As Number of Test Takers Rises, SAT Scores Fall Slightly

September 14, 2011

Average SAT scores fell slightly for 2011 high-school graduates, as the number of test takers and the proportion of minority students grew, according to a report released on Wednesday by the College Board, which owns the test.

This year's average scores were 497 on the critical-reading section, 514 in mathematics, and 489 in writing. Scores in all three subjects fell, with math scores showing the least change, dropping one point from last year. Critical-reading scores fell the most, by three points. Each section is scored on a scale from 200 to 800.

Students who reported their annual family income as more than $200,000 continued to improve their overall scores. Since 2008, they have enjoyed a 45-point increase in their average scores for all three sections, from 1676 to 1721. About a third of test takers did not report their family incomes.

The College Board noted that the decline in average SAT scores could probably be explained by the increase in test takers from varied academic backgrounds. The board said the scores did not necessarily represent a decline in performance, and it reported more high-performing students among the Class of 2011 than in previous years.