If you’ve found this article, I assume you’re a student or parent considering your options for your or your child’s high school education. When comparing high schools, average SAT score can be an extremely useful metric since it can give you a sense of the quality of the education and the caliber of students at that high school.
There are several methods for locating a school’s average SAT score, each of which I'll outline in this post. I'll also explain in more depth why you should care about average SAT score and what it can tell you about how high schools compare.
How to Find SAT Scores by High School: Your Options
There are several ways to track down a high school’s average SAT score. The best option for you will depend on your home state.
For all states, you can order SAT reports for graduating seniors by high school from the College Board, but it costs $95/report, and you must be a school officer (e.g. a principal or school counselor). If you're a school officer or are good friends with a school officer, you should consider this option. Unfortunately, this is the only method that will work to find the SAT scores for all schools in all states.
For many states, if you’re looking for the data for public high schools, the best method is to track it down through the Department of Education’s website for your state. Later on, I’ll explain how to find a district’s or specific public high school’s average SAT score using this method. This method will guarantee you’re getting up-to-date, correct, unbiased information, but the Department of Education only has the data on SAT scores by high school for public schools.
This method will not work for the following states:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Dakota*
*NOTE: while these states do not provide SAT data, these states do provide ACT data. For information on how to find that data, read our guide to finding ACT scores by high school.
For these states and for private high schools, you should try one of these alternate search methods:
- look on the high school’s website.
- send an email to an administrator at that high school asking for the average SAT score.
- send an email to the Department of Education in your state asking for the data.
- Google search for "[High School Name] Average SAT Score."
However, the search/school websites often have unreliable or outdated information (i.e. SAT score averages from three years ago). Many schools only remember to update statistics on their website every few years, and administrators may give you the same outdated information. Also, it may take administrators or Department of Education employees a while to respond to your request, especially if they’re on summer vacation.
How to Use the Department of Education’s Website to Find a School District’s or Public High School’s SAT Score
Start by conducting a Google Search for your state’s Department of Education. Search “[State Name] Department of Education.” As an example, I searched for Florida’s Department of Education (see screenshot). Typically, that state’s Department of Education website should be the first search result as it was below:
Once you’re on the Department of Education website, there should be a search box in the upper right-hand corner.
In this search box, type “SAT score” or “SAT data.” That search should bring up the SAT data for the state (see below).
Make sure you select the option to view the most recent SAT data. For example, the first link above says ACT, SAT, and AP Data. The second link says ACT, SAT, and AP Data Archive. The first link is where I’d look first for the most recent data. The ACT, SAT, and AP Data Archive link most likely provides the data from past years. The first link brought me to the page below:
If you’re looking for data or a specific public high school, select the option that will show you SAT School Participation and Means. It may not be labeled the same for your state. However, it should say School in the title.
This link will provide you with school specific data. If you’re looking for data to compare different school districts, select the SAT District Participation file. The district option only provides you with the average SAT scores for each district in the state (without breaking it down by high school).
You’ll have to download the file to your computer (which it should start to do automatically when you click on the link). A large Excel file should open that looks something like this:
What this document shows will vary by state, but all of them should list the high schools and SAT scores either as a composite score or as separate section scores (Math, Critical Reading, and Writing). In the Florida document, it provides the average section score by high school with a breakdown of average section score by race and the number of SAT test-takers by high school with a breakdown by race.
To locate the schools you’re interested in, use the Command + F function on your keyboard to search the file (as I’ve done below).
When you find the data for the school you’re searching for, add together the 3 mean section scores to approximate the average composite SAT score for that school. I grabbed the below numbers from the brown highlighted columns (which had the average SAT section scores for the high school) in the Florida SAT spreadsheet.
580 + 593 + 561 = 1734
If you’re having trouble accessing this SAT data for your state through the Department of Education website, I recommend you contact your state’s Department of Education (the contact information should be on the Department of Education’s website). Typically, they have a specific phone number or email to contact if you’re in search of data (which you are!).
If you’re having trouble getting in contact with the Department of Education or if you want information on private high schools, then I’d recommend you reach out to the high school administrators or, as a last resort, try doing a Google Search for "[High School Name] Average SAT Score." Though, as I mentioned above, websites and administrators may give you outdated information.
Why Does a High School’s Average SAT Score Matter?
You should care about a high school’s average SAT score because the SAT measures not only intelligence but also perseverance.
For the SAT, student perseverance in SAT preparation can drastically change their score. If a student has just slightly above average intelligence, with enough SAT preparation, he or she could get a perfect score on the SAT. Through extensive studying and practicing of test content and test format, test-takers can do very well without being geniuses.
If a high school’s average SAT score is high, it suggests 2 things: the quality of education is better and the students at that high school care more about their education (or more specifically the pursuit of higher education).
Since the SAT does measure your intelligence to some degree and your education is responsible for how much innate intelligence you possess, the better the quality of education you receive, the better you’ll perform on the SAT.
However, as I said earlier, your SAT score is also affected by how much you prepare. If a high school’s average SAT score is above average, you can bet the students at that school are also more invested in their education and more committed to getting into a good 4-year college. These students likely study more and spend time preparing for the SAT.
If you're concerned about your child receiving a quality education and being surrounded by hard-working students, consider sending them to a school or school district with a higher average SAT score.
Devil’s Advocate: Why Shouldn’t You Care About Average SAT Score?
While SAT score can be an indicator of education quality and the quality of students, SAT score may not give you a full picture of the high school.
Many public schools have magnet programs (or gifted programs) which you apply to that are separated from the “regular” track at that high school. These programs often have a higher caliber of student and better quality of education than the rest of the school.
For example, my public high school had an International Baccalaureate magnet program. The program had rigorous qualifications to be accepted while the “regular” high school track had no entrance qualifications. As a result, I’d guess that students in the IB program had higher average SAT scores than the students on the “regular” high school track. However, the published average SAT score mixed the scores of IB students with the non-IB students at the same school.
Therefore, you can’t figure out what the caliber of education and student will be within a magnet program at that school from the average SAT score.
Also, as I said before, a big part of your SAT score is how much effort you put into preparing for the exam. If you attend a school with a low average SAT score, that does not mean you’re doomed to have a low SAT score. If you attend a school with a high average SAT score, that does not mean you'll get a high SAT score. No matter what high school you attend, you need to work hard and learn the test format and strategies to reach a high score on the SAT.
Before you start studying for the SAT, figure out what’s a good score for your target college.
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As an SAT/ACT tutor, Dora has guided many students to test prep success. She loves watching students succeed and is committed to helping you get there. Dora received a full-tuition merit based scholarship to University of Southern California. She graduated magna cum laude and scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. She is also passionate about acting, writing, and photography.