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Data Sets

This report includes data from the full SAT Suite of Assessments—the SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10 and PSAT 8/9. The data sets for each assessment represent different populations of students. See below for more information.

 

The majority of SAT takers in the class of 2016 took the old SAT, which was last administered in January 2016. However, some may have taken the new SAT, first administered in March 2016, before graduating.

As a result, participation data for the class of 2016 is presented in two ways:

  1. The total number of students in the class of 2016 who took any version of the SAT at least once through June 2016, along with a comparison to the number of  students in the class of 2015 who took the SAT at least once through June 2015; and
  2. The total number of students in the class of 2016 who took the old SAT at least once through its last administration in January 2016, along with a comparison to the number of students in the class of 2015 who took the old SAT at least once through January 2015.

Performance data for the class of 2016 includes mean scores for students who took the old SAT at least once through January 2016. We also provide, for comparison, the mean scores for students in the class of 2015 who took the old SAT at least once through January 2015.

Older SAT data sets by graduating cohort published on our website reflect performance data through June (the 2011–2015 reports) or March (the 1996–2010) of senior year. Therefore they cannot be compared to class of 2016 results through January 2016 because the number of test administrations and the characteristics of the class cohort are different than in the past.

PSAT/NMSQT Data Set

The data set includes all students who took the test during the fall 2015 administration.

Because we redesigned our college and career readiness benchmarks, the percentage of students who met the 10th-and 11th-grade benchmarks in fall 2015 is not comparable to the percentage of students who met the old PSAT/NMSQT benchmark in prior years.

PSAT 10 Data Set

The PSAT 10 data set includes all students who took the PSAT 10 in the spring of 2016.

PSAT 8/9 Data Set

This data set includes all students who took the PSAT 8/9 in the fall of 2015 or spring of 2016. Students are counted only once. For those students who tested in both the fall and spring, only their most recent (i.e., spring) scores are counted.

This year’s data set includes participation data for all students who took the new SAT in the period from March 2016 through June 2016 in either national, international, or School Day administrations. Students who took the exam more than once in this time frame were counted only once, and only their latest scores were used.

We will return to reporting SAT data for the traditional graduating cohort SAT data for the class of 2017 in next year’s results.

Comparing Old and New Assessment Data

Most data points in this year’s results cannot be compared to results from previous years.

The main reason is the redesign of the SAT and PSAT/NMSQT and the launch of the new PSAT 10 and PSAT 8/9. But there are additional reasons this year’s data is hard to compare to that of other years.

 

When we redesigned our assessments and improved the college readiness information we deliver to students and educators, we integrated our student data systems to better reflect the interactions we have with students who participate in our PSAT-related assessment, SAT, and AP programs. This lets us report more complete information about the students in our care, including the grade level, course-taking patterns, and GPA information they voluntarily self-report during the test registration process. It also brings us in better alignment with state, school, and district reporting systems.  

Before we integrated our systems, some students self-reported different graduating years when taking the PSAT/NMSQT or SAT at different points in high school. This resulted in their being included in different graduating cohorts. Now that we’ve integrated our systems we can more easily verify students’ graduation year.

As a result, this year’s total participation number for SAT takers in the class of 2016 through June is calculated differently than in prior years. In light of this change, we are re-reporting the class of 2015 SAT participation number to provide a more precise look at year-over-year SAT participation by graduating class.

All future graduating class-level data will reflect this new approach.

As in previous years, these annual results (released September 2016) include SAT participation and performance data by graduating cohort; that is, seniors who took the SAT at least once before graduating from high school in 2016.

However, the transition from the old SAT to the new SAT in spring 2016 makes it difficult to report trends over time. Here’s why:

  • Performance data for the class of 2016 are based on the old SAT, because the majority of students who graduated this year took the old test.
  • Because students started taking the new SAT in March, this year’s performance data set for the class of 2016 only goes through January 2016—the last time the old SAT was offered. [Opens in New Window]Older SAT data sets by graduating cohort reflect testing through June (the 2011–2015 reports) or March (the 1996–2010 reports) of senior year.
  • The new SAT was taken by more juniors than seniors. (The results for the class of 2017 will be shared in next year’s results).

Therefore, we advise against comparing SAT results for the class of 2016 to those of [Opens in New Window]older SAT data sets by graduating cohort because the total population of students is defined differently. 

In the 2015-16 school year, the College Board changed its collection and reporting of race and ethnicity data categories to align with the U.S. Department of Education’s guidelines.

As a result, valid inferences cannot be made by comparing the 2015-16 race and ethnicity distribution or participation estimates against estimates from prior years because the information was collected and reported based on different data rules.

When we redesigned our assessments, we also redesigned our college and career readiness benchmarks. Therefore, benchmark attainment for the new SAT and PSAT-related assessments cannot be directly compared with previously published benchmark attainment for the old SAT and PSAT/NMSQT.

For reference:

  • The old SAT College and Career Readiness benchmark score of 1550 (Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing sections combined) indicated a 65% likelihood of achieving a B- GPA or higher during the first year of college. The old PSAT/NMSQT 10th- and 11th-grade-level benchmarks were based on a similar methodology.
  • The newSAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark predicts a 75% likelihood of achieving at least a C in a related set of first-semester, credit-bearing college courses. The new grade-level benchmarks for the SAT Suite of Assessments are based on expected student growth toward the SAT benchmarks at each grade. Overall college readiness is defined as achieving both of the section-level benchmarks. The benchmark figures in this report represent the percentage of test takers by grade and assessment taken who met or exceeded both section-level benchmarks.

As students and educators transition from the old to the new assessments, the College Board is working closely with higher education institutions and other educational organizations to ensure a smooth transition.

Concordance tables show an estimated score on the old SAT or PSAT/NMSQT based on scores from the new SAT or PSAT/NMSQT, or vice-versa, and are a valid, proven way to compare scores from different assessments.

To ensure an appropriate comparison of old and new results, students’ scores must be converted so that old and new scores are on the same scale. You can do this for the SAT using our concordance tables and tools. PSAT/NMSQT concordance tables are also available.

Comparing mean scores over time: We designed our concordance tables and tools to compare individual student scores. Some organizations will want to compare mean scores, in which case these tools can be used to get an approximate comparison, but the results will not be precise. For example, you may get a score that does not exist on the SAT score scale (i.e., 507), in which case we recommend rounding to the nearest 10.

More Resources

Read the press release

See related 2016 reports

See older reports

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