Bonus Material: SAT score ranges at 499 schools

Every day, students and families ask us to help them understand SAT scores. 

In this post, we’ll do a deep dive into the data to answer all of your questions about average SAT scores. 

We’ll answer what’s the average SAT score in the US for this year—but also the average SAT score for the Ivy League, the average SAT score at the best universities and liberal arts colleges in the US, and average SAT score at the top public universities

We’ll find out which states have the highest average SAT scores, and how the SAT scores have changed over time.

Finally, we’ll show how to use this data to help navigate the college admissions process more successfully.

We did exhaustive original research to get the latest data that’s not easily available, from dozens of separate sources (including working directly with admissions offices at universities throughout the country). As Princeton grads who love data, we did all the hard work so you don’t have to!

In this post we’ll cover:

SAT score ranges for 499 schools

Bonus Material: SAT score ranges at 499 schools


How to use average SAT scores to improve your college admissions strategy

Average SAT scores can be a powerful tool in crafting your admissions strategy.

For example, imagine you had a 1360 SAT. That’s a great score!

In fact, it’s in the 93rd percentile of all students who take the SAT! That means that you would have scored higher than 93% of students in the US.

BUT this core is in the bottom 10% of scores of students at the top schools in the US.

This graph shows how common different SAT scores are at six top US universities:

Distribution of SAT scores at top universities

Almost all of the students had scores in the 700s for Math and for Reading & Writing! For example, we can calculate that only 67 freshmen at Harvard and 72 freshmen at Princeton had a SAT Math score in the 600s.

The graph shows that if you scored in the 500s for either section, there would be single-digit numbers of students at these top schools with a similar score to yours . . . and we can assume that those people had something REALLY amazing about them—they are probably Olympic athletes or published scientists or students who fought exceptional circumstances (refugees from war zones, etc). 

On the whole, we can see that at these top schools, roughly 90% of students scored in the 700s on each section, and 90% of students have total SAT scores in the 1400–1600 range.

What does this mean for students hoping to apply to the Ivy League and other top schools?

Princeton University

Uncovering the data for the distribution of SAT scores at colleges and universities throughout the US allows us to get a better sense of an applicant’s chances at a given school. A good general rule is that your SAT score should fall within the 25th and 75th percentile at your target schools (also called the “middle 50”). 

(Percentile means the percentage of students compared to whom your score would be higher. So 15th percentile means that your score would be higher than that of 15% of other students, but that 85% of students would have a higher score than yours. Or 80th percentile means that you scored higher than 80% of other students. We use percentiles to talk about where an individual student falls within a given distribution.)

It’s okay to apply to a few schools where your SAT score would be below the 25th percentile, but those are “reach” schools for you, and you should expect that your chances of admission are low at those schools, especially if you don’t have exceptional grades, extracurriculars, and essays.

On the other hand, schools where your SAT scores are above the 75th percentile—assuming your grades are okay—are probably “safe” schools with higher odds of acceptance.

We also like for “safety” schools to have an acceptance rate higher than about 30%, since even for an amazing applicant there’s a significant element of chance at the most competitive schools.

In this way, you can use your SAT scores to craft a balanced college application list, with at least two safety schools, two target schools, and two reach schools. 

SAT target range

(By the end of your junior year, it’s hard to change your GPA or your extracurriculars—but it’s definitely possible to improve your SAT scores and your college essays. Want to boost your SAT scores so that they’ll be within range for your dream school? Check out our SAT classes or one-on-one SAT tutoring.)

Test scores are obviously not the entirety of a college application—all the other elements matter, especially your high school academic record.

A note about test-optional: although many schools have temporarily implemented test-optional policies to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic, we can see from the data that at the top schools the vast majority of admitted students did submit SAT or ACT scores. Looking at detailed information from the admissions offices, SAT and ACT scores will still be used for admissions purposes if they’re submitted, so good scores can still be part of a compelling application. It’s also unclear how long the test-optional policies will last, so we still advise students to take the SAT and/or ACT and try to get the best scores possible.


What’s a good SAT score?

It depends!

We go into this in more detail in another post.

But generally speaking, a “good” SAT score for you will be in the range between the 25th and 75th percentiles for your target schools, and it should be above the 75th percentile for your safety schools.

Your score can be below the 25th percentile for your reach schools, but know that they’re exactly that—a reach—and your chances of admittance are low, especially if you don’t have some other aspect in which you’re exceptional (or at least above-average for that particular school).

Read on below to see if your score is above-average for the US or for your state!


National average SAT score

What’s the average SAT score in the US for 2022? The short answer is 533 for Evidence-Based Reading & Writing, 528 for Math, and 1060 total.

But we have a lot more useful data than just this number! For starters, we learn a lot more when we look at a graph showing the distribution of scores on a national level:

Distribution of SAT scores

We see roughly a bell-shaped curve—fewer students receive scores on the very low or very high end, and most students have scores around the middle.

Very few students score in the 200s. Roughly 60% of students score in the 400s or 500s for each section, or in the 800–1200 range for their total SAT score. 

Only 8% of students scored in the 1400–1600 range.

In 2021–2022 this was roughly 120,000 students across the entire US.

As we’ll see below, almost all of the students at the top-tier schools come from among these 120,000 students (and from among a roughly comparable number who were top scorers on the ACT).

One interesting thing to note is that even though the average score is a bit higher for Reading & Writing than it is for Math (533 vs 528), more students score very highly in Math than in Reading & Writing—in 2022, only 118,165 students across the US scored in the 700s for Reading & Writing, compared to 155,923 who scored in the 700s for Math. 

One guess is that this is because it’s easier to improve your Math scores with focused study and targeted practice than your Reading & Writing scores. 

For Math, the test is more content-based, and smart studying can help students review or learn the concepts that they might have forgotten or never mastered in their high school classes.

For Reading & Writing, there are still test strategies that you can learn and ways to improve your score, but it’s comparatively harder to get those gains within only a few months. 

If you’re looking for help building reading comprehension and grammar skills, check out our SAT classes, writing classes, and one-on-one tutoring.

The average scores for Reading & Writing haven’t always been higher than the average scores for Math! Looking at the historic SAT score data, we see that it’s shifted over the years:

SAT historical averages, 1967-2021

From 1967 to 1989, average scores for Reading were higher. During this time, the average scores gradually decreased.

Then, from 1990 to 2016, average scores for Math were higher. In this period, scores rose a bit, then decreased again.

Between spring 2005 and spring 2016, the SAT had a third Writing section made up of multiple-choice and an essay. (During this time, students received three section scores and total SAT scores went up to 2400.)

In spring 2016, the SAT went back to two sections, with Reading and Writing combined into one section. (The College Board calls this “Evidence-Based Reading & Writing.) The average scores leapt up quite a bit with this change!

Since 2016, the difference between the average Math score and the average Reading & Writing score has been smaller. These averages have hovered around 530 for both sections.


Which schools have the highest average SAT scores?

Wondering which schools in the US have the highest SAT scores? The answer may surprise you!

The schools at the top of the list aren’t in the Ivy League! Stanford isn’t on the list, either!

Since not all schools provide data for the total SAT scores, we looked at the individual scores for Math and for Evidence-Based Reading & Writing (EBRW).

We focused on the middle 50% of students at each school—the range between the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile—because that gives us a much clearer picture of the distribution of scores than a single number.

Using this 25/75 range, we get a good sense of the “average” student at one of these schools. 

Here’s a graph of the schools with the highest SAT Math scores:

US schools with the highest SAT math scores

The schools with the highest SAT Math scores aren’t in the Ivy League—they’re all STEM-focused schools!

CalTech (California Institute of Technology), for example, has the highest scores for SAT Math: 75% of students scored at least a 790 on the Math section.

That means that most students at CalTech have a near-perfect SAT Math score!

California beach

At the best schools for math, science, and engineering in the country, we can see that SAT Math scores are very consistently high. If you’re aiming for CalTech or MIT, you’ll need to have a perfect or near-perfect score!

The range of the middle 50 gets a little bit wider as we go down the list, but at all of these 15 schools, at least a quarter of the students scored a perfect 800 on the SAT Math section. That’s impressive!

At CalTech, MIT, University of Chicago, Harvey Mudd, Washington University in St. Louis, Carnegie Mellon, Duke, Vanderbilt, University of Pennsylvania, Rice, and Johns Hopkins, most students on campus (over 75%) scored a 750 or above for SAT Math.

The graph looks a little different when we look at the schools with the highest SAT Evidence-Based Reading & Writing scores:

US schools with the highest SAT reading & writing scores

Even at the top schools, the scores for Reading & Writing are a bit lower than the scores for Math.

In fact, we know that fewer than 25% of students at the top schools have a perfect 800 for Reading & Writing.

This makes sense, since we know that across the country, fewer students score in the super-high range for Reading & Writing.

A perfect 800 for Reading & Writing is just much more rare than a perfect 800 for Math.

Which school has the highest SAT scores for Reading & Writing?

Surprisingly, the top 3 are CalTech, MIT, and University of Chicago again!

University of Chicago
University of Chicago

More of the Ivies have crept up on the list, with Harvard and Yale now tying for fourth place. What percentage of students at these schools have a perfect 1600?

We can’t tell this exactly from the published data, but for some schools we know that at least 25% of the students have a perfect 800.

We also know that at the top schools roughly 90% of students have scores in the 1400–1600 range.

This is perhaps a good reminder that a great SAT score alone doesn’t guarantee admission to the most competitive schools, since (unfortunately) it’s not particularly exceptional at those schools.

Wondering how your dream school compares? Check out this list of SAT score ranges at 499 schools across the US.


What is the average SAT score for the Ivy League?

What is the Ivy League, and what is the average SAT score for the Ivy League schools? 

Average SAT scores for the Ivy League

Technically the Ivy League is actually an athletic league! The term was coined in the 1930s and made official in 1954, when Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Penn, Brown, Dartmouth, and Cornell formed an agreement to balance competition in football with high academic standards. From the 1950s, these eight schools organized athletic competitions in many sports, and they gradually also added committees to develop intercollegiate policies for admissions and financial aid. 

The Ivy League represents some of the oldest and most prestigious schools in the country. Here’s the complete list:

  • Harvard University, founded 1636, in Cambridge, MA
  • Yale University, founded 1701, in New Haven, CT
  • University of Pennsylvania, founded 1740, in Philadelphia, PA
  • Princeton University, founded 1746, in Princeton, NJ
  • Columbia University, founded 1754, in New York City, NY
  • Brown University, founded 1764, in Providence, RI
  • Dartmouth College, founded 1769, in Hanover, NH
  • Cornell University, founded 1865, in Ithaca, NY

Here is the range between the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile at the eight Ivy League schools:

SAT score ranges for the Ivy League

These are very high SAT scores!

Most students scored in the 700s at all of the Ivy-League schools.

Perfect scores are pretty common at the Ivy League.

At Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, and Penn, at least a quarter of students had a perfect score on the SAT Math section.

At Harvard and Yale, at least a quarter of students had a 780 or higher for the SAT Reading & Writing section.

As we can see, all of the schools in the Ivy League have quite similar ranges. If we take an average of the entire Ivy League, the ranges would be 736–796 for SAT Math, 710–770 for SAT Evidence-Based Reading & Writing, and 1446–1566 total SAT.

That means that if your dream is to attend an Ivy-League school, you should work to get your SAT section scores into the 700s

Harvard University
Harvard University

We can take a look at the numbers here:

College NameAdmit %Reading 25thReading 75thMath 25thMath 75thTotal 25thTotal 75th
Harvard University5.0%72078074080014601580
Princeton University5.6%71077074080014501570
Yale University6.5%72078074080014601580
Columbia University6.7%72077074080014601570
Brown University7.7%71077073079014401560
University of Pennsylvania9.0%71077075080014601570
Dartmouth College9.2%71077073079014401560
Cornell University10.7%68075072079014001540
source: IPEDS 2020 and CDS 2021–22

Average SAT scores for the top research universities in the US (Ivies+)

The Ivies are certainly some of the best universities in the US, but not all of the top universities are in the Ivy League, since the Ivy League schools are only on the East Coast.

There are a few other top universities that rank among the Ivies—or, in some cases, higher than some of the less-competitive Ivies (like Cornell and Dartmouth).

This list of top-tier universities is sometimes known as the “Ivies Plus,” or “Ivies+.” This isn’t a fixed list, but typically it includes at least Stanford, MIT, and UChicago, and sometimes up to the top twenty or so universities in the US, adding Caltech, Northwestern, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, Rice, WashU, UCLA, and Notre Dame.

Duke University
Duke University

Here, we show the range between the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile at the top-tier (Ivies Plus) schools:

SAT score ranges at the top universities

Looking at the graph, we can see that average SAT scores are consistently very high at all of these schools. The middle 50% of students scored in the 700s for both sections at all of these top-tier schools.

For example, at Stanford, a 720 Reading would be in the 25th percentile, so 75% of students have above a 720 Reading. A 750 Math would be in the 25th percentile, so 75% of students have above a 750 Math. The 75th percentile for Math is 800, so actually more than 25% of students at Stanford have a perfect 800 for Math! 

Interestingly, the Math score ranges are higher than Reading & Writing score ranges at all of these top-tier schools.

One guess is that this is because the dedicated students who were admitted to these top schools worked hard to raise their SAT scores, and it’s generally easier to raise your Math SAT score than your Reading & Writing SAT score.

As a whole, the average SAT scores for the top 20 universities in the US are 711–768 for Evidence-Based Reading & Writing, 740–797 for Math, and 1450–1564 for total SAT scores.

That means that if you hope to apply to the top-tier universities in the US, you should aim for SAT scores in the 700s, and in the upper 700s for Math.

Average SAT scores at the top US universities

We can dig into the data a little more to see the distribution of scores at each of these top-tier schools. Generally speaking, about 90% of students scored in the 700s for each section of the SAT. (This drops to about 80% of students for Notre Dame and 60% of students at UCLA.)

distribution of SAT scores at top schools

The graphs show us that there were only a handful of students in each class year with Math or Reading & Writing scores lower than 600.

The graph for the total scores also shows us that if a student does have a particularly low score for Math or for Reading, then they had a higher score in the other section. Very, very few students have lower scores on both sections.

SAT score distributions at the top universities

For example, the data tells us that just 5 students in the freshman class at Yale had SAT scores in the 1000–1190 range. Only 74 students at Yale had SAT scores in the 1200–1390 range. And 886 students (92% of the students who submitted SAT scores) had scores in the 1400–1600 range!

The distribution of scores is similar at all of these top universities. To summarize: at the best schools in the country, about 90% of students have total SAT scores in the 1400–1600 range.

Stanford University
Stanford University

Check out the numbers here: 

College NameAdmit %Reading 25thReading 75thMath 25thMath 75thTotal 25thTotal 75th
Harvard University5.0%72078074080014601580
Stanford University5.2%70077072080014201570
Princeton University5.6%71077074080014501570
Yale University6.5%72078074080014601580
Columbia University6.7%72077074080014601570
California Institute of Technology6.7%74078079080015301580
Massachusetts Institute of Technology7.3%73078078080015101580
University of Chicago7.3%73077077080015001570
Brown University7.7%71077073079014401560
Duke University7.7%72077075080014701570
University of Pennsylvania9.0%71077075080014601570
Dartmouth College9.2%71077073079014401560
Northwestern University9.3%70076073079014301550
Cornell University10.7%68075072079014001540
Rice University10.9%71077075080014601570
Johns Hopkins University11.1%72076075080014701560
Vanderbilt University11.6%72077075080014701570
University of California-Los Angeles14.3%65074064078012901520
Washington University in St Louis16.0%72076076080014801560
University of Notre Dame19.0%69076071079014001550
source: IPEDS 2020 and CDS 2021–22

Average SAT scores for top-ranked liberal arts colleges

You’re probably heard the phrase “liberal arts college” before, but what is it exactly and how is it different from a university?

In a nutshell, liberal arts colleges are smaller and more focused on undergraduate students compared to research universities. In fact, many liberal arts colleges do not offer any graduate degree programs.

Liberal arts colleges are also more likely to be focused on broader multi-disciplinary studies, and less likely to be focused on preparing students for specific vocations. That doesn’t mean that they don’t support students’ career goals, but they tend to offer more flexibility to explore different areas of study.

These schools may be smaller, but their academics aren’t any less stellar. Here we can see the SAT score ranges at the top 30 schools on the US News and World Report ranking, ordered by admissions rates:

SAT score ranges at the best liberal arts colleges

As we can see, the average SAT scores at the top liberal arts colleges in the US are quite high!

In the case of Pomona, Swarthmore, Amherst, Williams, and Harvey Mudd, these scores are comparable to the scores at the Ivy League and other top-tier universities.

In fact, the Math scores at Harvey Mudd—one of the best schools in the country for STEM studies—are actually higher than any of the Ivy-League schools! 

As a whole, the average SAT scores for the top 30 liberal arts colleges in the US are 658–735 for Evidence-Based Reading & Writing, 660–759 for Math, and 1318–1494 for total SAT scores.

Broadly speaking, if you’re hoping to attend a top-tier liberals arts college, you want your total SAT score to be in the 1300s or 1400s.

Average SAT scores for best liberal arts colleges

Check out the numbers here: 

College NameAdmit %Reading 25thReading 75thMath 25thMath 75thTotal 25thTotal 75th
Pomona College8.6%69075070079013901540
United States Military Academy8.6%61070060074012101440
Swarthmore College9.1%69075070579013951540
United States Naval Academy9.1%61071062074012301450
Bowdoin College9.2%66074067077013301510
Colby College10.3%68074070078013801520
Amherst College11.8%71077072079014301560
Claremont McKenna College13.3%66073067077013301500
United States Air Force Academy13.4%60070062073012201430
Colorado College13.6%63072061074012401460
Barnard College13.6%68074867077013501518
Bates College14.1%62071059071012101420
Williams College15.1%70077071079014101560
Harvey Mudd College18.0%72077077080014901570
Haverford College18.2%67075069077013601520
Hamilton College18.4%68075070076013801510
Grinnell College19.2%67075068378813531538
Davidson College20.0%65072065074013001460
Wellesley College20.4%68075067077013501520
Wesleyan University20.9%67075067077013401520
Carleton College21.2%66075067077013301520
Middlebury College22.0%67075067077013401520
Washington and Lee University24.5%67074068076013501500
Vassar College24.5%68075068077013601520
Colgate University27.5%65072065075013001470
Berea College33.0%54064054064010801280
Scripps College35.1%67073065075013201480
Smith College36.5%67074065577013251510
Kenyon College36.9%66073062073012801460
Bryn Mawr College38.4%63074061076012401500
Macalester College38.7%64072064073012801450
Mount Holyoke College52.5%63073064077012701500
source: IPEDS 2020 and CDS 2021–22

Average SAT scores for top-ranked public universities

Of course, there are some fantastic public universities throughout the US, many of which are nearly as competitive as the Ivy League and other top-tier private schools. (In recent years, one public university, UCLA, has even broken into the ranks of the top 20 schools in the US.)

For specific programs or majors, these schools might even offer more opportunities than private colleges and universities.

University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley

In fact, back in 1985 a Yale Admissions officer coined the phrase “public Ivies” to describe the best of the public universities, in his book Public Ivies: A Guide to America’s Best Public Undergraduate Colleges and Universities.

A more recent list was published by Howard and Matthew Greene’s 2001 book The Public Ivies: America’s Flagship Public Universities. According to this book, the top 30 public universities in the US the following:

Northeastern

  • Pennsylvania State University (University Park)
  • Rutgers University (New Brunswick)
  • State University of New York at Binghamton 
  • University of Connecticut (Storrs)

Mid-Atlantic

  • College of William & Mary (Williamsburg, Virginia)
  • University of Delaware (Newark)
  • University of Maryland (College Park)
  • University of Virginia (Charlottesville)

Southern

  • University of Florida (Gainesville)
  • University of Georgia (Athens)
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Texas at Austin

Great Lakes & Midwest

  • Indiana University Bloomington
  • Miami University (Oxford, Ohio)
  • Michigan State University (East Lansing)
  • Ohio State University (Columbus)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
  • University of Iowa (Iowa City)
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)
  • University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  • University of Wisconsin–Madison

Western

  • University of Arizona (Tucson)
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of California, Irvine
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • University of Washington (Seattle)

We expanded this list to show you the average SAT scores at the top 50 public universities in the US, ordered according to the US News and World Report rankings. A dot indicates schools on the list of “public Ivies”:

SAT score ranges at the top public universities

We can notice that, as with the top-tier universities and liberal arts colleges, the average SAT scores at most top public universities are higher for Math than for Evidence-Based Reading & Writing, likely because the top students study hard to raise their SAT Math scores, but it’s harder to raise SAT Reading & Writing scores.

We can also notice a few schools with especially high SAT Math scores compared to their SAT Reading & Writing, like the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin (Madison), and Purdue. These happen to be universities with particularly strong programs in math and engineering.

At Indiana University and University of Iowa, on the other hand, the average SAT Reading & Writing scores are higher than the average SAT Math scores.

This might reflect the fact that Indiana University is one of the top schools in the country for music, while the University of Iowa is well-known for its writing programs.

As a whole, the average SAT scores for the 50 best public universities in the US are 595–685 for Evidence-Based Reading & Writing, 600–713 for Math, and 1198–1397 for total SAT scores.

Roughly speaking, this means that if you hope to attend one of the top large public universities, you should aim for a total SAT score in the 1200s or 1300s.

Average SAT scores at the top public universities

*Note that through 2025, the University of California schools aren’t accepting SAT or ACT scores. (They’re not just test-optional, they’re test-blind, so they won’t look at scores if submitted.) However, as we discussed above, looking at historic SAT data can still give a good idea about the competitiveness of the schools and your general chances of admission.

Check out the numbers here: 

College NameAdmit %25th75th25th75th25th75th
University of California-Los Angeles14.3%65074064078012901520
University of California-Berkeley17.5%65074066079013101530
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus21.3%67074070079013701530
University of Virginia-Main Campus22.6%66074066077013201510
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill25.0%64073064076012801490
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor26.1%66074068078013401520
University of California-Irvine29.9%60068063075012301430
University of Florida31.1%65072064074012901460
The University of Texas at Austin32.0%61072060075012101470
Florida State University32.5%62068060067012201350
University of Miami33.1%62070063072012501420
University of California-San Diego36.6%62071065077012701480
University of California-Santa Barbara36.7%62071061075012301460
William & Mary42.2%66074064075013001490
Binghamton University43.0%64071065074012901450
North Carolina State University at Raleigh46.2%61069062072012301410
University of California-Davis46.4%57067059073011601400
University of Georgia48.4%63072062074012501460
Stony Brook University48.9%60069063075012301440
University of South Florida49.2%59066057066011601320
University of Maryland-College Park51.0%63072064076012701480
Colorado School of Mines55.0%62070065074012701440
University of Washington-Seattle Campus55.9%59070061075312001453
University of Connecticut56.1%58068059071011701390
University of Wisconsin-Madison57.2%61069065077012601460
Pennsylvania State-University Park57.6%60069060071012001400
Clemson University61.9%61069060070012101390
Texas A & M University-College Station63.3%58068058070011601380
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign63.3%59069061077012001460
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus63.9%62370062072012431420
University of Minnesota-Morris64.7%51062053063010401250
University of Massachusetts-Amherst65.3%60068060071012001390
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University65.8%59068058069011701370
University of California-Riverside65.8%54063054065010801280
University of Delaware66.0%58066057067011501330
New Jersey Institute of Technology66.0%59067061072012001390
Rutgers University-New Brunswick66.9%58068060073011801410
University at Buffalo67.0%56064058067011401310
Purdue University-Main Campus67.2%58068059074011701420
Indiana University-East67.3%4705704505509201120
Ohio State University-Main Campus68.5%59069062074012101430
Auburn University71.2%59065058068011801330
Temple University72.3%56067055067011201320
University of Tennessee Knoxville74.9%59067058067011801340
University of Illinois Chicago78.8%54065054066010901300
Michigan State University83.3%55065055067011101310
University of Utah84.0%59069059070011901380
University of Colorado-Boulder84.2%59069058070011801380
University of California-Merced84.8%4705704705709501140
University of Iowa86.2%57068056067011401330
University of Arizona-Tucson87.1%56068056069011401360
University of Oregon93.4%56067055066011201330
source: IPEDS 2020, CDS 2020–21, and CDS 2021–22

Average SAT scores for Big Ten universities

What is the Big Ten? Like the Ivy League, it’s also an athletic league first and foremost. But in the Midwest, it’s a shorthand for many of the top large universities: the Universities of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin, along with Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, and Rutgers.

(For many decades, the conference had ten schools, hence the name, though currently it has fourteen.)

University of Illinois football
University of Illinois

The schools of the Big Ten conference are known for combining academic achievement with athletic success. Most are public universities, but Northwestern is a top-tier private university. 

We can see that the average SAT scores at the Big Ten universities are high:

SAT score ranges at the big 10 universities

As a whole, the average SAT scores for the Big Ten conference are 576–674 for Evidence-Based Reading & Writing, 586–706 for Math, and 1162–1375 for total SAT scores.

That means that, broadly speaking, if you want to go to a Big Ten university, you’ll want your total SAT score to be in the 1200s or 1300s.

Average SAT scores for Big 10 schools

Check out the numbers here:

College NameAdmit %25th75th25th75th25th75th
Northwestern University9.3%70076073079014301550
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor26.1%66074068078013401520
University of Maryland-College Park51.0%63072064076012701480
University of Wisconsin-Madison57.2%61069065077012601460
Pennsylvania State-University Park57.6%60069060071012001400
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign63.3%59069061077012001460
University of Minnesota-Morris64.7%51062053063010401250
Rutgers University-New Brunswick66.9%58068060073011801410
Purdue University-Main Campus67.2%58068059074011701420
Indiana University-East67.3%4705704505509201120
Ohio State University-Main Campus68.5%59069062074012101430
Michigan State University83.3%55065055067011101310
University of Iowa86.2%57068056067011401330
University of Nebraska88.3%55066054066011001310
source: IPEDS 2020 and CDS 2021–22

Average SAT scores for the top 50 colleges and universities in the US

So far we’ve been looking at specific types of schools. Wondering what the average SAT scores are for all of the top 50 schools in the US? Here are the ranges of the middle 50% of students at the top 50 schools (by admissions rate) in the US:

SAT score ranges at the top 50 US schools

As a whole, the average SAT scores for the top 50 colleges and universities in the US are 684–751 for Evidence-Based Reading & Writing, 703–782 for Math, and 1387–1533 for total SAT scores

A good rule of thumb for anyone who wants to apply to a top-50 school is to aim for SAT section scores in the 700s, with a total score in the 1400s or 1500s.

Average SAT scores at the 50 best schools

Check out the numbers here: 

College Name Admit % Reading 25th Reading 75th Math 25th Math 75th Total 25th Total 75th
Harvard University 5.0% 720 780 740 800 1460 1580
Stanford University 5.2% 700 770 720 800 1420 1570
Princeton University 5.6% 710 770 740 800 1450 1570
Yale University 6.5% 720 780 740 800 1460 1580
Columbia University in the City of New York 6.7% 720 770 740 800 1460 1570
California Institute of Technology 6.7% 740 780 790 800 1530 1580
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 7.3% 730 780 780 800 1510 1580
University of Chicago 7.3% 730 770 770 800 1500 1570
Brown University 7.7% 710 770 730 790 1440 1560
Duke University 7.7% 720 770 750 800 1470 1570
Pomona College 8.6% 690 750 700 790 1390 1540
United States Military Academy 8.6% 610 700 600 740 1210 1440
University of Pennsylvania 9.0% 710 770 750 800 1460 1570
Swarthmore College 9.1% 690 750 705 790 1395 1540
United States Naval Academy 9.1% 610 710 620 740 1230 1450
Bowdoin College 9.2% 660 740 670 770 1330 1510
Dartmouth College 9.2% 710 770 730 790 1440 1560
Northwestern University 9.3% 700 760 730 790 1430 1550
Colby College 10.3% 680 740 700 780 1380 1520
Cornell University 10.7% 680 750 720 790 1400 1540
Rice University 10.9% 710 770 750 800 1460 1570
Johns Hopkins University 11.1% 720 760 750 800 1470 1560
Tulane University of Louisiana 11.1% 650 730 690 770 1340 1500
Vanderbilt University 11.6% 720 770 750 800 1470 1570
Amherst College 11.8% 710 770 720 790 1430 1560
Claremont McKenna College 13.3% 660 730 670 770 1330 1500
United States Air Force Academy 13.4% 600 700 620 730 1220 1430
Colorado College 13.6% 630 720 610 740 1240 1460
Barnard College 13.6% 680 748 670 770 1350 1518
Bates College 14.1% 620 710 590 710 1210 1420
University of California-Los Angeles 14.3% 650 740 640 780 1290 1520
Williams College 15.1% 700 770 710 790 1410 1560
Washington University in St Louis 16.0% 720 760 760 800 1480 1560
University of Southern California 16.1% 660 740 680 790 1340 1530
Tufts University 16.3% 680 750 700 780 1380 1530
Pitzer College 16.6% 655 740 670 770 1325 1510
Georgetown University 16.8% 690 760 690 790 1380 1550
Carnegie Mellon University 17.3% 700 760 760 800 1460 1560
University of California-Berkeley 17.5% 650 740 660 790 1310 1530
Harvey Mudd College 18.0% 720 770 770 800 1490 1570
Haverford College 18.2% 670 750 690 770 1360 1520
Hamilton College 18.4% 680 750 700 760 1380 1510
University of Notre Dame 19.0% 690 760 710 790 1400 1550
Emory University 19.2% 680 740 700 790 1380 1530
Grinnell College 19.2% 670 750 683 788 1353 1538
Davidson College 20.0% 650 720 650 740 1300 1460
Boston University 20.1% 640 720 670 780 1310 1500
Wellesley College 20.4% 680 750 670 770 1350 1520
Northeastern University 20.5% 690 750 720 790 1410 1540
Wesleyan University 20.9% 670 750 670 770 1340 1520
source: IPEDS 2020, CDS 2020–21, and CDS 2021–22

Don’t see your dream school on this list? Wondering what the average SAT scores are for the rest of the colleges and universities? Check out this list of SAT score ranges at 499 colleges and universities across the country.


Average SAT scores by state

Wondering which state has the highest SAT score?

One answer might be Minnesota, where the average SAT score in 2021 was 626 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, 636 for Math, and 1263 total. This is over 200 points higher than the national average of 1060! Go Minnesota! 

Minnesota

This map shows the average total SAT scores by state. At first glance, it looks like the upper Midwest is really rocking their SATs:

map of average SAT scores by state

But before we celebrate Minnesota too much. . . it’s actually a bit more complicated!

Some states have very low participation rates for the SAT—hardly any students take the tests. (Note that participation rates have been affected in recent years by the Covid-19 pandemic, and some states that normally have nearly 100% participation are down quite a bit.)

In fact, in Minnesota only 2% of students took the SAT. As we can imagine, this skews the data a lot, because the only students taking the SAT are probably very driven and prepared. 

If we map the participation rates across the US, it looks like this:

map of SAT participation rates by state

We can see that the SAT is most commonly on the East Coast of the US, as well as Illinois, Texas, Colorado, and Idaho, and a bit on the West Coast. This makes sense, since the SAT was first used primarily by selective colleges on the East Coast, while the ACT was traditionally used more by public universities and other regions of the US.

The states with the highest participation rates are those where all high school students are required to take the SAT, like Illinois.

If we look again at the average SAT scores in each states, but only states with a participation rate greater than 10%, then the map looks more like this:

map of average SAT scores by state, states with participation rates over 10%

If we include only the states where more than 10% of students took the SAT, then the state with the highest scores is Massachusetts, where the average SAT score in 2021 was 591 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, 593 for Math, and 1184 total.

Boston, Massachusetts

The differences between states is actually most important for the PSAT, because the cutoffs for National Merit scholarships are determined separately for each state.

Check out the average score for your state here:

US StateParticipation %Reading meanMath meanTotal mean
Alabama3%5915681159
Alaska23%5675531119
Arizona11%5925891181
Arkansas2%6105841194
California24%5275301057
Colorado56%5445281072
Connecticut69%5455271072
Delaware96%499485984
District of Columbia90%500487987
Florida81%513480993
Georgia41%5515341086
Hawaii26%5725721144
Idaho90%502483985
Illinois80%5084981007
Indiana43%5515441095
Iowa2%6236201243
Kansas2%6166231219
Kentucky4%6096031207
Louisiana3%6055831188
Maine29%5585411099
Maryland47%5425311073
Massachusetts34%5915931184
Michigan68%5235081031
Minnesota2%6266361263
Mississippi1%6125891202
Missouri2%6146061219
Montana5%6186071225
Nebraska2%6256201246
Nevada4%5965981195
New Hampshire71%5405261065
New Jersey48%5625631125
New Mexico30%508488996
New York55%5265311057
North Carolina23%5785711150
North Dakota1%6316281258
Ohio15%5255231048
Oklahoma6%5355071042
Oregon17%5655541119
Pennsylvania39%5665571123
Rhode Island68%5144971011
South Carolina48%5295071036
South Dakota1%6056101215
Tennessee4%6186021220
Texas59%5054981003
Utah1%6216171238
Vermont41%5715531124
Virginia41%5845671151
Washington27%5375351072
West Virginia45%5204871007
Wisconsin1%6046111215
Wyoming2%6266071233
Puerto Riconot provided511483994
Virgin Islands, USnot provided484435920
College Board National Report 2021

How to improve your SAT score

Wondering what to do next?

If you’ve never taken the SAT before, try doing a full official SAT practice test at home to get an idea of your score. This tells you where your starting place is.

You can then use our formula to estimate how much you can reasonably expect to increase your SAT scores.

If your scores are lower, it’s easier to increase your score by a bigger amount. If your scores are already in the 700s, then it’s harder to get those final gains.

With your estimated scores, you can already get a sense of where you’d be a competitive candidate—these are schools where your SAT score would be more or less “average,” falling within the middle 50% of students. Taking into account the other aspects of your application, like GPA and extracurriculars, you can start to build your college list.

studying

Next . . . it’s time to raise those SAT scores! Boosting your test scores is one of the easiest ways to increase your admissions chances. Smart, targeted practice can make a big difference. 

In some cases, you might also want to learn or review math or grammar concepts that you either didn’t cover in high school or have forgotten. (Since the SAT covers material that some students will have covered in their middle school math classes, it’s not uncommon for students to have forgotten how to graph a polynomial function or find the measure of an angle inscribed in a circle.) 

It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the format of the test overall, and there are many test-taking strategies that one can use to take the test more efficiently and avoid trick answers.

Finally, consider whether there are any other factors that affect your test-taking abilities. Do you get nervous on test days? Do you tend to run out of time on a particular section? Do you tend to lose focus after too long trying to read long passages? There are techniques for mitigating all of these and more.

Not sure how to study more effectively, struggling with certain concepts, or just generally want some help?

standardized test

We’ve helped thousands of students boost their SAT scores with our SAT classes and one-on-one SAT tutoring. We’re happy to chat about your particular challenges.

You also might want to check out the ACT and see which test is a better fit for your strengths. You can read our comparison of the two tests and take a look at our deep dive into average ACT score data.

Once you’ve studied, it’s time to take the test!

Ideally, be strategic about when you schedule your tests.

Many students take the SAT multiple times, with between two to four times being the most common. In between each test date, learn from your experience with the previous test to study more effectively and target problem areas.

Once you know your final SAT score, revise your college list to make sure you have at least two “target” schools (where you’re in the middle 50%) and two “safety” schools (where you’re in the top 25%).

Make sure to pay attention to the other components of your college applications, too—your GPA, college essays, extracurriculars, letters of recommendation, and interview. Read more about how admissions officers read your application here.

Submit your applications your senior year of high school and relax!


Download SAT score ranges for 499 US colleges and universities

Here’s what you’ll get with this handy resource:

  • Middle 50 SAT total scores for the top 499 U.S. colleges and universities
  • Middle 50 SAT sectional scores for Reading & Writing and Math
  • Admit rate for each college
  • All based on the most recent available data (2020)

SAT score ranges for 499 schools

Bonus Material: SAT score ranges at 499 schools


Emily

Emily graduated summa cum laude of Princeton University and holds an MA from the University of Notre Dame. A veteran of the publishing industry, she has helped professors at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton revise their books and articles. Over the last decade, Emily has successfully mentored hundreds of students in all aspects of the college admissions process, including the SAT, ACT, and college application essay.