The class of 2012’s SAT test data spotlights a downward trend in the nation’s median Critical Reading and Writing scores; however, after reviewing the College Board’s Total Group Profile Report, it seems this data, which on its face is discouraging, has been a bit sensationalized. The most widely circulated stories explicitly mention the 40-year low these scores represent, but they barely discuss the fact scores are down only 1 point from last year’s median averages in Critical Reading and Writing, or the fact the number of students achieving elite level scores has increased greatly over the last few years.
Last year approximately 1.66 million students took the SAT; this is the largest number of students to ever take the exam, and the decrease in median Critical Reading and Writing scores is most likely due in large part to the significant increase in the number of students considering college. Since 2008, College Board reports, the number of students taking the SAT has increased by 6% each year. All around the country previously uninterested students are being encouraged by parents, counselors, and friends to explore the opportunities a university education might afford them, and this is a good thing.
A larger pool of test takers offers dedicated students an opportunity to distance themselves even further from the rest of the pack; however, it is important to remember, despite the decrease in median Critical Reading and Writing scores, competition among elite test-takers has never been higher. From 2010 to 2012, the number of students scoring between 700-800 in Critical Reading and Writing has increased, respectively, from 71,160 to 77,888 and from 66,231 to 71,771. This is especially true for the SAT Math section, which, despite maintaining a median score of 514, has seen an increase in the number of students scoring between 700-800, in the same time frame, from 104,334 to 118,682 students.
These high scores indicate a growing level of competition among elite test takers. Coupled with an ever expanding group of college candidates, this means it is more important than ever to be thoroughly prepared for the SAT; the number of students thinking about a higher education may be increasing, but the number of spots available at our country’s most elite universities are not.
Remember, if you, your friends, or your children need help preparing for the PSAT, SAT, or ACT, the experts at Test Masters are available year round for all your educational needs.