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Average SAT Scores by State (Most Recent)

Posted by Allen Cheng | Oct 2, 2020 12:00:00 PM

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More than a million students across the country take the SAT each year. So what do SAT scores by state look like? How do you stack up against other test takers in your state? Finally, what are some interesting state facts—for example, which state has the highest SAT score? The lowest SAT score? The highest rate of participation?

It's the battle of the states, SAT edition. Find out your state's average SAT scores and other fun facts in this article!

 

What Is the National Average SAT Score?

Before we get into the SAT averages by state, let's quickly go over the SAT scoring system as well as what the overall average SAT score in the US currently is.

As you probably know, the SAT is made up of three sections: Reading, Writing and Language (also just called Writing), and Math. The Math section is scored on a scale of 200-800, while the Reading and Writing sections are combined to give you a final Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) score on a scale of 200-800.

By combining these two sections, we get a total SAT score range of 400-1600, with 1600 being a perfect score.

Now that we've got this down, let's take a look the national average SAT score. In 2020, the College Board reported the following average SAT scores:

  • Total: 1051
  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW): 528
  • Math: 523

As you can see, the average scores for EBRW and Math are quite close. These then add up to get a total SAT average score that's around the halfway point of the total score range (400-1600).

But what are the average SAT scores by state? Keep reading to learn some interesting trends and to see the notable top spots held by different states!

 

State SAT Awards

We'll start with the states that have won our "State SAT Awards." The categories for these are as follows:

  • Highest SAT Score
  • Highest SAT Score With Over 20% Participation
  • Team Players (100% Participation)
  • Lowest SAT Score
  • Most Variation Between SAT Sections

All data below comes from the College Board's 2020 SAT state reports.

 

Highest Score: Minnesota (SAT Score: 1257)

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Minnesota takes the cake for highest average SAT score with 1257. This is 206 points higher than the national average!

But wait—Minnesota also has lower test participation than 75% of the US at 4%. In other words, just 2,601 seniors who graduated in 2020 took the SAT.

Because more students in Minnesota take the ACT than they do the SAT, Minnesota's high average SAT score likely means that only the most prepared, ambitious high schoolers take the SAT. These students tend to score higher, effectively raising the state's average.

But what if we look instead at states with a significant participation rate—that is, a state in which more than 20% of students take the SAT? The winner for that SAT award is ...

 

Highest Score With Over 20% Participation: Arizona (SAT Score: 1139, with 29% Participation)

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Great achievement here! With more than 19,500 students in the class of 2020 taking the SAT here, Arizona is truly outperforming the national average.

 

Team Players (100% Participation): Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, and Rhode Island

In Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, and Rhode Island, every student took the SAT. This usually means that these states require all high school students to take the SAT as part of normal high school testing.

Four other states—Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire, and West Virginia—offered the SAT statewide during the 2019-2020 school year. But either because the College Board didn't have an accurate count of the number of seniors in those states or because the test wasn't mandatory for all students in these states for the entire school year, participation rates here are below 100%.

The highest participation rate for non-mandatory testing goes to Florida, at 100%.

 

Lowest Score: West Virginia (SAT Score: 936)

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Unfortunately, West Virginia underperforms the national average by more than 100 points. Also ranking at the bottom are other states with statewide SAT testing (Delaware and District of Columbia) as well as Oklahoma and the US Virgin Islands. From the data, it's reasonable to conclude that statewide testing causes lower scores because it includes all seniors and not just those planning to apply to college.

The lowest SAT score for a non-mandatory state is 971 in Oklahoma. This is unusual for a state where 20% of graduating seniors take the SAT. For comparison, Nevada (17% participation), Ohio (21% participation), and New Mexico (19% participation) all have average SAT scores of 1050 or above.

The most likely reason for this low score is the change in number and percent of students taking the SAT in Oklahoma in 2019 and 2020, compared to previous years.

Only 8% of Oklahoma students in the class of 2018 (3,337 students) took the SAT, with an overall average SAT score of 1062. Compare this to the 22% of the class of 2019 (9,272 students) and the 20% of the class of 2020 (8,471); nearly two-and-a-half times as many graduating Oklahoma seniors in 2020 and 2019 took the SAT as in 2018.

There are a couple of other states which saw substantial changes in the percentage of students taking the SAT between 2017-2018 and 2018-2019, most notably West Virginia (which jumped from 28% participation in 2017-2018 to 99% participation in 2018-2019), so the increased numbers of students in Oklahoma taking the SAT isn't the full answer for the low average SAT score.

While it's difficult to say for sure without more data, however, the most likely reason Oklahoma's average SAT scores are just above West Virginia's has to do with student preparedness.

The reason such a high percentage of students took the SAT in West Virginia is that it is mandatory for all juniors (except those taking the West Virginia Alternative Summer Assessment). Because it's a statewide test, there's likely specific SAT preparation done within schools (particularly since it might affect school and district standing and funding).

By contrast, while in Oklahoma each school district chooses to administer either the SAT or ACT, there's no statewide mandate to spend time in classrooms prepping for the SAT specifically.

 

Most Variation Between Sections: Florida (512 Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, 479 Math)

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With a participation rate of 100%, Florida also has the greatest difference between SAT section scores of all states. On average, Florida students score 33 points higher on Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) than they do on Math.

There's an even greater discrepancy among students in the US Virgin Islands—students score an average of 37 points higher on EBRW than on Math—but since there were only 676 students in the class of 2020 who took the SAT there, such variance is less surprising than in Florida (where a whopping 186,321 students in the class of 2020 took the SAT).

 

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List of All Average State SAT Scores

Here are the most recent average SAT scores for all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Find your area below and see how your SAT score compares with your region's average!

State Participation Rate EBRW
Math Total
Alabama 7% 576 551 1127
Alaska 37% 555 543 1098
Arizona 29% 571 568 1139
Arkansas 4% 590 567 1157
California 67% 527 522 1049
Colorado 100% 511 501 1012
Connecticut 100% 527 512 1039
Delaware 100% 497 481 978
District of Columbia 100% 498 482 979
Florida 100% 512 479 992
Georgia 68% 537 516 1053
Hawaii 51% 549 546 1095
Idaho 100% 500 484 984
Illinois 98% 504 503 1007
Indiana 64% 540 534 1074
Iowa 3% 611 609 1220
Kansas 4% 617 620 1237
Kentucky 4% 609 598 1207
Louisiana 5% 597 573 1170
Maine 98% 504 491 995
Maryland 88% 522 507 1029
Massachusetts 80% 560 559 1119
Michigan 100% 503 495 998
Minnesota 4% 624 633 1257
Mississippi 3% 610 593 1203
Missouri 4% 610 603 1212
Montana 10% 598 587 1185
Nebraska 3% 615 614 1229
Nevada 17% 579 571 1150
New Hampshire 93% 531 524 1055
New Jersey 82% 541 540 1081
New Mexico 19% 533 522 1055
New York 79% 528 530 1058
North Carolina 48% 553 544 1096
North Dakota 2% 615 617 1231
Ohio 21% 536 534 1070
Oklahoma 20% 490 481 971
Oregon 51% 557 547 1104
Pennsylvania 67% 543 534 1078
Puerto Rico 511 481 993
Rhode Island 100% 501 489 990
South Carolina 68% 524 503 1026
South Dakota 3% 609 610 1218
Tennessee 7% 601 585 1186
Texas 73% 510 500 1010
Utah 3% 601 603 1204
Vermont 63% 559 545 1103
Virgin Islands 474 437 912
Virginia 65% 567 549 1116
Washington 69% 539 534 1073
West Virginia 98% 480 456 936
Wisconsin 3% 615 628 1243
Wyoming 2% 614 606 1220

Source: The College Board

 

What's Next?

Confused about SAT scoring? Learn more about how the SAT is scored, and get tips on how to figure out your SAT goal score based on the schools you're applying to.

Wondering what it takes to get a perfect SAT score? I scored a perfect SAT score and wrote a detailed guide about what it takes here. Read this to learn all of my best strategies—and to get a 1600 on test day!

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Disappointed with your scores? 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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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. You can also find Allen on his personal website, Shortform, or the Shortform blog.



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