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What Is the Average SAT Score?

Posted by Allen Cheng | Oct 6, 2019 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 the 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 SAT score 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. We'll review data from 2019.

So what is an 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. Plus,

 

National SAT Average Score

According to the College Board's 2019 total group report, the national SAT average scores (for all 2019 high school graduates) are as follows:

  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 531
  • Math: 528
  • Total: 1059

As you can see, if you score higher than 1060 on the SAT, you'll be above the national average and will have scored better than most test takers. If you score less than 1060, however, you'll be below the national average and will have scored lower than most test takers.

Bonus: Review how to find the average of a set of numbers for yourself here.

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The 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 2019 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 534 519 1053
Male 529 537 1066
No Response 409 393 802

 

As you can see, males outperform females on Math by 18 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, and is only one of several factors regarding equity that we have to consider when asking what is an average SAT score.

*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.

 

The 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 12,917 461 451 912
Asian 228,527 586 637 1223
Black/African American 271,178 476 457 933
Hispanic/Latino 554,665 495 483 978
Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander 5,430 487 478 964
White 947,842 562 553 1114
Two or More Races 87,178 554 540 1095
No Response 112,350 472 487 959
Total 2,220,087 531 528 1059

Source: Total Group Report 2019

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.

 

The 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 2017-2019 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, and another factor we have to consider when asked what is an average SAT score.

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

 

 

The 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 2017-2019 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

 

 

The Average SAT Score by State

Below, I've given the 2019 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 (7%) 3,240 583 560 1143
Alaska (41%) 3,212 556 541 1097
Arizona (31%) 21,472 569 565 1134
Arkansas (6%) 1,790 582 559 1141
California (63%) 272,892 534 531 1065
Colorado (100%) 59,494 518 506 1024
Connecticut (100%) 44,029 529 516 1046
Delaware (100%) 10,990 499 486 985
District of Columbia (94%) 4,980 495 480 975
Florida (100%) 190,853 516 483 999
Georgia (71%) 76,340 538 519 1058
Hawaii (54%) 7,346 550 550 1100
Idaho (100)% 20,749 505 488 993
Illinois (100%) 146,681 509 504 1013
Indiana (66%) 49,565 543 537 1080
Iowa (3%) 994 622 622 1244
Kansas (4%) 1,496 618 623 1241
Kentucky (4%) 2,047 620 612 1232
Louisiana (5%) 2,191 610 591 1200
Maine (99%) 14,210 512 502 1013
Maryland (82%) 51,094 535 523 1058
Massachusetts (81%) 59,671 559 561 1120
Michigan (100%) 113,724 507 496 1003
Minnesota (4%) 2,567 636 648 1284
Mississippi (3%) 781 628 608 1237
Missouri (4%) 2,644 622 615 1236
Montana (9%) 880 603 596 1199
Nebraska (3%) 714 628 631 1260
Nevada (20%) 4,957 580 576 1156
New Hampshire (95%) 14,464 533 526 1059
New Jersey (82%) 84,602 544 545 1090
New Mexico (18%) 3,705 543 530 1073
New York (79%) 162,179 531 533 1064
North Carolina (51%) 54,462 554 546 1100
North Dakota (2%) 149 627 636 1263
Ohio (19%) 22,904 550 548 1097
Oklahoma (22%) 9,272 490 472 963
Oregon (51%) 18,625 562 550 1112
Pennsylvania (70%) 95,794 545 537 1082
Puerto Rico 5,189 483 462 944
Rhode Island (100%) 11,478 503 492 995
South Carolina (68%) 31,633 526 504 1030
South Dakota (3%) 266 633 635 1268
Tennessee (7%) 4,374 618 602 1220
Texas (68%) 236,665 515 507 1022
Utah (4%) 1,506 614 615 1230
Vermont (66%) 4,373 560 546 1106
Virginia (68%) 61,182 567 551 1119
Virgin Islands, US 656 490 445 935
Washington (70%) 49,630 539 535 1074
West Virginia (99%) 17,298 483 460 943
Wisconsin (3%) 1,969 635 648 1283
Wyoming (3%) 156 623 615 1238

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. It's helpful to know what an average SAT score is nationally, or what the average SAT score is according to the data above, there's more you need to know in order to get into your top school.

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 learn more about the SAT but tired of reading blog articles? Then you'll love our free SAT prep livestreams. Designed and led by PrepScholar SAT experts, these live video events are a great resource for students and parents looking to learn more about the SAT and SAT prep.

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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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