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What Is the Average SAT Score?

Posted by Allen Cheng | Nov 1, 2018 11:00:00 AM

SAT General Info

 

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If you've taken the SAT, you're probably curious about how your score stacks up against average SAT scores. There are lots of different ways to look at averages on the SAT. What is the average SAT score overall? How many types of average SAT scores are there? And which averages are important for you?

We'll answer all of these questions and more to 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 look at national averages as well as averages by gender, ethnicity, family income, high school type, and state.

 

National SAT Average Score

According to the College Board's 2018 total group report, the national SAT average scores (for all 2018 high school graduates) are as follows:

  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 536
  • Math: 531
  • Total: 1068

As you can see, if you score higher than 1068 on the SAT, you’ll be above the national average and will have scored better than most test takers. If you score less than 1068, however, you'll be below the national average and will have scored lower than most test takers.

 

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Average SAT Scores by Gender

The College Board has also calculated the average SAT scores by gender. These averages are based on members of the class of 2018 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
Female 539 522 1061
Male 534 542 1076
No Response 406 374 779

 

As you can see, males outperform females on Math by 20 points, while females exceed males on EBRW by 5 points.

According to a statistical significance test (t-test), the differences in EBRW and math scores here are considered extremely significant (in technical terms, the P value is less than 0.0001, meaning roughly that it is very unlikely these differences are 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.

*I looked for research to back up the differences between EBRW scores for students identifying as male vs those identifying as females but was unable to find anything both relevant and peer-reviewed from the last 15 years. We'll update this article with more information as and when it comes out.

 

Average SAT Scores by Ethnicity

When registering for the SAT, the College Board gives you the option to specify your ethnicity, with most students opting to share it. Here are the average SAT scores by ethnicity:

Ethnicity

# of Test Takers

EBRW

Math

Total

American Indian/Alaska Native 10,946 480 469 949
Asian 217,971 588 635 1223
Black/African American 263,318 483 463 946
Hispanic/Latino 499,442 501 489 990
Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander 5,620 498 489 986
White 930,825 566 557 1123
Two or More Races 77,078 558 543 1101
No Response 131,339 472 481 954
Total 2,136,539 536 531 1068

Source: Total Group Report 2018

The implications of these results are important to consider. The black-white test score gap, for example, has been researched extensively to try to find the root causes of it. In the other direction, Asians have the highest SAT score averages, which has led some to question whether colleges discriminate against Asians. (Of course, the disparity in sizes of the different groups taking the SAT and socioeconomic inequality also play a key role in creating these differences.)

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 and 2018 reports did not release data by family income. Note that on the old SAT, instead of one EBRW score, you got two separate scores for Reading and Writing (each out of 800).

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, a higher average score on the SAT is typically 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 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 (the 2017 and 2018 reports 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, followed by those at religious private schools, other or unknown schools, and finally public schools. 

This trend is unsurprising since private school attendance is typically expensive—certainly more expensive than public school! Thus, the pattern here 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 big 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 2018 average SAT scores by state (as well as for Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Washington, DC).

State

# of Test Takers

EBRW

Math

Total

Alabama (6%) 2,878 595 571 1166
Alaska (43%) 3,334 562 544 1106
Arizona (29%) 20,188 577 572 1149
Arkansas (5%) 1,591 592 576 1169
California (60%) 262,228 540 536 1076
Colorado (100%) 58,790 519 506 1025
Connecticut (100%) 44,700 535 519 1053
Delaware (100%) 11,055 505 492 998
District of Columbia (92%) 4,985 497 480 977
Florida (97%) 176,746 522 493 1014
Georgia (70%) 74,240 542 522 1064
Hawaii (56%) 7,880 550 549 1099
Idaho (100)% 20,484 508 493 1001
Illinois (99%) 145,919 513 506 1019
Indiana (67%) 48,962 546 539 1086
Iowa (3%) 994 634 632 1265
Kansas (4%) 1,419 633 631 1265
Kentucky (4%) 1,925 630 618 1248
Louisiana (4%) 2,027 615 595 1210
Maine (99%) 14,310 512 501 1013
Maryland (76%) 48,040 545 535 1080
Massachusetts (80%) 59,382 562 563 1125
Michigan (100%) 115,281 511 499 1011
Minnesota (4%) 2,464 643 655 1298
Mississippi (3%) 806 630 606 1236
Missouri (4%) 2,420 633 629 1262
Montana (10%) 952 606 592 1229
Nebraska (3%) 688 629 623 1252
Nevada (23%) 5,588 574 566 1140
New Hampshire (96%) 14,834 535 528 1063
New Jersey (82%) 84,672 547 547 1094
New Mexico (16%) 3,225 552 540 1093
New York (79%) 162,551 534 534 1068
North Carolina (52%) 54,987 554 543 1098
North Dakota (2%) 148 640 643 1283
Ohio (18%) 22,992 552 547 1099
Oklahoma (8%) 3,337 541 521 1062
Oregon (48%) 17,476 564 553 1117
Pennsylvania (70%) 96,740 547 539 1086
Puerto Rico 3,783 512 481 993
Rhode Island (97%) 10,161 513 505 1018
South Carolina (55%) 25,390 547 523 1070
South Dakota (3%) 260 622 618 1241
Tennessee (6%) 4,181 624 607 1231
Texas (66%) 226,374 520 512 1032
Utah (4%) 1,425 618 612 1230
Vermont (64%) 4,323 565 554 1120
Virginia (68%) 61,576 567 550 1117
Virgin Islands, US 635 490 445 935
Washington (69%) 48,574 543 538 1081
West Virginia (28%) 5,058 513 486 999
Wisconsin (3%) 1,923 641 653 1294
Wyoming (3%) 169 633 635 1257

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 these cases, scores tend to be lower because even students who might not typically take the SAT (or prepare for it) must 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. As a result, the subsample of students who take the SAT will, in general, be 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 based on gender, ethnicity, family income, school type, and state, most of it 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 average SAT scores that matter most for you are the averages for the colleges you’re interested in. If you can score above a school's average SAT score, you'll have a far better chance of getting in.

But what score should you aim for specifically? The score you need to hit to give yourself your best chance of admission is your SAT goal score. We explain more about how to find this in our article on what makes a good SAT score.

Briefly, though, here's what you'll need to do: on a chart, record the 25th and 75th percentile SAT scores (i.e., the middle 50% or average range) for each of the schools you're applying to. Once you've filled everything out, look for the highest 75th percentile score to get your goal score.

Hit this score on test day, and you'll have a great shot at getting into your dream school!

 

What's Next?

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

Want to know the average SAT scores from past years? Maybe you want help predicting your own SAT score, or are wondering whether there's a minimum SAT score requirement for college.

Need help preparing for the SAT? Then check out our total guide to studying for the test. We also have a one-month cramming plan and some tips for balancing your 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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