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Average SAT Scores Over Time: 2016, 2015, 2014, and Earlier

Posted by Anna Aldric | Feb 28, 2017 10:00:00 PM

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SAT scores for the past few years have shown a marked decline, particularly since 2006, which is attributed to various causes. Below, we provide you with some charts where you can see the average SAT trends from 1972 as well as the variation in SAT scores by ethnicity.

 

Average SAT Scores for Past Years: 1972-2016

 

Below is a chart of SAT averages over the years, from 1972 to 2016, so you can see the trend overall.

Year

Critical Reading

Mathematics

Writing

 

Year

Critical Reading

Mathematics

Writing

1972

530

509

-

 

1995

504

506

-

1973

523

506

-

 

1996

505

508

-

1974

521

505

-

 

1997

505

511

-

1975

512

498

-

 

1998

505

512

-

1976

509

497

-

 

1999

505

511

-

1977

507

496

-

 

2000

505

514

-

1978

507

494

-

 

2001

506

514

-

1979

505

493

-

 

2002

504

516

-

1980

502

492

-

 

2003

507

519

-

1981

502

492

-

 

2004

508

518

-

1982

504

493

-

 

2005

508

520

-

1983

503

494

-

 

2006

503

518

497

1984

504

497

-

 

2007

501

514

493

1985

509

500

-

 

2008

500

514

493

1986

509

500

-

 

2009

499

514

492

1987

507

501

-

 

2010

500

515

491

1988

505

501

-

 

2011

497

514

489

1989

504

502

-

 

2012

496

514

488

1990

500

501

-

 

2013

496

514

488

1991

499

500

-

 

2014

497

513

487

1992

500

501

-

 

2015

495

511

484

1993

500

503

-

 

2016

494

508

482

1994

499

504

-

         

 

 

Here's historical test data for different ethnicities. The scores below are the combined mean scores for the Critical Reading and Math sections.

Demographic of Test Takers

2001 Scores

2008 Scores

2012 Scores

2013 Scores

2014 Scores

2015 Scores

American Indian or Alaskan Native

960

976

971

966

967

963

Asian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander

1067

1094

1113

1118

1121

 1123

Black or African American

859

856

856

860

860

859 

Mexican or Mexican American

909

917

913

913

911

905 

Puerto Rican

908

909

904

909

906

 905

Other Hispanic, Latino or Latin American

925

916

908

911

910

906 

White

1060

1065

1063

1061

1063

 1063

Other

1015

1008

1007

1011

1013

1009 

No Response

1007

963

946

956

933

926

 

 

SAT Score Trends: Discussing the Numbers

What the SAT charts above show us is that the scores vary greatly depending on how the College Board structures the test and organizes their scoring.

The years of study that a student engages in matter. The more years of secondary education that someone has completed, the better their average score on the SAT; higher GPA also correlates to higher SAT scores.

Generally, Critical Reading (now called Reading on the redesigned SAT) has taken an overall decline, while the Math score has risen slightly over time. There are of course small fluctuations throughout the years, but the overall trend is clear.

There are also notable gaps in performance of students from different socioeconomic and ethnic groups that show no signs of closing. ACT scores, unlike SAT scores, have remained relatively more stable over the past several years. Though they too have shown similar variations in numbers, it hasn’t been as bad as the SAT numbers. On the other hand, they do show differences based on the ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds of the test takers.

Due to the nature of the test or due to different demographic profiles among test takers, since 2006, overall average SAT scores have fallen a total of 34 points, down in each of the three categories tested. Since 2008, the average scores for white students have dropped by 2 points; similarly, most other groups witnessed steady decreases from 2008 to 2015. Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders experienced the biggest positive change of all groups during this time frame: a staggering 29-point increase.

Access to quality education, not ethnicity, may explain a significant portion of the racial gap. This can include variations based on whether the student completed a core curriculum or not and whether they had access to SAT Prep.

In 2014 once again, more students took the ACT than the SAT. Many students believe that the SAT doesn't accurately reflect what is taught in schools today. The decision to institute changes to the SAT in 2016 could have been due to this disparity between what is taught and what is tested; it could also have been due to the loss of market shares to the ACT.

Critics say the SAT measures a student's background and access to resources (including test prep) more than it predicts a student's likelihood of success at the college level. Actually, those two points may correlate because the students that receive this sort of help are also likely to receive the support they need in college from their families.

While it’s true there is a variation in scores with respect to race and income, it is still something that can be overcome by the student with dedication and practice.

 

What’s Next?

Struggling with a low SAT score? Check out our series of articles on the how to improve your score on SAT math, critical reading, and writing

Shooting higher? Check out our series on how to get a perfect score on the SAT math, critical reading, and writing, written by a perfect scorer. 

 

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We've written a guide about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Anna Aldric
About the Author

Anna graduated from MIT where she honed her research interests in Earth Science and Social/Political Science. She has years of tutoring experience, loves watching students learn and grow, and strongly believes that education is the cornerstone of our society. She is passionate about science, books, and non-profit work.



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