SAT Program Results Capture Impact of COVID on Class of 2021

Though Fewer Opportunities for Students to Test During Pandemic, 1.5 Million Students Took the SAT

New York — The 2021 SAT Suite of Assessments Program Results shows that 1.5 million students in the high school class of 2021 took the SAT at least once, down from 2.2 million in the class of 2020. Many students attempted to take the SAT but were unfortunately unable to due to widespread covid-related disruptions, with more than one million test registrations cancelled as schools and test centers had to close or reduce capacity. Despite the decline in participation due to school and test center closures, proportional representation across student subgroups was roughly similar to previous classes due in large part to SAT School Day. Students who took the SAT through SAT School Day represented a larger portion of the testing population when compared to previous years.

In response to the pandemic, College Board paused testing in March, May, and June of 2020, impacting the ability of the class of 2021 to test. When weekend testing resumed in August 2020, many local test centers closed or reduced capacity due to covid-related health and safety measures.

This fall, test center capacity is increasing as demand from students remains high amid continued impacts of the pandemic, and nearly 1.4M students from the class of 2022 have already taken the SAT at least once, with 3 weekend test dates remaining in 2021.

SAT School Day

SAT School Day—which provides schools, districts, and states a way to offer the SAT to juniors and seniors in school, on a weekday, usually at no cost to students, expanding availability—continues to serve as a driver of equity and access. Nearly 950,000 students in the class of 2021 took the SAT on a school day, slightly down from 1.1 million in the class of 2020. Overall, 62% of the class of 2021 took the SAT on a school day, compared to 49% of the class of 2020 and 43% of the class of 2019.

“Nearly one million students from all backgrounds took the SAT this year through SAT School Day,” said Priscilla Rodriguez, the College Board’s vice president, College Readiness Assessments. “In an admissions year marked by uncertainty and a school year that was so challenging for students, families, and educators, our K–12 partners across the country made it possible for their students to take the SAT safely during the school day, a testament to their commitment to giving students as many opportunities as possible to stand out on their college applications and unlock the opportunities the SAT provides.” 

Mean Scores

The average SAT score is up slightly for the class of 2021—1060 compared to 1051 for the class of 2020. In the class of 2021, 46% of SAT takers met or exceeded both the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (ERW) and Math college readiness benchmarks (slightly higher than the class of 2020), indicating a high likelihood for success in credit-bearing college coursework. Because participation numbers vary so widely from normal years due to the pandemic, it is not possible to compare performance results between the class of 2021 and previous classes.


Because of the impact of covid-19, participation in PSAT/NMSQT® was down from approximately 3.76 million for the 2020 administration to 1.85 million in 2021. PSAT-related assessments provide students benefits like connection to free, personalized practice on Khan Academy®; over $350 million in other scholarship opportunities; and information about their potential to succeed in Advanced Placement®.