The Racial Scoring Gap on SAT II Subject Tests

The SAT II subject tests are one-hour examinations that are offered in 21 specific academic disciplines. The most popular SAT II examination is the English literature test. Also popular are SAT II tests for mathematics, American history, and biology. SAT II tests are also offered in subjects such as Latin, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Korean, chemistry, and physics.

SAT II tests are generally taken only by students applying to the nation’s highest-ranked colleges and universities. Therefore, only the highest-achieving students generally take these tests. Yet the racial scoring gap on most SAT II tests is about the same, in percentage terms, as on the regular SAT, which is taken by a far larger pool of test takers.

Of all the widely taken SAT II tests in 2009, the black-white racial scoring gap of 106 points, or approximately 18 percent, was the greatest on the American history test. There were also large racial gaps on the two mathematics tests and SAT II tests on English literature, biology, and world history.

College-bound black students generally fared well in comparison with the scores of white students on foreign-language examinations. The black-white scoring gap was 43 points on the French test and 44 points on the Latin test.