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What Is the Average SAT Score?

Posted by Allen Cheng | Mar 30, 2017 1:00:00 PM

SAT General Info

 

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You're probably curious about how you stack up against average SAT scores. But what is an average SAT score? There are lots of different ways to look at average SAT scores. How many types of averages are there, and which averages are important for you?

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

So 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, by ethnicity, by family income, by high school type, and by state.

 

National SAT Average Score

For the new 2016 SAT, 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 national average SAT score was:

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

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

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

Therefore, if you score above a 1020 on the new SAT, you’re above the national average score on the SAT for all seniors. If you score above a 1080, you’re above the national average for college-bound seniors. Keep in mind that when applying to college, you'll be compared to other students who are also applying, meaning that second average (1083) is the more relevant one.

 

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Average SAT Scores by Gender

Interestingly, the College Board also calculated the average SAT score 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

 

As you can see, 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.

For reference purposes, I’ve also converted these averages (rounded to the nearest actual score option—so 493 would be rounded to 490) to new SAT scores (out of 1600) using official score conversion charts.

Gender

New Math

Evidence-Based R+W

New Total

Male

550

540

1090

Female

520

550

1070

 

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.

As with gender, reducing achievement gaps between ethnicities is a critical priority for educators.

I’ve again converted these averages into new 2016 SAT scores for your reference:

Ethnicity

New Math

Evidence-Based R+W

New Total

American Indian or Alaska Native

510

510

1020

Asian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander

620

590

1210

Black or African American

470

480

950

Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander

480

480

960

Hispanic, Latino, or Latin American

490

490

980

White

560

580

1140

Two or More Races, non-Hispanic

530

560

1090

Other

550

550

1100

No Response

530

500

1030

Total

540

550

1090

 

 

Average SAT Score by Family Income

The College Board also allows students to report their family income. Most don’t, but there’s a definite trend among those who do. These averages are also based on old scores (out of 2400).

Family Income

Number Taking

Reading

Math

Writing

Total

Less than $20,000

124,290

435

453

426

1314

$20,001-$40,000

158,909

465

477

452

1394

$40,001-$60,000

132,182

488

495

471

1454

$60,001-$80,000

115,998

503

509

485

1497

$80,001-$100,000

119,593

517

527

501

1545

$100,001-$140,000

146,434

530

539

513

1582

$140,001-$200,000

98,275

542

553

528

1623

More than $200,000

87,482

569

586

562

1717

No Response

659,426

482

501

473

1456

 

As you can see, there’s a strong trend with a higher average score on the SAT being associated with higher family income. This is a trend that’s been observed for some time. There are many reasons why those from higher-income families tend to score higher on the SAT—they are likely to attend better schools and have more resources to devote to preparation, to name a couple. This is another key equity issue facing educators. One of the stated reasons for the SAT redesign was to try to make test results less closely correlated with income, but it remains to be seen if the the College Board has been successful.  

Here are the average scores by income converted to the new SAT score scale for your reference:

Family Income

Math (New)

Evidence-Based R+W

New Total

Less than $20,000

490

480

970

$20,001-$40,000

510

510

1020

$40,001-$60,000

530

540

1070

$60,001-$80,000

540

550

1090

$80,001-$100,000

560

570

1130

$100,001-$140,000

570

580

1150

$140,001-$200,000

570

590

1160

More than $200,000

610

620

1230

No Response

530

560

1090

 

 

Average SAT Score by School Type

Average SAT scores also differ by school type. These averages come from the old 2400-point SAT.

School Type

Reading

Math

Writing

Total

Public

487

494

472

1453

Religiously Affiliated

532

537

525

1594

Other Private

530

579

536

1645

Unknown

491

580

498

1569

 

As you can see, students at non-religious private schools have the highest averages, then religious private schools, and then public schools. This is unsurprising because private school attendance is typically expensive—certainly more expensive than public school! So this is correlated with income, which we already saw made a big difference in average SAT scores.

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

See below for the converted average scores for your reference:

School Type

Math (New)

Evidence-Based R+W

New Total

Public

520

540

1060

Religiously Affiliated

560

590

1150

Other Private

560

590

1150

Unknown

520

550

1070

 

 

Average SAT Score by State

Below, I’ve given the average SAT scores by state. These scores are for the old test, but I also provided a converted total score for the new SAT out of 1600 in the rightmost column.

State

Total Number of Test-Takers

Reading

Math

Writing

Total

New 2016 SAT Converted Total

Alabama

2,354

557

551

543

1651

1190

Alaska

4,161

485

479

460

1424

1040

Arizona

18,621

528

532

505

1565

1140

Arkansas

1,075

570

569

553

1692

1215

California

241,589

491

500

485

1476

1080

Colorado

5,545

587

589

571

1747

1250

Connecticut

35,902

500

500

497

1497

1095

Delaware

9,772

458

453

440

1351

995

District of Columbia

4,790

433

433

419

1285

955

Florida

122,294

481

475

462

1418

1040

Georgia

65,473

493

490

476

1459

1070

Hawaii

7,553

491

511

476

1478

1080

Idaho

17,950

465

453

446

1364

1010

Illinois

4,819

605

622

592

1819

1300

Indiana

44,333

496

499

477

1472

1075

Iowa

878

602

611

572

1785

1280

Kansas

1,272

592

604

571

1767

1265

Kentucky

1,528

604

599

586

1789

1280

Louisiana

1,632

584

577

571

1732

1240

Maine

11,833

486

485

472

1443

1065

Maryland

47,449

490

490

476

1456

1070

Massachusetts

60,300

517

530

506

1553

1125

Michigan

3,565

594

608

581

1783

1270

Minnesota

2,207

607

620

588

1815

1300

Mississippi

707

595

584

585

1764

1260

Missouri

2,024

605

608

589

1802

1285

Montana

1,141

565

557

539

1661

1195

Nebraska

604

590

595

573

1758

1260

Nevada

7,646

511

509

488

1508

1100

New Hampshire

10,416

527

531

510

1568

1140

New Jersey

84,954

495

514

492

1501

1095

New Mexico

1,842

553

545

525

1623

1170

New York

148,727

489

501

477

1467

1075

North Carolina

54,663

502

508

475

1485

1090

North Dakota

123

585

594

560

1739

1245

Ohio

14,829

556

563

534

1653

1190

Oklahoma

1,503

582

573

553

1708

1230

Oregon

16,703

525

520

500

1545

1125

Pennsylvania

92,569

500

506

481

1487

1090

Rhode Island

7,908

490

491

480

1461

1070

South Carolina

22,324

494

493

471

1458

1070

South Dakota

194

586

581

558

1725

1240

Tennessee

3,841

586

582

571

1739

1245

Texas

196,028

466

478

449

1393

1020

Utah

1,292

579

579

558

1716

1235

Vermont

4,374

520

520

501

1541

1120

Virginia

57,861

520

517

498

1535

1120

Virgin islands

643

428

400

415

1243

920

Washington

43,783

501

506

481

1488

1090

West Virginia

2,077

525

511

502

1538

1120

Wisconsin

1,634

605

618

588

1811

1290

Wyoming

131

603

600

587

1790

1280

 

There’s lots of variation in average SAT scores by state. This is due to a lot of factors, but one big one is whether or not the state requires all public school students to take the SAT. In those cases, the scores tend to be lower because even students who might not typically take the SAT (or prepare for it) have to take it in school. By contrast, in states where the SAT is not required, students who take the SAT will be taking it specifically to prepare college applications. So the subsample of students who take the SAT will be, in general, more prepared and get higher scores.

For more info on this topic, check out our complete guide to average SAT scores by state.

 

What Average SAT Scores Really Matter for You?

While we've gone through a lot of interesting SAT data, most of it actually won’t be particularly relevant to your own interests and goals.

The truth is, what SAT score you need depends entirely on the schools that you're applying to. The averages that matter for you are the average SAT scores for colleges that you’re interested in. Let us help you figure out what makes a good SAT score for the schools you want to apply to!

 

 

What's Next?

Not sure if you need to take the SAT? Here are 10 reasons to consider taking the test.

Want to know the average SAT scores from past years? Or maybe you want help predicting your own SAT score? Or perhaps you're wondering if there's a minimum SAT score for college.

If you need help preparing for the SAT, check out our total guide to studying for the test. We also have a one-month cramming plan. And check out some tips for balancing test prep with school!

 

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We have the industry's leading SAT prep program. Built by Harvard grads and SAT full scorers, the program learns your strengths and weaknesses through advanced statistics, then customizes your prep program to you so you get the most effective prep possible.

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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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