Which States Have the Highest GPAs and SAT Scores?
A high school graduate’s GPA is one of the most important factors affecting their college admission options, followed closely at many schools by their standardized test scores. GPAs are typically run on a four-point scale — scoring a 4.0 means straight A’s, a 3.0 indicates a B average, a 2.0 equates to a C average, and so on. Traditionally, the best-known standardized test is the SAT. Possible SAT scores range from 400 to 1600, split between the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section and the Math section. According to The College Board, the national average SAT score for 2017 was 1060 (533 Reading and 527 Math).
With college application season winding down and graduation season approaching, Insurify’s data scientists decided to investigate how high school GPAs vary from one state to another. While state-specific SAT performance data is readily available, GPA data is not. To complete the analysis, Insurify used its proprietary dataset of over 1.3 million auto insurance applications in which relevant applicants were asked questions about educational performance. The results show that the average GPA for students nationwide is 3.23, but the results vary widely across individuals and states. At the state level, GPAs range from 3.48 to 2.99. The following states have the highest average GPAs nationwide.
Insurify provides car insurance quotes based on customers’ answers to questions about driving history, vehicle type, and other personal data. Insurify has processed over 1.3 million total auto insurance applications to date. The GPA data in this article is based on a sample set of 40,000 high school students who submitted their GPAs to the Insurify website. All data has been anonymized. Information on SAT scores was provided by the The College Board, while high school graduation percentages were drawn from 2015-2016 data (the most recent available) provided by the National Center for Education Statistics.
- Average GPA: 3.32
- Average SAT score: 1017 (520 Reading, 497 Math)
- High school graduation rate: 80.7%
Florida residents do quite well in high school, with an average GPA of 3.32, which equates to a B+ average. The rest of their educational statistics aren’t quite as strong, though: the state’s average SAT score of 1017 lags well behind the national average of 1060, and Florida’s high school graduation rate of 80.7% is also below the national average of 84.1%.
- Average GPA: 3.32
- Average SAT score: 1228 (623 Reading, 604 Math)
- High school graduation rate: 88.5%
Tennessee residents do quite well in high school, with an average GPA of 3.32 – that equates to a B+ average. The state’s average SAT scores are also very high, but with a caveat: only 5% of Tennessee residents take the SAT, with the remainder either taking the ACT or foregoing standardized tests altogether. This suggests that only the top Tennessee high schoolers take the SAT at all, which likely skews the results higher. Finally, Tennessee’s high school graduation rate falls comfortably above the national average of 84.1%.
- Average GPA: 3.35
- Average SAT score: 1020 (513 Reading, 507 Math)
- High school graduation rate: 89.1%
Texans can be proud of their average high school GPA of 3.35, which reflects a B+ average grade. On the other hand, the state’s average SAT score is well below the national average of 1060. Still, since the majority of Texan high schoolers are taking the test (62%, to be specific), that average likely reflects a wide range of students, from devoted scholars to less motivated teens. Texas also enjoys a very good high school graduation rate; in fact, it’s the fifth-highest rate nationwide and the second-highest on this list.
- Average GPA: 3.36
- Average SAT score: 1107 (555 Reading, 551 Math)
- High school graduation rate: 87.5%
Massachusetts is home to the famous Harvard University, a member of the Ivy League and one of the top universities in the nation; perhaps that’s rubbed off on local high schoolers. The average GPA of 3.36 reflects a solid B+ average, and the state’s average SAT score of 1107 is well above the national average even though a full 76% of its high schoolers take the test. Massachusetts’ graduation rate is also comfortably above average, giving the state’s teenagers plenty to be proud of.
- Average GPA: 3.36
- Average SAT score: 1115 (559 Reading, 556 Math)
- High school graduation rate: 85.5%
Illinois is the second of three states whose high schoolers have an average GPA of 3.36. The state’s average SAT score of 1115 is a little less impressive given that only 9% of the state’s residents take the test. Still, with an average GPA, SAT score, and graduation rate all above national average, Illinois’ high schoolers are clearly working hard and taking their educations seriously.
- Average GPA: 3.36
- Average SAT score: 1102 (561 Reading, 541 Math)
- High school graduation rate: 86.7%
Virginia rounds off the three-way tie between states boasting an average GPA of 3.36. The average SAT score of 1102 is actually quite impressive given that 65% of Virginian high schoolers take the test, and the state’s 86.7% high school graduation rate is far from shabby. It’s no wonder that the Virginia Department of Education reports that 72% of the state’s graduating class of 2015 went on to enroll in an institution of higher education.
4. North Carolina
- Average GPA: 3.37
- Average SAT score: 1081 (546 Reading, 535 Math)
- High school graduation rate: 85.9%
North Carolina comes in fourth on the list of states with high average GPAs; the state’s average is 3.37, which equates to a solid B+ average. North Carolina’s SAT scores are not quite so impressive, as they are just slightly above the national average. On the other hand, the state’s SAT participation rate is fairly high, with 49% of high schoolers taking this test. Finally, North Carolina’s high school graduation rate is a comfortable 85.9%.
- Average GPA: 3.42
- Average SAT score: 1242 (634 Reading, 607 Math)
- High school graduation rate: 82.3%
Mississippi’s high schoolers turned out an impressive performance overall. The state’s average GPA is 3.42, which is a high B+. Its average SAT score is an impressive 1242, the highest of any state on this list — with the caveat that a mere 2% of Mississippi’s high schoolers took the test. Unfortunately, the state’s high school graduation rate is not so impressive — at 82.3%, it’s the second lowest of any state on this list.
2. West Virginia
- Average GPA: 3.44
- Average SAT score: 1086 (558 Reading, 528 Math)
- High school graduation rate: 89.8%
The penultimate state on the GPA average list, West Virginia, demonstrates some remarkable figures with regards to education. Not only is the state’s average GPA an impressive 3.44, but its high school graduation rate is the highest of all the states on this list. Compared to those numbers, West Virginia’s average SAT score of 1086 is somewhat less remarkable, but still above the national average. Interestingly, with a 30-point difference between its Reading and Math scores, West Virginia shows the largest spread of any state on this list.
1. South Carolina
- Average GPA: 3.48
- Average SAT score: 1064 (543 Reading, 521 Math)
- High school graduation rate: 82.6%
South Carolina’s teenagers have much to be proud of, including their average GPA. At 3.48, it’s the highest average GPA on this list. The state’s average SAT scores come in just above the national average, at 1064. Unfortunately, the percentage of high school graduates in this state is somewhat below average at 82.6%.