The SAT is a standardized test widely used for college admissions. The SAT was originally called the Scholastic Aptitude Test and was later called the Scholastic Assessment Test. The exam is owned, developed, and published by the College Board. The exam was started in 1926 and has been used for 94 years for admissions to colleges and universities' undergraduate programs.
The SAT comprises three parts: Mathematics, Critical Reading and Writing, and an optional SAT Essay section. The exam takes about three hours to complete plus 50 minutes for the essay. As of 2019, the SAT costs $49.50 ($64.50 with the essay). Additional fees may be charged for late registration and if the exam is taken outside of the U.S. Fees can be as high as US$101.50.
The Mathematics and Critical Reading and Writing sections are scored on a scale of 200 to 800 points, combining to give a total score of 400 to 1600. Essays are scored on a scale of 2-8 on each of three criteria, totaling a score between 6 and 24.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many SATs were canceled for thousands of students, and future SATs will have very limited capacity to meet social distancing guidelines. Additionally, college admissions are trying to be as flexible as possible for students who have had their exams canceled.
In addition to college admissions, SAT scores can compare school districts' performance and evaluate state educational programs. Several factors affect SAT scores. These include:
- Educational achievement levels: instruction and institutional factors, such as teacher-to-student ratios, affect how students perform in school and on the SAT.
- Cultural factors: race, ethnicity, and culture can impact test scores for a few reasons, such as the attitude and lower expectations of minority group test-takers.
- Socioeconomic status: socioeconomic status can affect a student's regular attendance in school and the ability to buy practice and study materials for the SAT.
- Psychological factors: cognitive development factors (such as long-term memory) can impact one's ability to learn and retain information, while psychological disorders, such as anxiety or ADHD, could hinder one's ability to perform well.
SAT Scores by State
According to the College Board, the average SAT score in 2020 was 1051.
Participation rates ranged from 2% in North Dakota to 100% in eight states: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, and Rhode Island. Lower participation rates in some states can be for a few reasons, including that more students may opt to take the ACT and that only the highest-performing, most prepared students take the SAT.
Because cultural and socioeconomic factors and the quality of schools vary greatly between districts and states, average SAT scores vary greatly.
The following ten states had the highest SAT scores:
- Minnesota - 1257
- Wisconsin - 1243
- Kansas - 1237
- North Dakota - 1231
- Nebraska - 1229
- Iowa - 1220
- Wyoming - 1220
- South Dakota - 1218
- Missouri - 1212
- Kentucky - 1207
Minnesota has the highest SAT score of 1257, 206 points above the national average. Outside the top ten, highest-scoring states include Missouri, Kentucky, and Utah, which all have scores over 1200. These states have participation rates between 2% and 4%, most likely indicating that only the highest-performing students took the SAT in 2020.
The following ten states had the lowest SAT scores:
- West Virginia - 936
- Oklahoma - 971
- Delaware - 978
- Idaho - 984
- District of Columbia - 989
- Rhode Island - 990
- Florida - 992
- Maine - 995
- Michigan - 998
- Illinois - 1007
Participation rates were much higher among these states, with most states having 98% or 100% participation, except for Oklahoma, which had 20%.