Mean SAT Score for reading and math tests, by year

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This article in Inside Higher Ed (“SAT Scores Drop”) offers analysis of the latest news from the College Board. The piece nods to the ongoing debates over standardized testing: what scores really mean, and the role tests ought to play in college admissions. Further SAT-related internet articles in the last two days discuss the achievement gap, who’s taking the tests now, and efficacy of a testing culture, in general.

My own view is that such standardized tests cannot show everything about a student’s ability and knowledge, but they do show something, particularly in the aggregate. So scores dropping over time is, in my opinion, cause for concern.

Remember, though, if the SAT does reflect an individual’s preparedness for college, of course that’s something you can work to improve yourself. Note this part of the College Board report – it’s rather useful and worth repeating:

 “Rigorous High School Education is Critical”: That is, students who consume a healthier academic plate (core curriculum) perform better on the SAT; and the rigor of the courses themselves matters. (For more information, visit the College Board’s website and see “News & Press”: http://www.collegeboard.org)

In other words, students who challenge themselves in their studies end up doing better on tests.

If I might offer related advice: Students who challenge themselves academically before college end up performing better in college, too.

So whether or not a college entrance exam is in your near future, you should study hard and seek out the most challenging courses, the most challenging teachers, and the best extracurricular study enhancements you can.

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