More College-Bound African Americans Are Taking the SAT II Subject Tests

Each year nearly 1.5 million high school students take the basic Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT). A much smaller group — usually those applying to the nation’s most highly selective colleges and universities — also sit for the more rigorous SAT II subject examinations. These examinations were formerly known as Achievement Tests. Most of the nation’s academically strongest colleges and universities require applicants to take one or more of these SAT II tests so that their admissions officers have another tool to rate students against other applicants in the pool.

In 2007, 286,573 high school seniors nationwide took at least one SAT II subject test. Within this group there were 14,682 black students who took one or more SAT II tests. Therefore, blacks made up only 5.1 percent of all students who took at least one of the SAT subject tests. Looking at the racial gap another way, we find that in 2007, 9.3 percent of all black students who took the standard or regular SAT also took one or more of the SAT II tests. In contrast, 16.3 percent of the white students who took the SAT I also took one or more SAT II tests.

It is encouraging to note that the percentage of all black students taking the SAT II subject tests is on the rise. In 2006 blacks made up 8.0 percent of all SAT II test takers. In 2007 this figure, as stated above, rose to 9.3 percent.