This week the College Board released SAT data for the class of 2009. The good news is that the student population taking the 2009 SAT is more diverse than ever before – 40% of SAT takers were students of color, 36% of SAT takers would be first-generation college students, and 25% of SAT takers reported that English wasn’t their first language (or not their only first language).
The bad news is that there are still large disparities between groups of students. For example, the average score on the math section for students whose families earn between $20,000-40,000 was 475, while the average score on the math section for students whose families earn more than $200,000 was 579 and the average score on the writing section for African-American students was 421, while for White students the average score on the writing section was 517.
Strong SAT performance appears to be correlated with at least three factors: completing a strong core curriculum in high school; taking the most academically rigorous courses available and practicing for the SAT by taking the PSAT/NMSQT.
Core Curriculum in High School
Students who completed a core curriculum that included 4 or more years of English, 3 or more years of math, 3 or more years of natural science, and 3 or more years of social science or history had the highest SAT scores. For example, students who took such a core curriculum scored 46 points higher on the critical reading section than students who did not.
Students who took AP or honors classes had higher average SAT scores. For example, students who took AP or honors math classes scored 79 points higher on the math section compared to the average math score.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Students who were familiar with the test and had taken the PSAT/NMSQT had higher average SAT scores. For example, students who took the PSAT/NMSQT scored 45 points higher on the writing section than students who didn’t take the PSAT/NMSQT.
For more SAT data, see the College Board reports.