05 October, 2019
The College Board said that more than 2.2 million students in the class of 2019 took the college entrance test SAT. That is the largest group ever and an increase of four percent from the previous year. The average score, however, dropped a little, from 1068 to 1059.
The SAT is a test many American colleges require as part of the admissions process. It is a multiple-choice test, which means students must decide which answer is the best from several provided for each question.
Higher scores can make the difference between being admitted into the top colleges and universities, and how much financial aid a student may receive.
Research shows that students who have greater access to college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT are more likely to apply to college. This is particularly true for low-income students.
School Day testing
The College Board also said nearly a million students of the 2019 class took the SAT on a school day. The SAT School Day program makes it easier for low-income, minority students and students from families with no history of college attendance to take the SAT.
Traditionally, students have to register and pay for the tests, then travel to testing centers on a weekend to take them. For people without the resources of a computer, credit card or car, it can be difficult.
Some states now give college entrance exams like the ACT and SAT for free, on a school day during school hours.
Cyndie Schmeiser is a Senior Advisor to the College Board. She said, "SAT School Day gives students nationwide increased access to higher education." The program, she added, helps "students who would not or could not take (the) test on a weekend."
The College Board also encouraged students to take the test earlier. Schmeiser said, "by promoting early testing, practice on Khan Academy®, and SAT retakes at no charge for lower-income students, we hope to help more students achieve their educational and career goals."
Minority groups falling behind
Inside Higher Ed says test scores among minority groups have been lower for many years. In 2019, more African American and Latino students failed to meet the SAT test results for college readiness than the year before.
FairTest, the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, studied the new SAT results. It says the SAT score gaps, or differences, between different groups grew larger for the high school class of 2019.
Robert Schaeffer is FairTest's Public Education Director. He criticized the SAT test in an email to VOA.
"Whether broken down by test-takers' race, parental education or household income," he wrote, "average SAT scores of students from historically disenfranchised groups fell further behind their classmates from more privileged families."
Schaeffer said, "The SAT remains a more accurate measure of a test-taker's family background" than a student's ability to do college level work.
He said it is "no wonder nearly 40% of all four-year colleges and universities in the country are now test-optional." He said "they recognize that these exam requirements undermine diversity without improving educational quality."
Most four-year universities and colleges require foreign students to take an admission test such as the SAT or ACT. Each university lists the admission requirements on their website. This will include required tests.
Through the College Board website, foreign students can get information about test dates and fees. The cost of taking the test is about $50.
There are free study materials on the College Board website, including practice tests. Khan Academy provides an official SAT practice on their website.
I'm Anne Ball.
Anne Ball wrote this story, with information from the College Board. Hai Do was the editor.
What do you think of the SAT? Have you taken it? Write to us in the comments section below.
Words in This Story
minority– adj. – adj. describes a number or amount that is less than half of the total (also describes a group of people who are different from the larger group in a country, area, etc., in some way)
disenfranchised – adj. not having a position of power in society or right to vote
privileged – adj. to give an advantage that others do not have to someone or something
optional – adj. available as a choice but not required
undermine – v. to make (someone or something) weaker or less effective usually in a secret or gradual way
diversity – n. (social) quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, cultural backgrounds or lifestyles