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Most Diverse Group Ever Takes SAT in 2009

Most Diverse Group Ever Takes SAT® in 2009

More than 1.5 million college-bound students (1,530,128) have taken the SAT® this year, and this year’s group was more diverse than any before. Forty percent of SAT participants were minority students — up from 38.0 percent in 2008 and 29.2 percent in 1999. Hispanic participants represent the largest and fastest-growing group of minority participants and now account for 13.5 percent of all SAT takers, compared to 7.8 percent 10 years ago.

More than one-third (36.1 percent) of participants reported that their parents’ highest level of education was high school or less. And a quarter of 2009 SAT takers (25.2 percent) reported that English is not exclusively their first language, compared to 18.3 percent in 1999.

“We are tremendously encouraged by the increasing diversity of participation in the SAT,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton. “The College Board will continue working together with educators nationwide to ensure all students have the opportunity to confidently pursue their college dreams. As the equity gap narrows, more than ever, the SAT reflects the diversity of students in our nation’s classrooms.”

This year’s college-bound seniors averaged 501 in critical reading, 515 in mathematics and 493 in writing. On a long-term basis, students’ mathematics scores have experienced a mostly upward trend and are now four points higher than a decade ago. Conversely, critical reading scores have declined somewhat and are now four points below 10 years ago. The writing section of the SAT was introduced in 2005. In 2006, the first year the writing scores were reported, the average writing score was 497.

“Almost all of our nation’s colleges and universities accept the SAT as an integral part of the admission process, and most that require the submission of the SAT do so because they know they can make better admission decisions if they have as much data as possible about every student applicant,” said Caperton. “The college admission process is like most other activities in our increasingly complex society: The more data and information we have available, the better decisions we can make.”  

As in previous years, there were three common factors found among the strongest performers in the class of 2009: (1) completing a core curriculum (four or more years of English, three or more years of mathematics, three or more years of natural science and three or more years of social science and history); (2) taking their school’s most rigorous courses (honors or AP courses); and (3) being familiar with the test by taking the PSAT/NMSQT, a diagnostic test that provides feedback on academic strengths and identifies areas needing more attention. Students in the class of 2009 who took core curricula averaged 46 points higher on the critical reading section, 44 points on the mathematics section and 45 points on the writing section. Those students who took such rigorous courses as English honors or AP courses scored 60 points higher in critical reading and 59 points higher in writing; students who took math honors or AP scored an average of 79 points better on mathematics.

“The SAT directly reflects what students have learned in school and how they use that knowledge,” said Laurence Bunin, senior vice president of the SAT Program at the College Board. “That’s why the latest research continues to validate that the SAT, when combined with high school grades, is the best predictor of college success.”

The College-Bound Seniors Total Group Report and the individual state reports are available at


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