National SAT scores hold steady; New Jersey pulls ahead

National scores on the SAT college entrance exam held steady for the third-year in a row. African American students made slight gains; New Jersey scores improved, surpassing the national average.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor
National SAT scores remained mostly stagnant for third year in a row. Students in New Jersey performed better than previous years and surpassed the national average scores.

Scores on the SAT college entrance exam were largely stagnant for a third year, although African-American students made slight gains, the College Board said Thursday.

Average scores in reading, math, and writing were the same in 2012 and 2013.

Students scored an average 496 in reading, down one point from 2011. Average math scores have remained stuck at 514 over the last three years. And the average writing score, 488, was down one point from 2011.

The top score possible on each section is 800 and the highest possible score is 2400. A perfect score was achieved in 2013 by 494 people — less than a third of 1 percent of all test takers, according to the College Board, a nonprofit membership organization of schools and colleges that owns the exam.

Men, on average, scored better in reading and math, while women on average did better in writing.

African-American students on average scored 431 in reading, 429 in math and 418 in writing. That's slightly higher than the previous two years.

The average for all Hispanic students was 450 in reading, 461 in math, and 443 in in writing. On average, they did slightly better in reading and writing this year than last, but math scores declined by one point.

For American Indian and Alaskan natives, scores have mostly decreased slightly since 2011. The average score in 2013 was 480 in reading, 486 in math and 461 in writing.

Asian students on average scored 521 in reading, 597 in math and 527 in writing. The scores in 2013 for the minority group were slightly better in reading and math than the two years before, although in writing the score was one point less than the previous two years.

The College Board says New Jersey students who graduated high school this year did markedly better than their predecessors on a key college-entrance exam.

Data released Thursday show the average SAT score for the Class of 2013 was 499 in critical reading, 522 in math and 500 in writing.

Each test has a top score of 800 and the scores went up for recent grads on all three, even as scores nationally were stagnant.

More than 83,000 students who graduated this year took the exam, down from 1,400 the year before.

New Jersey's scores were above the national average in all three parts of the test.

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