SAT Scores for Admission to the 23 Cal State Universities

A Side-by-Side Comparison of College Admissions Data

Brotman Hall at CSULB
Brotman Hall at CSULB. Marisa Benjamin

If you're wondering if you have the SAT scores you'll need to get into one of the California State University schools, here's a side-by-side comparison of scores for the middle 50% of enrolled students. If your scores fall within or above these ranges, you're on target for admission to one of these Cal State universities. You'll see that several schools do not have SAT scores listed below. This is because those schools have test-optional admissions—with a strong high school record, your SAT scores are not a required part of the application.

Comparison of SAT Scores Needed for Admission to Cal State Schools

Cal State SAT Score Comparison (mid 50%)
(Learn what these numbers mean)

Reading 25% Reading 75% Math 25% Math 75%
Bakersfield Test-Optional*
Cal Maritime Test-Optional*
Cal Poly Pomona 500 610 510 620
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 600 680 600 700
Channel Islands Test-Optional*
Chico 500 590 490 580
Dominguez Hills Test-Optional*
East Bay Test-Optional*
Fresno 460 560 450 550
Fullerton 510 590 510 590
Humboldt State 490 590 470 570
Long Beach 510 610 510 620
Los Angeles 450 540 440 540
Monterey Bay 490 590 480 580
Northridge 460 570 450 550
Sacramento 470 570 470 570
San Bernardino 460 550 450 540
San Diego State 550 640 540 650
San Francisco State 480 580 470 570
San Jose State 500 600 500 610
San Marcos 480 570 470 560
Sonoma State 500 590 480 580
Stanislaus Test-Optional*

View the ACT version of this table

*A Note About Test-Optional Policies

Several of the CSU campuses do not report SAT scores to the Department of Education because they are not required to do so when they have test-optional admission procedures. However, Cal State test-optional policies have restrictions, and students who do not meet certain GPA or class rank criteria are required to submit SAT or ACT scores. Be sure to check the specific guidelines for the campuses to which you are applying. Also, be aware that some of the schools listed above that have reported their scores are also test-optional for qualifying applicants.

Discussion of Cal State Admissions Standards

The table presents the 25th and 75th score percentiles. This means that 25 percent of applicants scored at or below the lower number, and 25 percent scored at or above the higher number. The score range should not be viewed as cut-offs. even if your SAT scores are a little below the lower number, you still have a chance of being admitted, especially if you have a good GPA and class rank.

For the universities that don't list SAT scores, you can still see how you measure up by clicking on the school's name to get additional admissions information. For all the schools, you'll find that some students with scores below the norm were accepted, while other students with strong scores were rejected. This shows that admissions offices look at more than standardized test scores​. Your grades and the types of classes you have taken play a big role in the admissions equation.

With the exception of San Diego State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, you'll be on target for admission to any of the Cal State schools with SAT scores that are average or even a bit below average. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is the most selective of the 23 universities, and to be admitted you'll need SAT or ACT scores that are well above average (especially in math given the school's math/science focus). 

Other Factors That Affect Admission

Unlike the University of California system, admission to Cal State universities is not holistic. Factors such as an application essay, extracurricular activities and letters of recommendation do not typically play a role in the process (EOP students and some specialized programs are exceptions to this policy).

The most important part of your application will be your academic record; the admissions folks will want to see solid grades in college preparatory classes. Students who haven't completed adequate credits in key subject areas such as math, science, and English might be rejected. Success in challenging Advanced Placement, IB, Honors, and dual enrollment classes can significantly strengthen your application.

More SAT Score Comparisons

Check out this side-by-side comparison of SAT admissions data for the University of California to see the typically higher standards of California's other state university system.

On the national level, this comparison of SAT data for the top public universities in the United States reveals just how selective public institutions can be. For any of these schools, applicants are going to need SAT scores that are well above average.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics

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Your Citation
Grove, Allen. "SAT Scores for Admission to the 23 Cal State Universities." ThoughtCo, Oct. 29, 2020, Grove, Allen. (2020, October 29). SAT Scores for Admission to the 23 Cal State Universities. Retrieved from Grove, Allen. "SAT Scores for Admission to the 23 Cal State Universities." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 22, 2023).