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What Is the Average SAT Score?

Posted by Allen Cheng | Dec 4, 2016 1:00:00 PM

SAT General Info


feature_averageYou're probably curious about how you stack up against average SAT scores. But how many types of averages are there, and which averages are important for you? How about SAT score averages by gender and by ethnicity?

We'll discuss official results for all these questions and tell you which SAT average actually matters for your future.

What is the average SAT score? That really depends on which group of people you're looking at. We'll look at national averages, averages by gender, and averages by ethnicity.


National SAT Average Score

For the new 2016 ACT, the College Board calculated SAT score percentiles for two groups: all 11th and 12th grade students (Nationally Representative Sample Percentiles) and college-bound students who typically take the SAT for the last time as 11th- or 12th-graders (SAT User Percentiles). 

For the Nationally Representative Sample, the average SAT score was:

  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 510
  • Math: 510
  • Total: 1020

For college-bound SAT users, the national SAT score average was:

  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 543
  • Math: 541
  • Total: 1083

Therefore, if you score a 1100 or above, you're above the national average.

Keep in mind that when applying to college, you'll be compared to other students who are alos applying, meaning that second average (1083) is the more relevant one.

We've also compiled the SAT scores by state so you can compare yourself to other students who live around you. 


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Average SAT Scores by Gender

Interestingly, the College Board also calculated the SAT score average by gender. These averages are based on college-bound members of the Class of 2016 who took the old SAT, which had three sections and was scored out of 2400:

Gender Reading Math Writing Total
Male 495 524 475 1502
Female 493 494 487 1479


Males outperform females on math by 30 points, while females exceed males on Writing by 12 points.

According to a statistical significance test (t-test), the difference in math scores is considered extremely significant (in technical terms, the P value is less than 0.0001, meaning roughly that it is very unlikely this difference is due to chance).

The difference between genders in math test scores has been explored by academic researchers and has been a controversial topic. It should be a goal of the educational system to close this achievement gap between genders.


Average SAT Scores by Ethnicity

When registering for the SAT, the College Board allows students the option to specify their ethnicity. Most students do share their ethnicity, and the College Board has reported the average SAT scores across ethnicity. Again, these are scores on the old version of the test: 

Ethnicity Number Taking Reading Math Writing Total
American Indian or Alaska Native 7,778 468 471 447 1386
Asian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander 196,735 529 602 534 1665
Black or African American 199,306 430 425 415 1270
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander  2,371 432 438 423 1293
Hispanic, Latino, or Latin American 355,829 448 453 436 1337
White 742,436 528 533 511 1572
Two or More Races, non-Hispanic 28,460 511 505 488 1504
Other 20,604 496 518 491 1505
No Response 84,070 451 501 452 1404
Total 1,637,589 494 508 482 1484


The implications of these results have been discussed extensively. The black-white test score gap has been researched extensively to try to find root causes. In the other direction, Asians show the highest SAT score averages, which has led some to question whether colleges discriminate against Asians.

Educational achievement is an incredibly complex issue, with environmental, social, and economic factors all at play. Reducing achievement gaps between both gender and ethnicity is a priority for educators.


What Average SAT Scores Really Matter for You?

While we've gone through a lot of interesting SAT data, not all of it is relevant to you and your goals.

The truth is, what SAT score you need depends entirely on the schools that you're applying to. Here's one of our top guides to figuring out what averages YOU need to compare yourself to: What's a good SAT score for you? 


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Allen Cheng
About the Author

As co-founder and head of product design at PrepScholar, Allen has guided thousands of students to success in SAT/ACT prep and college admissions. He's committed to providing the highest quality resources to help you succeed. Allen graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude and earned two perfect scores on the SAT (1600 in 2004, and 2400 in 2014) and a perfect score on the ACT.

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