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What Is the Average SAT Score?

Posted by Allen Cheng | Sep 14, 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 matter for your future.

So what is the average SAT score? That really depends on which group of people you're looking at. Below, we'll look at national averages as well as averages by gender, ethnicity, family income, high school type, and state.

 

National SAT Average Score

For the SAT, the College Board calculates SAT score percentiles for two groups: all 11th and 12th grade students (Nationally Representative Sample Percentiles), and college-bound students in the graduating class of 2017 (SAT User Percentiles).

For the Nationally Representative Sample, the national average SAT score* is as follows:

  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 510
  • Math: 510
  • Total: 1010

For college-bound SAT users, the SAT national average score* is as follows:

  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 530
  • Math: 520
  • Total: 1055

*These SAT averages are actually the median (50th percentile) scores, as the College Board has not released exact averages for these two groups for 2017. Due to the SAT's normal distribution, however, these median scores should be fairly close to the average scores.

According to this data, if you score above 1010 on the SAT, you’ll be above the national average score on the SAT for all juniors and seniors. If you score above 1055, you’ll be above the national average for college-bound seniors.

Keep in mind that when applying to college, you'll be compared with other students who are also applying, meaning that the second average above (1055) is the more relevant one.

 

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Average SAT Scores by Gender

Interestingly, the College Board also calculated the average SAT scores by gender. These averages are based on members of the class of 2017 who took the SAT.

There are two sections on the SAT: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW). Each section is out of 800 points and then combined for a total score out of 1600.

Gender

EBRW

Math

Total

Male

532 538 1070

Female

534

516

1050

 

As you can see, males outperform females on Math by 22 points, while females exceed males on EBRW by 2 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 ethnicities. Most students do share their ethnicity, and the College Board has reported the average SAT scores across ethnicity:

Ethnicity

Number Taking

EBRW

Math

Total

American Indian/Alaska Native

7,782 486 477 963

Asian

158,031 569 612 1181

Black/African American

225,860 479 462 941

Hispanic/Latino

408,067 500 489 990

Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander

4,131 498 488 986

White

760,362 565 553 1118

Two or More Races

57,049 560 544 1103

No Response

94,199 475 485 961

Total

1,715,481 533 527 1060

Source: Total Group Report 2017

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.

 

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 from 2016 and based on the old SAT scoring system (out of 2400), as the 2017 report did not release data by family income. Note that on the old SAT, EBRW was divided into two sections: Reading and Writing.

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

Source: Total Group Profile Report 2016

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 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)

EBRW

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. Again, these averages come from 2016 and use the old 2400-point SAT scale (since the 2017 report did not release information for school type).

School Type

Reading

Math

Writing

Total

Public

487

494

472

1453

Religiously Affiliated

532

537

525

1594

Independent

530

579

536

1645

Other or Unknown

491

580

498

1569

Source: Total Group Profile Report 2016

As you can see, students at independent schools have the highest averages, then religious private schools, then other or unknown schools, and finally public schools. This is unsurprising because private school attendance is typically expensive—certainly more expensive than public school! Thus, this is clearly 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)

EBRW

New Total

Public

520

540

1060

Religiously Affiliated

560

590

1150

Independent

560

590

1150

Other or Unknown

520

550

1070

 

 

Average SAT Score by State

Below, I’ve given the 2017 average SAT scores by state (as well as for Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Washington, DC).

State

Number of Test Takers

EBRW

Math

Total

Alabama

2,393 593 572 1165

Alaska

2,971 547 533 1080

Arizona

20,466 563 553 1116

Arkansas

1,065 614 594 1208

California

226,699 531 524 1055

Colorado

5,896 606 595 1201

Connecticut

43,252 530 512 1041

Delaware

10,060 503 492 996

District of Columbia

4,801 482 468 950

Florida

147,058 520 497 1017

Georgia

63,805 535 515 1050

Hawaii

7,352 544 541 1085

Idaho

18,757 513 493 1005

Illinois

12,402 559 556 1115

Indiana

45,622 542 532 1074

Iowa

861 641 635 1275

Kansas

1,199 632 628 1260

Kentucky

1,608 631 616 1247

Louisiana

1,696 611 586 1198

Maine

13,826 513 499 1012

Maryland

42,919 536 524 1060

Massachusetts

56,024 555 551 1107

Michigan

110,082 509 495 1005

Minnesota

2,061 644 651 1295

Mississippi

716 634 607 1242

Missouri

1,990 640 631 1271

Montana

990 605 591 1196

Nebraska

680 629 625 1253

Nevada

6,245 563 553 1116

New Hampshire

14,758 532 520 1052

New Jersey

72,173 530 526 1056

New Mexico

2,342 577 561 1138

New York

135,141 528 523 1052

North Carolina

49,595 546 535 1081

North Dakota

123 635 621 1256

Ohio

14,545 578 570 1149

Oklahoma

2,776 530 517 1047

Oregon

15,866 560 548 1108

Pennsylvania

89,218 540 531 1071

Puerto Rico

2,913 515 487 1003

Rhode Island

7,205 539 524 1062

South Carolina

22,292 543 521 1064

South Dakota

237 612 603 1216

Tennessee

3,495 623 604 1228

Texas

204,409 513 507 1020

Utah

1,277 624 614 1238

Vermont

4,303 562 551 1114

Virginia

57,453 561 541 1102

Virgin islands, US

752 483 442 924

Washington

43,911 541 534 1075

West Virginia

2,406 558 528 1086

Wisconsin

1,780 642 649 1291

Wyoming

144 626 604 1230

Source: The College Board

There's a lot 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 take it specifically to prepare their 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 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 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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