What Is an Average Score on the SAT or ACT?

The SAT and ACT are standardized tests to help colleges (and students) determine how well prepared they are to enter college. SAT and ACT scores will greatly affect your ability to be admitted to specific schools so a lot of pressure is put on students to perform well.

Luckily, you can take the SAT or ACT tests multiple times. For this reason, it’s a good idea to take a test early in your junior year to see what all the fuss is about and to better understand the types of questions you’ll encounter. As you take the test a few times your score should trend upward.

 You may want to take the SAT and ACT multiple times to see if you can improve your score.

You may want to take the SAT and ACT multiple times to see if you can improve your score.


According to PBS.org’s Frontline report, the Scholastic Aptitude Test was first given to students in 1926 as a way to measure intelligence for college applicants. First used at Harvard and later expanded to other schools participating in the College Board, the test became widely adopted and used by 1948. Today, the College Board – a non-profit organization creates and maintains the test.

While many iterations of the test have existed, today, the test is scored on a scale of 200 to 800 points and consists of two major sections – “Evidence-Based Reading” and Mathematics. Two scores are given and added together to get your SAT score. Thus, there is a maximum of 1600 points. In addition to a score, you will also see a percentile next to your score indicating the percent of students you performed better than.

According to data published by the College Board the average SAT score for 2017 was 1060 with an average score in reading of 533 and an average score of 527 for mathematics.

You can get a percentile based breakdown of SAT scores in the “Understanding SAT Scores” document from the College Board. From here you can get an idea of how well you performed based on the score you get. For example, if you have a composite score of 1160, you will have performed better than 69% of other SAT test takers.


The ACT or American College Test was originally published in 1959 as a competitor to the highly popular SAT. For the first time, in 2011, the number of students taking the ACT was greater than the number of students taking the SAT. The popularity of the ACT has grown ever since then with approximately 2 million high school students taking the ACT in 2017.

The ACT consists of four major sections – each graded on a 36 point scale. A composite grade is then obtained by averaging the four scores. The four sections consist of English, Math, Reading and Science and an optional writing test. Together, the entire test takes three hours and 35 minutes – including the writing test.

According to ACT’s National Profile report, students graduating in 2017 had an average composite score of 21. Students had an average score of 20.3 in English, 20.7 in Mathematics, 21.4 in Reading, and 21 in Science. Like the SAT, ACT breaks down scores by percent of students who are below that score. In order to be near the 70th percentile, you must have a score of 23 or 24.

What Does My Score Mean?

You may ask “what is a good SAT score”, but this will depend on the college you want to attend. A good SAT or ACT score for one school may be lower than what another school desires. Thankfully, with College Factual, you can see what the average SAT or ACT score is for any school. Just search for a school, click the “Applying” tab and then “Entering Class Stats”.

You can then use your scores to determine if a school is within your reach. We usually recommend applying to schools that are a bit out of your range, a few schools within range and a few schools you are over qualified for. This will give you a few options to consider.

Be sure to create a profile on CollegeFactual.com so you can input your preferences and let College Factual find the best school and major matches for you.