is determined by adding individual scores of students who attempted the test and then dividing it with the number of examinees who took the test. On a National Level, in 2020, this average was 1051. And according to specific sections, it was 528 for the Evidence-based Reading section and 523 for the Maths section. As is evident, the averages of specific sections are nearly the same and that emphasises on the similarities in difficult levels between sections and the level in which marks can be obtained.
While considering National SAT score averages, tracing it back for at least 3 years gives an idea of how the average varies and how this can reflect into the next test as well. In 2019, the average score was 1059 with a 531 for ERW and 528 for Math. As for the year 2018, the National average was 1068 with 536 for ERW and 531 for Maths. The graph then shows a steady decline in the national averages which can be due to an increase in the difficulty level of the test or a decrease in the number of people who are taking the test.
SAT Score Percentiles
When National SAT score averages provide a distinct idea of how the grades have been declining, it generally leaves you to speculate the reasons behind the same. This is where one should understand the importance of National percentiles. Percentiles are calculated to give you an idea of where you stand in relation to all the test takers who attempted alongside you. It ranges from 1 to 99 and as is obvious, a higher percentile implies a better performance in the test.
The two percentiles that are available in the score report are nationally representative sample percentile
and SAT user percentile
. Here, the sample percentile
reflects the percentile that you would have received if all high school graduating students had taken the test. Considering that a lot of students do not attempt the test, the College Board estimates their percentile and then provides you with the sample percentile. On the other hand, the user percentile
reflects on the actual position you are in after comparing you to the test takers .
If you received a 65 as your user percentile, it means that you have scored better than 65% of the people who attempted the test. Thus comparing percentiles and prior knowledge about percentiles of students accepted into universities of choice will be helpful in estimating your target score.< br>
Average SAT Score by State
Average SAT scores are calculated according to States and are generally awarded State SAT Awards
. These awards are based on certain categories like Highest SAT Score, Team Players with 100 Participation, Highest SAT Score with over 20% Participation, Lowest SAT Score and Most Variation Between SAT Sections.
In the year 2020, the highest score was recorded in Minnesota with a SAT score of 1257. Since the National average is 1051, this score is 206 points higher. But the factors that have to be considered is that the participation rate for the exam is extremely low in this State and so only the very ambitious students who have been preparing for SAT probably for years attempt the test. This creates a significant increase in the average they achieve.
The State that got the award for having the highest score with around 29% participation in the year 2020 is Arizona. The average SAT score here is 1139 which is again considerably higher than the national average. The States like Colorado, Delaware, DC, Florida, Rhode Island etc, on the other hand, have a 100% participation rate which mostly implies that the high schools in these places have made SAT mandatory. Among these places only Florida had a 100% participation rate without the test being mandatory.
The lowest score amongst all the states was received by West Virginia which was 936. Since taking SAT is mandatory here, the fairest conclusion will be that students who do not wish to pursue their education are also forced to take the test without purpose thereby causing a decline in the overall average calculated.
The State that showed the highest variation between sections was Florida where students on an average got 479 in Maths and a 512 for the Evidence-based Reading and Writing. Considering the participation level in Florida this discrepancy stands out more than most other States.
Average SAT Score in Top Universities
National averages and State averages are good enough facts to learn about but having prior knowledge about them does not really increase one's chances of entering into their desired college. Here, what will be necessary is the skill to identify a target score for preparing for the exam. This target score should be based on the 25th and 75th percentiles of the colleges you are aiming to apply for. We have provided a table below containing information regarding the percentiles of various top universities. The general information that we have accumulated here can be used to create a target score which can be aimed for during test preparation.
|University/College||Reading / Writing |
|Reading / Writing |
|California Institute of Technology||750||800||780||800|
|University of Chicago||745||770||775||800|
|Johns Hopkins University||735||760||770||800|
|Washington University in St Louis||740||770||780||800|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||730||780||790||800|
|Carnegie Mellon University||700||750||750||800|
|Columbia University in the City of New York||710||760||740||800|
|University of Pennsylvania||690||760||730||790|
|Claremont McKenna College||660||740||680||770|
|University of Southern California||660||740||690||790|
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||660||730||670||780|
|University of California-Los Angeles||620||710||600||740|
|United States Military Academy||585||690||600||710|
|United States Air Force Academy||600||690||610||700|
It should be understood while perusing the table that the 75th percentile denotes the score that made those students outperform 75% of the students who took the test. Ideally, one should aim for a score higher than the 75th percentile and otherwise one should aim for a score near the same in order to be able to get admission in that particular college/ university.
But this doesn't mean that a high SAT score is sufficient to procure a college seat. Perfect SAT scores have still been rejected by universities if the other parts of the application appears weak. In other words, even if your SAT score is below average, with great letters of recommendation and an exemplary college application, you will be able to get the seat that you desire.
SAT Scores-General Information
Reading the score report may require an extra interest and learning. The report will have red/yellow/green symbols next to the section scores. This shows your readiness for going to college/ university after you graduate. And obviously, only the green symbol conveys that you are ready for college. The yellow depicts the idea that more work has to be put in whereas the red conveys the message that you are not quite ready for stepping into higher education as of now. Do NOT take the report as a fact since it is not an IQ test but only reflects the amount of information you have retained from school.
There will be a score range in the report portraying how your score can vary upon retaking the test at multiple periods in time. Colleges, therefore, look at the score range instead of the exact score to understand your skills better than relying on a one time test score entirely.
The score that you will mostly receive before graduation will be a clear indicator of skills that can be improved and skills that you already excel in. Taking the test earlier helps you and your teacher understand your weak points and work on them to eventually take a retest or to balance your profile with other aspects.