The Stubborn Racial Gap in Scores on the SAT College Entrance Examination

The College Board has released its annual report on the scores of graduating high school seniors in the Class of 2020 on the SAT college entrance examination. More than 261,000 African Americans in the Class of 2020 took the test, down only slightly from 2019. They made up 12 percent of the 2.2 million test takers in the Class of 2020.

Four years ago The College Board “redesigned” the SAT and therefore it claims that current scores cannot be compared to those from the past. Scores on the redesigned test are significantly higher than those from previous years.

Each of the two sections of the SAT is scored on a scale of 200 to 800 points. This year African Americans had a mean score of 473 on the reading test, down three points from a year ago. This was 84 points lower than the mean score for Whites. On the mathematics section, African Americans scored an average of 454, again down three points from 2019. This was 93 points lower than the mean score for Whites. Thus, on the combined test, Blacks had a mean score of 927 and Whites had a mean score of 1104. Although the redesigned SAT shows higher overall scores, the racial gap remains about the same.

The results showed that only 20 percent of African American test takers met the college and career readiness benchmark for both reading and mathematics. Some 56 percent of Whites met the readiness benchmarks in both reading and mathematics. Some 54 percent of all Black test takers did not meet the minimum benchmark in either reading or mathematics. For Whites, the figure was 19 percent.

Comments (2)

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  1. Joel Margolis says:

    Instead of talking about numerical differences between whites and blacks, you should focus on standard deviations.

  2. Aokoi says:

    Does the racial gap persist when the scores are controlled for IQ? I.e., how does the average black test taker with an IQ of 100 score in comparison to the average white or Asian student with the same IQ?

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