The top Texas high schools by highest average SAT/ACT score: the buildings of the School for the Gifted and Talented and LASA High School.

School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas (left) and LASA High School in Austin (right) earned the highest average composite scores in Texas on the ACT and SAT, respectively.

The average SAT score for Texas high school juniors is a 1001 out of 1600, and the average ACT score is a 20 out of 36. These scores compare favorably to national results which were 1028 for the SAT and 20 for the ACT. About 64% of the Texas graduating class of 2022 took the SAT, and 22% took the ACT. 

Out of the 673 Texas schools with an SAT participation rate of 75% or higher, LASA High School (Liberal Arts and Science Academy) in Austin, TX earned the highest average composite score (1425). Spring Branch Academic Institute in Houston also scored higher than 1400 (1402), and Basis San Antonio-Shavano (1390), Carnegie Vanguard in Houston (1372), and School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas (1370) came in third through fifth place.

As for the ACT—the School for the Talented and Gifted scored a 29.2 composite, the highest of the 288 Texas high schools who tested 75% or more students. Dallas-area schools clutched the top 3—School of Science and Engineering scored a 27.2, and Uplift Education–North Hills in Irving scored a 26.5. Meridian World School in Round Rock (near Austin) earned a 24.9, and Young Women’s Leadership Academy in San Antonio came in fifth place with a 23.9.

SAT or ACT scores can be an effective indicator of student college and career readiness. Since the best high schools are the ones that adequately prepare students for higher education or a career, test scores are a revealing metric if you’re looking for the top schools in a state. This article looks into general trends in the most recently available Texas SAT and ACT scores, focusing on the best schools across the Lone Star State!

Texas ACT and SAT Scores vs National Averages

Texas does not have statewide testing requirements for either college admissions exam, although the state has a clear preference for the SAT. Of the Texas class of 2022, 64% students took the SAT while 22% took the ACT. Compared to other states, Texas is #15 in the nation when it comes to SAT participation rates (and in the bottom 50% for the ACT). 

In general, states with higher test participation levels tend to have lower average scores because they’re assessing all students and not just college-bound students applying to selective schools. 

With this context, Texas (64% participation, 1001) outscored just 10 states on the SAT, all of which tested more than 80% of students (except Oklahoma, which tested 17%). Texas’ average ACT composite of 19.8, matching the national average, outscored 18 states. Among states with similar participation rates for both the SAT and ACT, Texas generally scored on the lower end this year. 

These class of 2022 figures are from the most recent data available from the TEA. 2023 data will not be available until November 2024 at the earliest.

Texas College and Career Readiness Benchmarks

The SAT and ACT each provide College and Career Readiness Benchmarks (CRBs) as a way to interpret test scores. Simply put, CRBs are the scores on each subject area test that indicate a student’s chance of college success. 

SAT Benchmarks 

When a student meets both SAT CRBs for the Reading & Writing and Math tests, they are considered college-ready in both subjects.

According to the College Board, students that meet or exceed the SAT Math benchmark score have a 75% chance of earning a C or higher in their first-college-semester math courses. The same goes for students that meet or exceed the Reading and Writing benchmark for their first semester humanities courses (such as history, literature, or social sciences). These benchmark scores are:

  • Reading and Writing: 480
  • Math: 530

ACT Benchmarks

The ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks are the scores (out of 36) on each of the four ACT subject area tests indicating preparedness for college-level courses of those topics.

The ACT believes that meeting the CRB for English, Reading, Mathematics, and Science gives a student a 50% chance of earning a B or higher or a 75% chance of getting a C or higher in a corresponding freshman-level college course. Unchanged since 2013, these benchmark scores are:

  • English: 18
  • Reading: 22
  • Math: 22
  • Science: 23

The ACT also provides a CRB for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) based on scores on the Math and Science tests, which indicates a 50% chance of earning a B or higher in college STEM classes. This STEM score is 26, significantly higher than scores of other subject areas because of the rigor of college STEM coursework.

Are Texas Students College-Ready?

With an average SAT score of 1001, only about 60% of Texans are considered college ready according to SAT CRBs. The state’s average score is about five incorrect answers behind the national average (1050)—here’s what that indicates about college readiness in the state.

Above: Percent of Texas students (teal) compared to the nation (blue) meeting SAT College Readiness Benchmarks (College Board SAT Annual Reports).

With an average SAT Math score of 495 and an average Evidence-Based Reading & Writing score of 506, Texans are slightly behind national averages when it comes to meeting SAT CRBs, around 7-8% behind in each subject. Close to 60% of Texans met the Reading & Writing CRB while only 36% met the Math benchmark; concerningly, 40% of testers met neither benchmark.

Above: Percent of Texas students meeting SAT College Readiness Benchmarks (in each subject and neither CRB), 2017-2022 (College Board SAT Annual Reports).

Though Texan SAT takers are scoring behind the nation, their performance this year indicates some improvement from the national decline in test scores over the past several years. The amount of testers meeting the Reading and Writing CRB in 2022 was a notable improvement from 2021, back up to 2018 figures. The same can’t be said for Texans’ SAT Math scores, since 2% fewer students met the Math CRB this year than last. Still, that is a slower decline than between 2018-19, and the amount of students who met neither CRB didn’t increase for the first time since 2018.

How do ACT–Takers Fare?

Meanwhile, Texans in the same graduating class met ACT CRBs at percentages on-par with national averages: the same percentage of students met the Reading CRB in Texas and nationally (41%), and 1% more Texans met the Math CRB (32%), the Science CRB (33%), and all four CRBs (23%) than the average of US ACT takers. Texas students are only behind the average by one percentage point for the English CRB (52%). (The state is also ahead by 1-5 percentage points in each subject when compared to its neighbors in the South.)

The number of Texans deciding to take this exam has declined by more than half over the last eight years—46% of the Texas class of 2016 took the ACT (almost 150,000 students). Texas’ 2022 ACT test-takers were a group of just under 90,000 whose scoring reflected the abilities of motivated students who decide to undergo the ACT (and dedicate time to test-prep). As such, exhibiting college-readiness on-par with the country on average is good but expected.

Above: Percent of Texas students meeting ACT College Readiness Benchmarks (in each subject and for 0 CRBs met), 2016-2022 (ACT Data Visualization Tool—Scores and Benchmarks).

How do 2022 students compare to their pre-pandemic counterparts? ACT scores in Texas have gradually decreased since 2017—the amount of students achieving zero out of four CRBs has risen 6% by now, surpassing 40% in 2020. 5% fewer students reached the Reading CRB and 10% fewer students did the same for math since 2016. Student’s performance on CRBs unique to the ACT (Science and English) had just a 2% decrease across these eight years.

These reading and math shortfalls across both the SAT and ACT are not surprising—students across the nation are scoring lower in those key subjects than they have in decades, indicating worrisome learning loss.

Texas SAT Scores Show Achievement Gaps

Sadly, one of the biggest indicators of college admissions test success is one over which students have no control: their racial and socioeconomic background.

Nationally, Asian Americans have the highest rates of success on standardized tests, followed by white students. Students who identify as Black score the lowest, and Hispanic students and students of other races score somewhere in the middle. This is not a causative relationship. Black students do not score worse than white students, on average, because they are Black; rather, many factors which negatively impact college admissions test scores tend to disproportionately affect non-white (and non-Asian) students. 

This correlation between race and test scores manifests in Texas SAT (and ACT) scores. Mirroring national numbers, while 50% of white students and 72% of Asian students met both SAT CRBs, only 20% of Hispanic students and 18% of Black students did the same. The fact that 50% of Hispanic students met neither benchmark while making up a significant 44% of the SAT-takers’ population in Texas shows a concerning disparity in education across the state.

Above: Texas versus national average SAT scores by family income, 2022 (College Board SAT Annual Reports). (Lowest quintile: <$53,263; 2nd lowest: <$69,092; middle quintile: <$86,074; 2nd highest: <$113,340; highest quintile: >$113,341).

The correlation between economic situation and test scores is just as visible in Texas as it is nationwide. The scoring difference between the lower three quintiles is not as severe in Texas as it is on average for the country, but a difference of 200 points between the lowest and highest income quintiles is a concerning gap. 

How to Improve ACT and SAT Scores

Any student, regardless of their background, can improve their chances of college admissions test success. If you want to excel on your ACT/SAT, these actions are statistically likely to improve your scores:

  1. Focus on schoolwork and take academically challenging classes. Students who already do well in school nearly always do better on standardized tests. Make sure you work hard in your reading and math classes (especially Algebra I & Algebra II).
  2. Spend time preparing specifically for your test. Taking practice tests helps students familiarize themselves with the content and the format of the test, providing feedback on strengths and weaknesses. 
  3. Learn from your mistakes. The majority of your test prep should be re-learning what you’ve forgotten—most ACT/SAT topics are ones you’ve already learned in school.
  4. Learn basic test-taking strategies. Get familiar with testing skills like time management and question prioritization. Test-taking strategies can help you work through your exam efficiently and avoid running out of time.
  5. Take the test more than once. There is a clear statistical advantage to retesting, so make sure to retake your test at least once. In 2022, the average composite score of Texas students who took the ACT more than once is a full 5 points ahead of those who took the exam only once. (Look into fee waivers if the cost prevents your retake.)

Most Popular Texas Colleges for SAT Examinees

Just under 70% of Texas students who took the SAT sent their college reports to institutions. They overwhelmingly sent them to in-state public colleges—the top private schools of choice were Baylor University (11.1% of score senders) and Rice University (5.5%). Texans’ top five selections were:

  1. Texas A&M University
  2. University of Texas at Austin
  3. Texas Tech University
  4. University of Houston
  5. Texas State University

While good SAT scores make any student an attractive candidate, most on this list still consider students without any test scores. The exceptions are the University of Texas, which just now reinstated their standardized test requirement for Fall 2025 applicants, and Texas State University, which doesn’t require test scores for students in the top 75% of their class.

For Texans, class rank may be more important than test scores when it comes to in-state college admissions—TX House Bill 588 requires each public university in Texas to have an automatic admission policy for students who meet certain academic requirements. The most popular schools only consider class rank: A&M auto-admits applicants in the top 10% of their class, while UT Austin’s automatic admissions are exclusive to those in the top 6%.

For students who aren’t at the very top of their class, test scores can provide an opportunity to secure in-state admissions. The remaining top 5 schools all have more inclusive policies, auto-admitting top 10% students as well as top 25%, 50%, or even 75% students that reach certain SAT/ACT scores.

Top High Schools in Texas by SAT Score

Two high schools in Texas achieved an impressive average composite SAT score over 1400, while five others earned a score over 1300. The following table presents data from the 673 Texas high schools with a participation rate of 75% or higher (and for which full data was available). Scores presented here are from then-11th graders who took the SAT in 2021. 

  1. The Liberal Arts and Science Academy, Austin (LASA) (1425)
  2. Spring Branch Academic Institute, Houston (1402)
  3. BASIS San Antonio Shavano, San Antonio (1390)
  4. Carnegie Vanguard HS, Houston (1372)
  5. School for the Talented and Gifted, Dallas (1370)
  6. School of Science and Engineering, Dallas (1321)
  7. Westlake Academy, Westlake (1306)
  8. DeBakey HS for Health Professionals, Houston (1275)
  9. Clements HS, Sugar Land (1275)
  10. Coppell HS, Coppell (1264)

How to Read This Sortable Table:

  • This data is ordered by composite score from highest to lowest; change the sorting order by selecting the header by which you want to sort.
  • “Composite” is the average composite SAT score from 0 to 1600.
  • “ERW” and “Math” refer to the school’s average scores in each SAT subject, Reading & Writing and Math, from 0 to 800.
wdt_ID School District Total ERW Math % Tested
1 Lasa HS Austin ISD 1425 715 710 100
2 Spring Branch Academic Institute Spring Branch ISD 1402 688 714 83
3 Basis San Antonio-Shavano Campus Basis Texas 1390 694 696 100
4 Carnegie Vanguard HS Houston ISD 1372 682 690 100
5 School for the Talented and Gifted Dallas ISD 1370 683 687 100
6 School of Science and Engineering Dallas ISD 1321 642 679 100
7 Westlake Academy Westlake Academy Charter School 1306 646 660 79
8 DeBakey HS for Health Prof Houston ISD 1275 631 645 100
9 Clements HS Fort Bend ISD 1275 627 647 88
10 Coppell HS Coppell ISD 1264 624 640 89
11 Great Hearts Northern Oaks Great Hearts Texas 1263 635 627 100
12 Westwood HS Round Rock ISD 1263 626 637 97
13 Westlake HS Eanes ISD 1263 630 634 88
14 Carroll Senior HS Carroll ISD 1256 621 636 90
15 Great Hearts Irving Upper Great Hearts Texas 1252 636 616 100
16 Imagine International Academy Imagine International Academy 1240 629 610 100
17 Kinder HS for Performing Houston ISD 1232 638 594 93
18 Founders Classical Academy Texas College Preparatory 1225 629 596 100
19 Seven Lakes HS Katy ISD 1224 608 616 95
20 Lebanon Trail HS Frisco ISD 1224 606 619 92
21 Liberty HS Frisco ISD 1220 604 617 97
22 Founders Classical Academy Texas College Preparatory 1219 625 594 88
23 Health Careers HS Northside ISD 1208 612 596 100
24 Centennial HS Frisco ISD 1207 598 609 98
25 South Texas ISD Science Academy South Texas ISD 1205 602 603 94
School District Total ERW Math % Tested

Top High Schools in Texas by ACT Score

Four high schools accomplished an average composite of 30 or higher on the ACT in 2022. This table presents data from the 288 Texas high schools (with a participation rate of 75% or higher) for which full data was available. These scores are from the Class of 2022, who took the ACT in 2021.

Top 10 Texas High Schools by ACT Score:

  1. School for the Talented and Gifted, Dallas (29.2)
  2. School of Science and Engineering, Dallas (27.2)
  3. Uplift Education-North Hills, Irving (26.5)
  4. Meridian World School, Round Rock (24.9)
  5. Young Women’s Leadership Academy, San Antonio (23.9)
  6. Nazareth School, Nazareth (23.6)
  7. Falls City HS, Falls City & Wall HS, Wall (22.4)
  8. Klondike ISD, Lamesa & Guthrie School, Allen (22.1)
  9. Irma Rangel Young Women’s, Dallas (21.9)
  10. Brookesmith School, Brookesmith (21.8)

How to Read This Sortable Table:

  • This data is ordered by composite score from highest to lowest; change the sorting order by selecting the header by which you want to sort.
  • “Avg Score” is the school’s average composite ACT score (0-36).
  • “English,” “Reading,” “Math,” and “Science” refers to the school’s average scores in each subject test (0-36).
wdt_ID School District Composite English Math Reading Science % Tested
1 School for the Talented and Gifted Dallas ISD 29.2 30.0 28.6 29.9 27.7 85
2 School of Science and Engineering Dallas ISD 27.2 26.0 28.8 27.1 26.5 86
3 Uplift Education-North Hills Uplift Education 26.5 26.9 24.6 28.3 25.8 90
4 Meridian World School LLC Meridian World School LLC 24.9 24.8 23.3 26.3 24.7 94
5 Young Women's Leadership Academy San Antonio ISD 23.9 23.8 22.9 25.3 23.2 97
6 Nazareth School Nazareth ISD 23.6 25.7 21.5 24.8 22.3 100
7 Falls City HS Falls City ISD 22.4 20.6 22.7 23.7 22.3 100
8 Wall HS Wall ISD 22.4 21.2 22.8 22.3 22.8 76
9 Klondike ISD Klondike ISD 22.1 20.3 22.8 21.9 22.6 100
10 Guthrie School Guthrie CSD 22.1 20.5 21.1 23.4 22.8 100
11 Irma Rangel Young Women's Dallas ISD 21.9 22.2 21.0 22.2 21.9 98
12 Brookesmith School Brookesmith ISD 21.8 21.4 19.8 23.8 22.0 83
13 IDEA Quest College Preparatory IDEA Public Schools 21.7 21.3 21.0 22.6 21.6 100
14 Borden County School Borden County ISD 21.7 20.9 21.9 21.7 22.1 80
15 Dr Wright L Lassiter Jr ECHS Dallas ISD 21.5 20.5 22.3 21.7 21.2 100
16 Happy HS Happy ISD 21.5 19.1 21.0 23.0 22.2 100
17 Fort Elliott School Fort Elliott CISD 21.5 21.1 20.5 22.7 21.7 100
18 Vega HS Vega ISD 21.5 20.3 21.5 22.4 21.1 82
19 McMullen County School McMullen County ISD 21.4 19.7 21.8 21.5 21.6 100
20 Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet Dallas ISD 21.4 21.1 21.3 22.4 20.6 98
21 White Oak HS White Oak ISD 21.3 20.3 20.6 22.1 21.8 76
22 Miles HS Miles ISD 21.2 20.5 20.5 22.4 21.1 92
23 Knippa School Knippa ISD 21.2 18.9 21.9 22.7 20.9 83
24 Advanced Learning Academy San Antonio ISD 21.1 20.9 19.9 22.2 20.8 83
25 Grand Prairie Collegiate Institute Grand Prairie ISD 21.1 20.6 21.6 22.6 19.2 82
School District Composite English Math Reading Science % Tested

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