Average SAT Scores – What Does the Average Student Score on the SAT?

Photograph of a high school student

Source: Flickr user cityyear.

As tens of thousands of students around the country receive their SAT scores, one of the first questions that many of them ask seems simple: How does my score compare to the scores of other students? And next: how does that compare to the “average” SAT score?

The College Board publishes a distribution of the SAT scores from all students. So, in a broader sense, students can at least get a general idea of how their score compares to all other students who took the test.

However, in reality, your score doesn’t matter so much in comparison to all other students, but perhaps the most relevant question to ask is how does it stack up against other students who are admitted to the colleges you’re planning to apply to?

Colleges and universities around the country do publish this kind of information. Generally, they report the 25th and 75th percentile SAT scores of all students admitted in a given year. So, while these aren’t “minimum” SAT score requirements (very few colleges have published minimums), they do give you an idea of what the admissions officers may be expecting for an SAT score of a prospective student. This can help you see what your acceptance odds might look like.

Median SAT Scores – National “Average” SAT Scores

The College Board publishes a breakdown of all students’ scores on the SAT each year.

Rather than publishing an “average” SAT score specifically, they publish a chart that shows the percentile rankings of each different score range. What this means is that a student can find their SAT score on the chart and it will tell them both what percentage of students they scored higher than (their percentile ranking) as well as an approximation of what percentage of all students scored within their range (by subtracting the percentile).

SAT Percentiles for 2022:

SAT Composite Score (Out of 1600)Percentile

As an example, in this case, you can see that composite scores of 1450-1500 have a percentile ranking of 96 to 98, which means that if you scored within this range, you scored higher than approximately 96 to 98% of all students.

Therefore, the 50th percentile falls between the scores of 1000 and 1050, which is the “average” SAT score.

“Average” ACT Scores at Each College

What may be more relevant to you as a student is not how you compare to all students who took the SAT, but how you compare to students who are applying to the same college as you.

“Is my SAT score good enough to get into UCLA?” you might be asking yourself.

If you want to get an idea for how your score compares, and an idea of what your admissions chances might be, then you can look at the distribution of SAT scores within a single college.

On College Raptor, we publish the 25th and 75th percentile SAT scores for all colleges that report it, so you can see how your score stacks up. Keep in mind that, again, these are not truly “average” SAT scores. Instead, they show you how about half of the admitted students scored. Based on this data, you can see that 50% of all students score somewhere within this range. But, it’s not a rigid guideline. Half of the students score outside of this range–about 25% higher and 25% lower.

Here are some examples:

University of California Los Angeles average SAT scores

SAT score distribution at University of California at Los Angeles

(via College Raptor)

Rice University’s average ACT scores

SAT score distribution at Rice University

(via College Raptor)

Roanoke College average SAT scores

SAT score distribution at Roanoke College

(via College Raptor)

Understanding the average SAT scores nationally and at your potential colleges can help you set your own goals for the exam. You’ll know what you have to shoot for. Which can give you the motivation you need to do better on the test. Aim for beyond the “minimum” or “average” though! Going beyond is just one of the many things colleges look for in their applicants.

Want to see how your SAT (or ACT) scores stack up against other students that were recently admitted to your potential colleges? Get started with College Raptor’s College Match tool to get all the data. You can also search for individual colleges using the search tool!