Due to COVID-19, many schools made the SAT an optional part of admissions. Despite this, many students have continued to prep for the standardized test in hopes that it would boost their chances of getting into a selective school.
If you’re thinking of taking the SAT, it’s a good idea to set a target score for yourself. One way of doing this is by researching the colleges with the highest SAT score averages and seeing where they fall on your list of target, reach, or dream schools.
This post will take a dive into the details of the SAT, reveal the schools that have the highest SAT score averages, and also provide some tips on how you can score the highest SAT score possible.
Overview of the SAT Score
The SAT is scored from a point system of 400 to 1600. That being said, there’s a lot more that goes into the SAT than just the final number you get.
On the official SAT score report from the College Board, you’ll find your total score and section scores (what admissions officers will consider when looking at your file). You’ll also find numerous subscores that analyze your proficiencies. These are more important for your own learnings and to help you improve.
Here’s what each part of the score report means:
- Total score (400 – 1600): This is the sum of your two section scores and what is known as your “SAT score”.
- Section scores (200 – 800): There is 1 score of the Math section, and 1 score for the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section. They score how will you did on each category respectively and can tell you if there are any important discrepancies in your math skills and your literature skills.
- Test scores (10 – 40): There is 1 score for Math, 1 score for Reading, and 1 score for Writing and Language. This is the individual score you get in each category. The Reading score and Writing score are each weighted less than the Math score.
- Cross-test scores (10 – 40): These scores are based on questions from the test that target specific subjects. They can serve as a useful indicator of which topics you need the most work on.
- Subscores (1 – 15): These are an even more in-depth breakdown of how well you did in certain categories including: expression of ideas, problem solving and data analysis, command of evidence, etc.
Though the final SAT score you get is important, there’s plenty of other information that’s available to you in the score report which you might benefit from taking note of.
What is the Highest SAT Score You Can Get
The highest possible SAT score you can get is acquired by scoring an 800 in the math section and an 800 in the Reading and Writing section to reach a composite total of 1600. The lowest, on the other hand, is 400.
Taking a look at College Board’s 2021 total group report, you can see the national SAT average scores (2021):
- Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 533
- Math: 528
- Total: 1060
The raw-score breakdown if you’re trying to get 1600 looks something like this:
- Reading: 51-52 right out of 52 questions
- Writing: 44 right out of 44 questions
- Math: 56-58 right out of 58 questions
Here are a few different data points, benchmarks, and score ranges for the 2020 new SAT scores:
- 25th Percentile: 870 – 880
- 50th Percentile: 1010
- 75th Percentile: 1150-1160
All SAT Takers
- 25th Percentile: 900
- 50th Percentile: 1050
- 75th Percentile: 1200-1210
College and Universities with the Highest SAT Score Averages
Here’s a list of the colleges and universities with the highest SAT score averages:
- Georgetown University: 1450
- Grinnell College: 1460
- Tufts University: 1465
- Pomona College: 1465
- Northeastern University: 1465
- Swarthmore College: 1470
- University of Notre Dame: 1475
- Williams College: 1479
- Cornell University: 1480
- Amherst College: 1480
- Webb Institute: 1480
- Brown University: 1485
- Northwestern University: 1495
- Dartmouth College: 1500
- University of Pennsylvania: 1500
- Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering: 1501
- Stanford University: 1505
- Princeton University: 1505
- Vanderbilt University: 1505
- Rice University: 1505
- Duke University: 1510
- Carnegie Mellon University: 1510
- Columbia University: 1510
- Yale University: 1515
- Johns Hopkins University: 1515
- Washington University in St. Louis: 1520
- University of Chicago: 1520
- Harvard University: 1520
- Harvey Mudd College: 1530
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): 1535
- California Institute of Technology (Caltech): 1545
How to Improve on the SAT and Get Your Own Personal Highest SAT Score
Though the preparation process for the SAT varies from person to person, there are some tips you can implement that could potentially boost your score:
- Read Smart and Complex Articles: pick and choose articles out of New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The New York Review of Books to read and analyze. When reading, try not to just take in the information, but really ask questions about the text. Doing this will sharpen your critical reading skills and prepare you for the reading test portion of the SAT. Typically, the reading test is where most students lose the most points.
- Learn English Grammar RULES: if English is your first language, you’ll be tempted to just go by “feel” on the SAT writing section (aka grammar section). Unfortunately, this is simply not enough. To maximize improvement in the shortest amount of time, I suggest learning the actual rules that feed into your instinctive “feel” of English. Not only will this boost your SAT writing score, but it will also improve your actual writing skills.
- Do as many SAT practice tests as you can: practice tests provide you with an actual feel of how the actual SAT will go. Do as many real, full-length, timed tests as you can before taking the actual SAT. Khan Academy offers 8 of them (these are the closest to real SAT I’ve found), and you can find many more in Barron’s books, Ivy Global, and Princeton Review. Practice tests and practice questions are some of the best ways to boost your SAT score (just make sure you do them for the ‘new SAT’ and not the old one).
- Get familiar with multiple choice: the majority of questions on the SAT are multiple choice, so it’s beneficial to know how to efficiently eliminate answers and arrive at the right choice. The SAT is a timed test after all. You’ll want to be able to use any advantage at your disposal.
Recap: Colleges and Universities with the Highest SAT Score
Though the SAT is no longer optional at many universities, high school students trying to get into top schools consistently sign up and take the age old test.
If you’re one of these students, you’ll want to set a target SAT score for yourself as this will help to guide your studying and also help you get the score you actually want. This post has provided you with some of the colleges and universities with the highest SAT score averages to give you some ballpark estimates of what you might want to shoot for.
As long as you put time into developing your study plan and actually put in the work, you’re sure to end up where you belong. Happy studying!
Jeff is a Harvard 2025 student passionate about making smart financial decisions both in school and in the workplace so that he can spend more time doing what he loves (like playing golf, spending time with family, and travelling). He has experience working in the financial industry and enjoys sharing all things personal finance, academic, and golf-related. Outside of blogging, he loves to cook, read, and golf in his spare time.