• October 20, 2014

By the SAT Standard, Less Than Half of College-Bound Seniors Are Ready

Only 43 percent of 2012's high-school graduates are prepared for success in college, according to a report released on Monday by the College Board, which owns the SAT.

The SAT Report on College & Career Readiness says that a majority of test takers did not achieve the college-entrance examination's benchmark score of 1550, which the College Board suggests is indicative of college success and graduation. The SAT is scored on a 2400-point scale.

But the SAT is only one factor indicating college readiness and likelihood of completion, the College Board noted, and therefore students who score below the benchmark can still succeed in college. The strongest indicators of college success, the report says, are taking a rigorous high-school curriculum and having parents with postsecondary degrees.

Members of the high-school Class of 2012 who took the SAT represented the largest and most diverse pool in the test's history, according to the report. Of the more than 1.66 million test takers from the Class of 2012, 45 percent identified themselves as minority students, up from 38 percent in 2008. Thirty-six percent of test takers said their parents' highest level of education was a high-school diploma or less.

While participation has increased 6 percent since 2008, SAT scores have decreased slightly. Mean scores for critical reading are down four points, writing scores are down five points, and mathematics scores have remained stable, compared with four years ago. The overall mean for the Class of 2012 was 1498, substantially below the 1550 benchmark.

Researchers continue to debate whether the SAT reliably predicts success in college; some studies support the test's role, while others say it is a poor indicator of future academic performance, putting low-income and minority students at a disadvantage.

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