Fact Sheet on the SAT, Race, and College Admissions

The source for much of the following material is the "Secrets of the SAT" program or Web site (www.pbs.org/frontline/shows/sats), unless otherwise noted.

About the SAT and Test Prep

  • Number of times the SAT was administered in 1998-99: 2.2 million.
  • Number of high school seniors who took the SAT in 1998-99: 1.2 million.
  • Mean SAT scores of high-school seniors in 1998-99: Combined - 1016 (Verbal: 505 / Math: 511).
  • SAT registration fee: $23.50.
  • Cost range for SAT preparation materials and courses: free test prep resources (online and through guidance counselors) to $500/hour for private tutors.
  • Money spent on preparation in 1995-96: average student spent $8 preparing (47.8% of students spent no money; 12% spent an average of $400).
  • Range of time spent preparing for the SAT in 1995-96: average student spent 11 hours (44.8% of students spent 10 hours or less; 8.3% spent over 60 hours).
  • Ninety-seven percent of high school students use some form of test preparation.

SAT Test Score Gaps

  • On average, African-American and Latino students perform below white and Asian students, with the average African-American score 93 points below an average white score on the SAT I Verbal and 106 points less on the Math.1
  • Women score, on average, 36 points below men on the SAT I Math and 43 points below men overall,2 yet get higher grades than men in both high school and college when matched for identical courses.3
  • An average SAT I test taker from a family earning less than $10,000 a year scored 871, with scores rising with income to 1130 for the average person from a family earning more than $100,000.4

SAT and College Admissions

  • Percentage of four-year colleges that currently require standardized test scores: 83%-a drop from 86% in 1997-98.
  • The top factors that influenced admission decisions in 1999 were (in order of importance): grades in college prep courses, admission test scores, grades in all subjects, and other criteria specific to each institution. In 1998 the top four factors were grades in college prep courses, admission test scores, grades in all subjects, and class rank.5
  • There are 2000 colleges and universities that award the BA. About fifty of those (approximately 3%) admit less than 50% of applicants, while the other 1950 (more than 95%) admit more than 50%. Only twelve highly selective colleges and universities admit less than 20% of their applicants.6