Do you want to know how your SAT score compares to the rest of your state or even the rest of the nation? This type of data provides for a great understanding of SAT scores and where you stand among your peers.

How is the SAT scored?

The two parts of the SAT (Evidence-Based Reading & Writing and Math) are each scored on a scale of 200-800, resulting in a total score ranging from 400-1600. Students are not penalized for incorrect answers on the test, but instead, receive points only for correct answers. This means that when taking the test, never leave an answer blank! It is much better to have a 25% chance of getting a question right than forgoing the question entirely.


When preparing to take the SAT, it is always good practice to collect all of the available data. For example, knowing the national and state averages of SAT scores can be very helpful in determining a goal score for yourself. It can also show you where you stand relative to your peers.

National Average

As of 2020, the national average total score is 1051, with a 528 in Evidence-Based Reading & Writing (EBRW), and a 523 in math. All of the data presented here comes from the College Board’s 2020 SAT state reports.

By State

Something important to understand when looking at average state scores is that for larger states, it is harder to get a high average because more people fall at the tail end of the scores. 

It is also very important to look at the participation rate per state. For example, the state with the highest average SAT score is Minnesota at 1257. However, only 4% of seniors in 2020 took the test (many may have chosen to take the ACT instead). On the other hand, Arizona had 29% participation, with an average score of 1139. While this is a lower score, it is more impressive when the participation rate is taken into account. Participation rate varies among states because some states require SAT testing, while others do not.

Top 10 Highest Scoring States

  • Minnesota – 1257
  • Wisconsin – 1243
  • Kansas – 1237
  • North Dakota – 1231
  • Nebraska – 1229
  • Iowa – 1220
  • Wyoming – 1220
  • South Dakota – 1218
  • Missouri – 1212
  • Kentucky – 1207

Bottom 10 Lowest Scoring States

  • West Virginia – 936
  • Oklahoma – 971
  • Delaware – 978
  • Idaho – 984
  • District of Columbia – 989
  • Rhode Island – 990
  • Florida – 992
  • Maine – 995
  • Michigan – 998
  • Illinois – 1007

Average SAT Score and Participation Rate by State

As mentioned above, these average scores vary due to many reasons. The primary reason is the participation rate, which could be due to required testing or favoring of the ACT by state. Below is the breakdown of average SAT scores and participation rate by state.

StateParticipation RateMean EBRWMean MathMean Total
District of Columbia100%498482979
New Hampshire93%5315241055
New Jersey82%5415401081
New Mexico19%5335221055
New York79%5285301058
North Carolina48%5535441096
North Dakota2%6156171231
Puerto Rico511481993
Rhode Island100%501489990
South Carolina68%5245031026
South Dakota3%6096101218
Virgin Islands474437912
West Virginia98%480456936

Why do I care?

So now you know the breakdown of average SAT scores by state, but why should you care? Information like this is good to know to see where you stand relative to your own state, as well as states that house your dream colleges. It is also important to some colleges what percentile you rank in on the test. This percentile is determined by other test-takers in your state and across the nation. So investing time to understand this data can give you a broader picture of SAT scores and prepare you to understand where you stand in an admission officer’s eyes.

Tips for Success

The average SAT score shouldn’t necessarily be your goal, but a benchmark to compare yourself to.

Set a practical, yet ambitious goal for yourself.

Understanding your own abilities is key when setting your goal for the SAT. Some students may aim for the national average, while others may reach beyond that bar. It all depends on your skillset and your willingness to prepare yourself for the test.

Take the test multiple times.

It is pretty rare that you will hit your goal the first time you take the test. This does not mean you failed in any respect- it means you can learn from your mistakes and prepare better for the next time you take the test. Don’t be afraid to walk in that testing room multiple times until you can walk out with a score you are satisfied with.

Recognize your weaknesses.

Maybe it takes you a very long time to read a reading passage, and that costs you precious minutes on practice tests. Maybe you struggle with graphs and charts in the math sections of the test. Recognizing these weaknesses is important during test prep so that you can target these areas of the test and find ways to push past those barriers to success. Sometimes it takes an outside view to notice these problem areas, and that’s where tutoring becomes a huge help in studying for the SAT.

Top 10 Colleges with the Highest Average SAT Score

College/UniversityAverage Total SAT Score
University of Chicago1530
Johns Hopkins1520
Washington University in St. Louis1520

The above table contains very interesting information to look at, but do not let it scare you away from applying to top schools if your score is not yet where you want it! Tutoring for the SAT is extremely helpful to help clarify points about the test and practice those algebra and annotation skills you haven’t used in a while. It is also good to know that there are many facets to college applications, so making sure that you shine in your essays is key- right next to proper SAT prep.

Bump Your Score Above the Average

Here at SoFlo SAT tutoring, seasoned test-takers from top colleges are just waiting to help you reach your goal SAT score. Try out our tutoring service now to see a score above your state average! 

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