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What is a good SAT score in 2022? Discover Your Target Score 

 January 9, 2022

By  Chuky Ofoegbu

young male studying for an exam

The College Board is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1900. Their mission was simple – to expand access to higher education. That being said, the College Board is probably best known for creating the SAT.

The SAT is very important for applying to colleges, so high school students and their parents need to know the average SAT scores when they are trying to figure out what their target SAT score should be for the schools they are applying to.

In this article, we will interpret some of the data provided by the College Board to help answer the million dollar question most students and parents have: “What is a good SAT score?” 

Average SAT Scores by Year up to 2021

The SAT has gone through changes since it started. For example, the Writing section wasn’t added to the test until 2006, so up until then, scores were out of 1600. From 2006-2016 a perfect score was 2400, but then in 2017, College Board decided to combine the Critical Reading and Writing Sections into one score. 

So, as of 2017, a perfect score was once again 1600. In addition, as of 2021, the College Board is discontinuing the SAT Essay section. However, they do say that the essay is available in states where it’s required as part of SAT School Day administrations.

This means it might be hard for high school students and parents to look at the average scores throughout the years and make sense of everything, which is why we’re going to walk you through some of the data provided by College Board.

The table below includes the average SAT scores by year from 2006 to 2021:

(Sources: College Board Annual Reports 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)

Year

Math

Critical Reading

Writing

2021

528

533

2020

523

528

2019

528

531

2018

531

536

2017

527

533

2016

508

494

482

2015

511

495

484

2014

513

497

487

2013

514

496

488

2012

514

496

488

2011

514

497

489

2010

515

500

491

2009

514

499

492

2008

514

500

493

2007

514

501

493

2006

518

503

497


The table is helpful if you just want to look up the average score for the last 15+ years, but we thought it could also be good to see the data graphed out. The chart below shows the average Math and CR scores from 1972 to 2016.

What’s interesting here is that the CR scores were so much higher than the Math scores from 1972-1985, but around 1990 it looks like things switched. The average CR score ended up dropping and math went up so that in 2005 Math hit an all-time high of 520, and by 2016, CR hit a low of 494. With all this variability in scores, how is a high school student supposed to know what a good SAT score is?

The problem is that this question isn’t so simple, which is why we need to look at as much data as we can.

Average SAT scores by State

Next, we’ll dive into some of the average scores by each state in 2021. Hopefully, this will help students see how the average SAT scores vary in different areas of the country. This data came from the College Board 2021 Annual State Reports.

State

EBRW

Math

Total

Alabama

591

568

1159

Alaska

567

553

1119

Arizona

592

589

1181

Arkansas

610

584

1194

California

527

530

1057

Colorado

544

528

1072

Connecticut

545

527

1072

Delaware

499

485

984

District of Columbia

500

487

987

Florida

513

480

993

Georgia

551

534

1086

Hawaii

572

572

1144

Idaho

502

483

985

Illinois

508

498

1007

Indiana

551

544

1095

Iowa

623

620

1243

Kansas

616

623

1219

Kentucky

609

603

1207

Louisiana

605

583

1188

Maine

558

541

1099

Maryland

542

531

1073

Massachusetts

591

593

1184

Michigan

523

508

1031

Minnesota

626

636

1263

Mississippi

612

589

1202

Missouri

614

606

1219

Montana

618

607

1225

Nebraska

625

620

1246

Nevada

596

598

1195

New Hampshire

540

526

1065

New Jersey

562

563

1125

New Mexico

508

488

996

New York

526

531

1057

North Carolina

578

571

1150

North Dakota

631

628

1258

Ohio

525

523

1048

Oklahoma

535

507

1042

Oregon

565

554

1119

Pennsylvania

566

557

1123

Puerto Rico

511

483

994

Rhode Island

514

497

1011

South Carolina

529

507

1036

South Dakota

605

610

1215

Tennessee

618

602

1220

Texas

505

498

1003

Utah

621

617

1238

Vermont

571

553

1124

Virginia

584

567

1151

Virgin Islands, US

484

435

920

Washington

537

535

1072

West Virginia

520

487

1007

Wisconsin

604

611

1215

Wyoming

626

607

1233


Again, the table can be a little overwhelming with all the numbers, but we’ve also graphed out the data so you could see the states that pop out as the top scorers and the low scorers:

The three states with the highest average SAT scores in 2021 were Minnesota (1263), North Dakota (1258), and Nebraska (1246). The three states/territories with the lowest average SAT scores in 2021 were the Virgin Islands (920), Delaware (985), and Idaho (985).

The good thing about the table and the chart is that students can jump right to their location and see the average SAT scores for the most recent year.

This can be used as one benchmark for high school students and parents when applying to colleges and understanding their SAT scores.

What is a good SAT score for Ivy League Schools?

So far, we’ve looked at the average SAT scores for the general population, but what about those over-achievers? Now it’s time to dive into another common question we get from parents: “What is a good SAT score for Ivy League Schools?”

The National Center for Educational Statistics has a great college navigator tool that allows you to search for a specific college and get all the latest data. In this section, we’ll look at the 2020 data for the Ivy League colleges’ SAT scores.

 

TEST SCORES: FALL 2020 (ENROLLED FIRST-TIME STUDENTS)

School

SAT ERW 25th Percentile

SAT M 25th Percentile

SAT ERW 75th Percentile

SAT M 75th Percentile

Princeton University

710

770

740

800

Columbia University

720

770

740

800

Harvard University

720

780

740

800

Yale University

720

780

740

800

University of Pennsylvania

710

770

750

800

Dartmouth College

710

770

730

790

Brown University

710

770

730

790

Cornell University

680

750

720

790


The table shows the SAT score for the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile at each Ivy League School. The 25th percentile means that 25% of students scored below this and the 75th percentile means that 25% of students scored higher than this.

Therefore, the average is somewhere around the middle, but these are good benchmarks for students who want to make sure they’re in the right range for very competitive schools. 

However, it is important to note that Ivy League Colleges don’t make admission decisions based on SAT scores alone. There are a lot of other factors that go into these admissions decisions like the student’s essay, letters of recommendation, academic transcript, community service, and more.

Good SAT Scores for Top Colleges

There are tons of other good colleges out there, so even if you’re not aiming for the Ivy Leagues, you’ll want to make sure your SAT score is competitive for the schools you choose to apply to.

The US News provides college rankings for national universities, and those rankings can impact how “good” a school is perceived. For example, the schools that rank in the top 50 are deemed “Tier One Schools”.

As of their 2022 report, US News listed the following as the top National Universities, we can see the average SAT scores for each school:

School

US News Ranking

Average SAT Score

Princeton

1

1510

Columbia

1520

Harvard

1520

MIT

1545

Yale

5

1520

Stanford

1495

UChicago

1535

Penn

8

1515

Caltech

1555

Duke

1520

Johns Hopkins

1525

Northwestern

1490

Dartmouth

13

1500

Brown

14 

1500

Vanderbilt

14 

1520

WUSTL

14 

1520

Cornell

17 

1470

Rice

17 

1515

Notre Dame

19

1405

UCLA

20

1400


Based on the data, it looks like on average, students need to score between 1400 and 1555 to be competitive for a Tier One College. As seen in the chart, Caltech had the highest average SAT score (1555) out of the top schools and USLA had the lowest average score (1400).

How to Raise a Low SAT Score

A lot of students struggle with standardized testing, making the SAT an intimidating test. However, there are a lot of things that high schoolers can do to bump up a low SAT score. Here are some of our tips:

Find the Right Prep Book(s)

There are so many prep books out there for the SAT, and there isn’t one that is the “best”. Instead, you need to find a book that is geared towards your goals and learning style. For instance, Kaplan SAT Prep Plus is typically the best overall book for the widest range of students, but if you look at the Princeton Review SAT Premium Prep, you’ll find that the questions are more challenging and therefore can be more useful for high-achievers.

Get a Tutor

Sometimes working one-on-one with a private tutor can make all the difference. You might have all the tools you need to succeed, but you can’t put all the pieces together on your own. If you do choose to work with a tutor, it’s best to start early because last-minute cramming won’t help for the SAT.

Watch Valuable YouTube Channels

Wait – watching YouTube videos can help boost your score on the SAT?! If you’re following some of the top YouTube channels for SAT prep, like Khan Academy SAT, Magoosh SAT & ACT, or SupertutorTV, you have a good chance of increasing your SAT score. These channels provide test-taking strategies, SAT section overviews, and even a grammar crash course, to help students better prepare for the SAT and raise a low SAT score.

Make a Study Schedule

Consistency is key. If you want to raise a low SAT score, you’re going to need to commit to studying on a schedule. Now, that doesn’t mean you need to cram in three hours of studying every day, but it’s a good idea to set aside structured time for your SAT prep.

Test Yourself

If you’re trying to measure your progress, it’s important to test yourself regularly. You can use some of the official College Board SAT practice tests as a way of objectively measuring what you’ve learned between study sessions.

Take a Class

In one of our other articles, we covered the 7 Best SAT Prep Courses in 2022. In that post, we separated different prep courses into categories, like the best overall, best for budget, and most comprehensive. There’s a course out there for everyone. Decide on your goal and your preferred learning strategies and we’re sure you’ll find a great SAT prep course to help raise a low SAT score.

Frequently Asked Questions 

To conclude this article, we decided to include some of the most frequently asked questions about SAT scores.

What SAT score is required for Harvard?

While Harvard doesn’t require a minimum SAT score for admissions, according to the middle 50% of students who get into Harvard score between a 720 and 780 on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and between a 740 and 800 for the Math section. 

According to The National Center of Education Statistics, 40,248 students applied to Harvard in the Fall of 2020 and the acceptance rate was 5%. Either the SAT or the ACT is required for admissions and 72% of students submitted their SAT score in 2020.

What was Mark Zuckerberg’s SAT score?

College Vine provides a nice list of celebrity SAT scores. According to their data, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, scored 1600 on the SAT (a perfect score).

Does the SAT measure intelligence?

Even though the SAT is not the only score used for college admissions, according to the research, it does a pretty good job at measuring intelligence. This was back in 2004 and even with all the controversy, Frey and Detterman’s research still holds. However, that’s not to say that the SAT is the only measure of intelligence.

Is 1500 a good SAT score?

Based on everything we’ve reviewed, 1500 on the SAT is very good for the general public. Even when you’re looking at the Tier One schools, 1500 is within the range of the average scores. However, when you’re aiming for the Ivy Leagues, 1500 might not make you stand out to admissions counselors.

Is 1400 a good SAT score?

As we showed, in 2021 the average SAT score was 1061, which means that even 1400 is way above average. However, when we look at those average scores for Tier One schools, you’ll notice that only UCLA has an average score that low – the others are typically at least 1500. What does this mean for you? 1400 is still a good score but it ultimately depends on your target school and what other achievements you have to show for yourself when applying.

Chuky Ofoegbu


With almost a decade of experience pursuing higher education in the United States, I fully understand the pain points foreign students endure. I created this website to help foreign students successfully navigate their way through the challenges they will face while living in the United States.

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