NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Sat Scores Rise

August 27, 2003

High school students scored higher in the math section of the SAT (formerly the Scholastic Aptitude Test) than any other class in the past 35 years, according to newly released scores. They also earned a higher score on the test's verbal section than any class in the past 16 years.

According to the College Board, the test's nonprofit sponsor, the SAT was taken by about 1.4 million high-school students. The average composite score, combining math and verbal tests, was 1,026, up 23 points from a decade ago. Experts attribute the dramatic rise in math scores is largely due to more high-school students taking four years of math.

Average SAT scores rose for nearly all ethnic groups in the past decade; however, scores for minority students are falling behind those of their peers.

  • White and Asian students outstripped most others -- 26 points higher for whites, 41 points for Asians.
  • Meanwhile, scores for blacks rose only seven points.
  • For Mexican-American students, scores actually dropped five points, and for Puerto Rican students, they rose 26 points.
  • Other Hispanic students' math scores dropped three points, while their verbal scores rose a point.

But the gender gap in scores shrank slightly: In 1993, boys scored 47 points higher than girls; in 2003, they scored 43 points higher. Girls represent 54 percent of SAT-takers this year.

Source: Greg Toppo, "SAT scores continue to rise; record set in math section," USA Today, August 27, 2003.

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