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?
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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!
|District of Columbia||100%||498||482||979|
Source: The College Board
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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.