More students in the high school graduating class of 2019 took the SAT than ever before, surpassing the record number of SAT takers in the class of 2018. This class was the first group of students to have access to the full SAT Suite of Assessments, which was introduced when they were in ninth grade.
The data also show that more students from diverse backgrounds are taking the SAT and getting on the road to college.
- Over 2.2 million students in the class of 2019 took the current SAT, up 4% from the class of 2018.
- 43% of SAT takers in the class of 2019 took the test on a school day, up from 36% for the class of 2018.
- The mean total SAT score for the class of 2019 was 1059, down from 1068 for the class of 2018.
- 45% of SAT takers in the class of 2019 met both college readiness benchmarks, down from 47% for the class of 2018.
More Students on the Road to College
SAT School Day offers students the opportunity to take the SAT during school, often at no cost to the test taker. It delivers the SAT to a more diverse group of students—and it continues to grow, accounting for a greater percentage of the graduating class in 2019 than ever before. Together, these facts add up to increased college options for more students.
As SAT School Day grows, the test-taking population evolves. By eliminating barriers and simplifying the test-day experience, SAT School Day makes the SAT possible for students who would not or could not have tested on a weekend. Compared to students who take the SAT only on a weekend, students who take the SAT on a school day are more likely to:
- Attend high-poverty public schools (where more than 50% of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch)
- Have parents without high school diplomas or college degrees
- Identify as an underrepresented minority
These groups are underrepresented on college campuses and include students who might never have taken the SAT before. This means that more students, regardless of background, are considering college as part of their future.
Because the SAT is measuring the college readiness of students whose readiness would have previously gone unmeasured, it's understandable that overall performance decreased slightly. The SAT now provides a more comprehensive picture of the graduating class. We'll continue to work with our partners in the years ahead to improve both access and performance.
Building College Readiness
The class of 2019 is the first class to have access to the full SAT Suite of Assessments, which includes the PSAT-related assessments as well as the SAT. Students start by taking the PSAT 8/9, an early baseline measurement of college readiness.
This first test also puts students on the path to taking the PSAT 10 and the PSAT/NMSQT. A higher percentage of students in the class of 2019 who took the PSAT/NMSQT in their junior year went on to meet or exceed both SAT college readiness benchmarks than students in the class who didn’t take the PSAT/NMSQT.
As more schools, districts, and states adopt the full SAT Suite, more underrepresented students are getting early feedback and support as they take challenging courses and build the skills they'll need for college.
Retaking the SAT
All students, regardless of background, can take steps to strengthen their skills, improve their test scores, and increase their likelihood of earning a degree.
There's evidence that retaking the SAT may be an effective strategy. Students who retake the SAT usually get a higher score the second time. However, while low-income students are more likely to benefit from retaking the SAT, they’re far less likely to retake it than their higher-income peers. These are the findings in "Take Two! SAT Retaking and College Enrollment Gaps," a 2018 National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper soon to be published in American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.
Lower-income students see larger score increases than their higher-income peers when they retake the SAT, and their likelihood of enrolling in a four-year college goes up by 30 percentage points, according to the NBER research.
Increasing Opportunity Through Early Testing
Over two-thirds of all test takers first take the SAT in 11th grade, according to the NBER study, but low-income students are more likely to first take it as seniors. This means they have fewer retake opportunities before college application deadlines.
Expanding SAT School Day, which primarily serves 11th graders, is one way we encourage all students to take the SAT as juniors. When students take the SAT before their senior year, they have several months to practice, improve their skills, and retake the test in the fall of 12th grade.
Connecting Students with Fee Waivers
Fee waivers make it possible for low-income students to take the SAT for free on a weekend twice—even if they’ve taken it through SAT School Day. According to the NBER paper, low-income students who use fee waivers are more likely to retake the SAT than low-income students who don’t use fee waivers, after controlling for other background characteristics.
But the College Board estimates that about a third of low-income students who participate in SAT School Day miss out on fee waiver benefits. To close this gap, we’re working with schools to identify more eligible students and connect them to fee waiver benefits. We’re also increasing outreach to fee waiver–eligible students who've been identified but have not yet used their benefits.
Improving Skills with Official SAT Practice
Official SAT Practice is a free online study tool that offers students personalized practice plans on Khan Academy to help them build the skills they need for college. These practice plans, based on students’ SAT or PSAT/NMSQT scores or performance on brief quizzes, allow students to focus on the skills they most need to improve. Because Official SAT Practice is free, all students have equal access to its interactive questions, video lessons, and full-length SAT practice tests.
Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy is by far the top choice of students preparing for the SAT. In a survey of over 65,000 SAT test takers, nearly four times as many students said they practiced with Official SAT Practice instead of paying for commercial test prep.
School districts across the country are finding innovative ways to encourage their students to strengthen their skills through Official SAT Practice.
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) provides its teachers with clear goals, robust training, and a playbook of practice ideas to help them support their students. Starting in the 2019-20 school year, all CPS high schools will have a dedicated staff member focused on SAT practice. CPS also provides incentives for students who practice and improve. Read more about CPS's Official SAT Practice strategies.
Texas's El Paso Independent School District holds "SAT boot camps" in the fall and spring for students preparing to take the SAT. Each multiweek session is open to all students and focuses on helping them use Official SAT Practice to practice their skills. The district also offers teachers SAT training over the summer so they're ready to assist their students as soon as the school year begins.
Using Official SAT Practice can also help students earn college scholarships. Through the College Board Opportunity Scholarships program, students who use Official SAT Practice for six or more hours could be eligible to earn a $1,000 scholarship. Students who practice for 12 or more hours and improve their SAT score could be eligible to earn a $2,000 scholarship. To date, 1,273 students have earned one or more of these scholarships. Learn more about the College Board Opportunity Scholarships.
|All SAT Takers||2,220,087|
|American Indian/Alaska Native||12,917||1%|
|Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander||5,430||0%|
|Two or More Races||87,178||4%|
|Total Mean Score||1059|
|Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (ERW) mean score||531|
|Math Mean Score||528|
|Met Both Benchmarks||45%|
|Met ERW Benchmark (480+)||68%|
|Met Math Benchmark (530+)||48%|
|Met No Benchmarks||30%|
|* These data are based on a student's most recent SAT results.|
Score Ranges and Benchmarks
The SAT total score is the sum of the scores for the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math sections. Section scores range from 200–800, so total scores range from 400–1600.
The college and career readiness benchmarks are 480 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and 530 for Math. The benchmarks were established in a research study that examined the relationship between scores on the SAT and grades in related courses at two- and four-year colleges. Students who meet these benchmarks have a 75% likelihood of earning a C or better in related introductory, credit-bearing college courses.
Performance by Sex and Race/Ethnicity
|Mean Scores||Benchmarks Met|
|All Test Takers||1059||531||528||45%||68%||48%||30%|
|American Indian/Alaska Native||912||461||451||18%||39%||21%||58%|
|Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander||964||487||478||27%||51%||29%||47%|
|Two or More Races||1095||554||540||51%||76%||53%||22%|