You are currently viewing The most wealthy students have higher SAT scores.

In the present, most universities and colleges require applicants take a standardized exam, like that of the SAT and the ACT when the process of applying. This means that around 2.25 millions college students across the U.S. take the SAT every year, hoping to get scores that are that is high enough to get admission to their desired school.

In the aftermath from the Varsity Blues scandal, many are pondering the benefits that students with wealth enjoy during the application process for college, which includes the benefits they receive in the area of standardized tests.

The scandal was centered around William Rick Singer, who parents paid 25 million dollars to aid their children be admitted to elite universities and colleges by paying school officials with bribes and organizing for students to be granted additional time on tests, to have professionals conduct the tests on behalf of students, and for test proctors to correct wrong answers.

But many of the wealthier pupils Singer’s program designed to aid already had an edge over their peers.

Researchershave consistently found that students with high incomes enjoy major advantages in the college application process and that their income has a significant impact on the performance of students in exams that are standardized. In a paper published in 2013, called, ” Race, Poverty and SAT Scores,” researchers Ezekiel J. Dixon-Roman from the University of Pennsylvania and John J. Mcardle from the University of Southern California found that students with higher incomes earn more SAT scores compared to lower-income counterparts. They also found the gap of SAT scores between low- and high-income students was twice as high when comparing black students with whites.

In the words of The Washington Post, in 2014, according to the Washington Post “students from families earning more than $200,000 a year average a combined score of 1,714, while students from families earning under $20,000 a year average a combined score of 1,326.”

An analysis of 2015 by Inside Higher Ed found that for each of the three components of the SAT (reading writing, math and language) the lowest scores were for students who come from families that earn less than $20,000 of family revenue, while top scores were recorded by students who come who have families that earn at least $200,000. Inside Higher Ed says that the greatest disparities were in the reading section. In this, families with incomes less than $20,000 scored an average of 433, while those who had families with incomes of more than $200,000 scored average scores of 570.

Wealth isn’t only a factor in SAT scores only. According to a study by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, ” Born to Win, Schooled to Lose,” being wealthy from birth is more reliable indicator of achievement within the U.S. than academic performance. “To succeed in America, it’s better to be born rich than smart,” Anthony P. Carnevale, the lead author of the report said to CNBC Make It.

Here’s why wealthy students do more well on SAT:


One reason why students who are financially wealthy receive more SAT scores is that they are able to afford taking the test multiple times. This has been recognized to boost a student’s score.

The cost of taking the SAT in the school year of 2018-2019 was around $47.50 for the simple test, and $64.50 to take the test in its full essay section. For taking the SAT Subject test, applicants have to pay the $26 fee to register, $22 for each additional test, and the fee of $26 for each test of a language.

The costs could be prohibitively costly for a lot of students. Many students who are low-income receive cost-free SATs, which include two SATs for free including or without the essay, as well as the six SAT test of the subject. However, students with higher incomes are more likely to take exams that are standardized, such as that of the SAT multiple times.

Academic assistance

Students who reside in school districts that are wealthy generally attend schools with higher funding. The funding gap means that students with higher incomes are more likely to go to high schools, which will give them an advantage in college application and the standardized tests.

The most wealthy students tend attend high schools that offer an abundance of AP classes as well as more likely to be able to have the opportunity to work with instructors in addition to being more likely completed tests that are standardized and all of which have benefits that have been linked to higher scores on standardized tests.

Extra time

Children from families with higher incomes have a higher chance to be granted extra time in the standardized tests than their low-income peers.

The Wall Street Journal analyzed the data of 9,000 public schools and discovered that students who live in wealthy areas are more likely to be granted the “504 designations,” typically for students suffering from anxiety or ADHD that allow for special academic accommodations, such as additional time or a separate area for taking tests in all forms such as the SAT.

The method is so effective, Singer himself suggested families use it.

“Singer counseled parents to seek extended time on the exams, including by having their children purport to have learning disabilities in order to obtain medical documentation that ACT, Inc. and the College Board typically required before granting students extended time,” is the indictment from the Massachusetts Department of Justice.

“Test optional”

Indictment further declares it is the case that “most selective colleges in the United States require students to take a standardized test, such as the ACT or the SAT, as part of the admissions process.” Many schools do require applicants to take tests, such as the SAT however, there are increasing numbers of schools, including those like the University of Chicago, Bowdoin College and DePauw University — that have begun to shift away from having applicants to take standardized tests.

FairTest is an advocacy group that calls attention to the biases that are present in the current standardized testing process includes as many as 350 test-optional and flexible schools across the U.S. According to an investigation titled Define access to Test-Optional Schools: How it Works schools that are deemed “test optional” are able to enroll and graduate more of students who are low-income or first-generation students, as well as students with diverse backgrounds.

Some believe that standardized tests are an objective tests available to schools to evaluate student achievement and their potential.

“Standardized tests can level the playing field for low-income and rural college applicants,” writes Rich Saunders for the Chronicle of Higher Education. “Making those tests optional may blunt that benefit.”

SAT scores

What are the average scores for students taking the SAT?


The SAT is a college admissions test taken by students in high school. The average SAT score of 2023 high school seniors taking the SAT was 1028 out of 1600.

SAT mean scores of high school seniors taking the SAT, by sex and race/ethnicity: 2023
Sex and race/ethnicityMean score1
Total SAT scoreEvidence-based reading and writing (ERW)Math
All students1028520508
American Indian/Alaska Native901458443
Pacific Islander925473452
Two or more races1091556535
No response955478477

1 Possible scores on each SAT section range from 200 to 800, for a total possible score of 400 to 1600.