Colleges With Highest SAT Scores

Students will commonly search online for information on how high their SAT score needs to be, in order to be admitted to a specific school. More often than not, these searches are time-consuming and take the focus away from preparing for the SAT itself.

For that reason, we want to provide a list of colleges with the highest SAT score averages across the board to shorten that search, and some important points to remember.

Don’t forget to take a minute and check out our various SAT prep course options today.


colleges with highest sat scores

Colleges With Highest SAT Scores Compilation

School SAT Composite Score
California Institute of Technology (Caltech) 1560
Duke University 1540
Harvard University 1540
University of Chicago 1540
Yale University 1540
Columbia University 1530
Vanderbilt University 1530
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering 1520
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 1520
Princeton University 1520
Stanford University 1520
Harvey Mudd College 1510
Johns Hopkins University 1510
Northwestern University 1510
Rice University 1510
University of Pennsylvania 1510
Washington University in St. Louis 1510
Amherst College 1500
Bowdoin College 1500
Brown University 1500
Dartmouth College 1500
Pomona College 1500
Carnegie Mellon University 1490
Swarthmore College 1490
Tufts University 1490
University of Notre Dame 1490
Webb Institute 1490
Williams College 1490
Carleton College 1480
Cornell University 1480

Adjust Your SAT Scores Accordingly

The greatest value these lists should provide you is a benchmark of what you should shoot for, depending on the type of college or university you wish to attend.

Remember that you are competing against every other student taking the SAT within a given year. While these score averages fluctuate from year to year, it’s easy to see an overall range that they fall into and adjust your own studies accordingly.


Have a strong Math section score but not so much when it comes to the revamped Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) section? No problem, at least you know where to focus your energies in terms of studying now.

You can at least find a ballpark average to shoot for when studying and practice testing. Not surprisingly, schools with the highest SAT averages are a mix between A) highly technical research universities like MIT and B) Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Columbia.

Use Percentiles To Your Advantage

A great way to find a target score for yourself is through percentiles.

Normally, an excellent SAT score falls within the 75th percentile – meaning that it is amongst the top 25% of all enrolled students in a given year. To qualify, you normally need a minimum composite score of 1200. Above 1200, you’re in great company as far as percentiles go and have a better competitive chance to get into your target schools.

On the other end, a “poor” SAT score is seen as one that falls within the 25th percentile – the bottom 25% of enrolled students in that given year. Normally, you would have to earn a composite score of 910 or lower to fall into this range.

Let’s say then that your sights are set on one of these schools but your score just doesn’t add up high enough. What can you do? The only thing you can do in that case, especially if you’ve taken the SAT multiple times already, is looking at other parts of your application to make up ground.

Thankfully, you can make up ground if, for instance, you have an incredibly high GPA and have accumulated impressive extracurricular accomplishments. Admissions boards consider applications holistically normally, such that a test score alone won’t fully make or break you.

If you do great, then the process should be easier. However, unless you have an exceptionally low score, e.g. in the 25th percentile or lower, then you have a shot. Just work to make sure you at least fall within that middle 50% percentile. If you do, then you have a fair chance of making it in.


Does High SAT Score Alone Mean ‘Elite’?

Considering these incredibly high composite scores, does that mean that these are all elite schools?

Well, on a certain level it does, but it’s not simply because the schools arbitrarily set the bar that high. Colleges and universities that offer a wide selection of robust undergraduate programs and have earned excellent public reputations over time naturally attract more academically successful and motivated applicants.

These high achievers, in turn, create impressive student bodies every year, resulting in a positive feedback loop for these schools. As a result, these schools do provide higher-level programs that warrant such test score standards but also benefit from public perception too.

It’s easy to see this when comparing scores between schools from different years, and how many of them tend to creep higher year over year. This loop is perfectly illustrated by the saying, “…a rising tide floats all boats.”

Math vs EBRW Score

What’s interesting to note is that for many of these high composite score students, the Math averages tend to be higher than the Evidence-based Reading and Writing (EBRW) scores.

This imbalance is often attributed to the heavy STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) focus that many of these schools have in their undergraduate programs, especially if they’re heavily involved in research, e.g. MIT.

For schools in that category, admissions officers may place higher premiums on those Math scores over the EBRW average, because they shed more light on an applicant’s mathematical and scientific aptitude. A standard liberal arts-centric institution is more likely to look at your score more holistically. When looking at these schools and their scores, don’t forget that you should be considering institutions that fit you the best.


Just because it’s prestigious doesn’t mean a Yale or Harvard will give you the best college experience and education. Look at schools with programs that coincide with your interests and passions, especially if those attributes tie into your future career goals.

What ‘Competitiveness’ Actually Means

One more point to consider, just because a school has a high SAT composite average amongst its student body doesn’t automatically equate to competitiveness.

That metric is defined by an institution’s acceptance rate – the ratio of applicants versus open spots in a given class. The more students go after an increasingly limited number of spots per class, the lower a school’s acceptance rate will be thus increasing competitiveness.

Many of the schools listed here are among the nation’s most competitive, some with acceptance rates below 10%. However, this list does not comprise every single school with low acceptance rates, so remember, a high SAT composite score does not automatically guarantee admission.

How Prep Expert Can Help Your SAT Score

Now that we’ve discussed which schools have the highest average scores, let’s discuss how we can help you get one of those scores yourself.

Just because you have a high mountain to climb doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to do. It’s always possible to do well on the SAT if you go into it prepared and confident. At Prep Expert, our various SAT courses are designed to give you that level of confidence on test day.

Our proven strategies, taught by 99th percentile-scoring instructors, have helped students both get into the schools of their dreams and secure lucrative scholarships. The best part? We provide assistance year-round and always stay up-to-date with the latest test updates.

If you would like to learn more today, then be sure to check out one of our upcoming classes now or contact us by phone or email to get the answers you need.


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