The College Board Announces Surge of Students Taking New SAT® Suite Of Assessments, Creating an Opportunity Pathway for More Than Six Million Students

SAT participation increases for test-takers in 2016; 1.7 million are using free Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy

NEW YORK — Over 6.7 million test-takers completed the SAT® or a PSAT-related assessment during the 2015-16 school year, according to the 2016 SAT Suite of Assessments results released today. The SAT Suite of Assessments, which launched in 2015, includes the new SAT, PSAT/NMSQT®, PSAT 10, and PSAT 8/9, and helps millions of students and educators set an earlier trajectory for college and career readiness. This is because it focuses on areas that research and evidence show matter most and reflects what students are already learning in class.

More test-takers completed the new SAT from March through June of this year than took the old SAT during the same period in 2015, which is a substantial show of support for the test’s redesign. Nearly 1.36 million test-takers took the new SAT in 2016, compared to 1.18 million who took the old SAT in 2015. This is a jump of approximately 180,000 SAT takers.

“We have transformed all of our tests to deliver greater opportunities and to clear a path for students to succeed in college and careers,” said College Board President and CEO David Coleman. “No other assessments provide students access to hundreds of millions of dollars in scholarships and free, personalized practice.”

Unprecedented numbers of students now have more and better access to opportunity because an increasing number of states, schools, and districts offer the SAT or a PSAT-related assessment to their students. The number of students who took the SAT during a school day more than doubled: there were over 458,000 SAT School Day participants in 2015-16, compared to nearly 219,500 in 2014-15. Twelve states, the District of Columbia, and 561 districts administered the new SAT or a PSAT-related assessment to their students during a school day in 2015-16, compared to eight states, the District of Columbia, and 429 districts that administered the old SAT or a PSAT-related assessment in 2014-15. It is anticipated that in 2016-17, the SAT or a PSAT-assessment will be administered during a school day in 13 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 700 districts.

“We’re seeing great momentum working with states and districts to create a pipeline for students to become college ready,” said Cyndie Schmeiser, chief of assessment for the College Board. “We are providing educators with information that better equips them to identify students who are falling behind and allows them to intervene and differentiate instructional work much earlier in high school and middle school.”

Connecting Students to Opportunities

In addition to providing more information about students’ college readiness, College Board assessments connect students to opportunities such as test and college application fee waivers, challenging course work, scholarships, and free, personalized practice.

Since the College Board’s Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy® launched in June 2015, more than 1.7 million unique users have signed up to practice for the SAT — free of charge. In nearly half of all U.S. high schools, students are logging on to the site for productive practice.

“Now, preparing for college is the same as practicing for the SAT,” said Schmeiser. “For the first time, there is equal access to world-class SAT preparation. And it’s free. Our data show more students across all ethnicities and income brackets prepare for the SAT with Khan Academy than with all commercial test-prep courses combined.”

According to our surveys of SAT takers, nearly 60% who took the new SAT this spring and practiced for the test reported using Official SAT Practice to prepare, compared to 19% who used commercial test prep, and there was a 10% drop in the number of students who paid for SAT prep resources.

This year, students taking the first administration of the redesigned PSAT/NMSQT and the new PSAT 10 had access to nearly $180 million in combined annual awards through our new scholarship partners. These new partnerships, combined with the College Board’s longstanding partnership with National Merit Scholarship Corporation, create a portfolio of scholarship opportunities that reach every major segment of students. For example, as a result of taking the PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10, more applicants than ever before were identified as potential recipients of Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarships. In 2016, 32% of the Cooke Scholars were identified because they took the PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10, and each received a full $40,000 a year in scholarships.

Since 2007, income-eligible students have received eight free score reports. Research shows that these students are more likely (by 10 percentage points) to send eight or more score reports to colleges than was the case before this free score report initiative was implemented.

Other participation and performance highlights from this year’s report:

Old SAT Results: Class of 2016

Because of the SAT redesign, this year’s performance data from the graduating class of 2016 includes students who took the old SAT through its last administration in January 2016. Comparisons of SAT results for the class of 2016 to those of previous graduating classes cannot be made because the number of test administrations and the characteristics of the class cohort are different from those in the past.

To provide a more accurate comparison, below are the mean scores for students in the graduating class of 2016 who took the SAT at least once through January 2016, and mean scores for students in the graduating class of 2015 who took the SAT at least once through January 2015.

  • The old SAT critical reading mean score was 494 for the class of 2016, compared to 497 for the class of 2015.
  • The old SAT math mean score was 508 for the class of 2016, compared to 512 for the class of 2015.
  • The old SAT writing mean score was 482 for the class of 2016, compared to 487 for the class of 2015.

In all three areas, the mean scores for those 2016 high school graduates who took the old SAT through January 2016 are slightly below the average scores for the 2015 high school graduates who took the old SAT through January 2015.

PSAT-Related Assessment Results

The PSAT/NMSQT was redesigned alongside the SAT and administered for the first time in fall 2015. Over 4 million students took the redesigned PSAT/NMSQT in fall 2015, more than the previous high volume of 3.8 million in the fall in 2014.

The data below report the percentage of students who met or exceeded the new College and Career Readiness Benchmarks for their particular grade and assessment taken. There are two section-level benchmarks for the SAT and the grade-level benchmarks: one for the Math section and one for the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section. Overall college readiness is defined as achieving both of the section-level benchmarks. The below figures represent the percentage of test takers by grade and assessment taken who met or exceeded both section-level benchmarks.

Because the groups of students are those who chose to take each assessment and are not nationally representative, the percentages of college-ready students across the assessments cannot be compared.


  • In 2015, 38.5% of 10th-grade students who took the PSAT/NMSQT in the fall met the new 10th-grade College and Career Readiness Benchmark.
  • In 2015, 41.6% of 11th-grade students who took the PSAT/NMSQT met the new 11th-grade College and Career Readiness Benchmark.
  • In spring 2016, 38.2% of 10th-graders who took the PSAT 10 in the spring met the new 10th-grade College and Career Readiness Benchmark.
  • In 2015-16, 32.1% of eighth-graders who took the PSAT 8/9 met the new eighth-grade College and Career Readiness Benchmark. For ninth-graders who took the PSAT 8/9, 37.6% met the new ninth-grade College and Career Readiness Benchmark.

“The percentages we’re seeing from the PSAT-related assessments indicate that there are still far too many students who are not on target to become college ready by the time they graduate from high school,” said Schmeiser. “We still have much work to do to help these students prepare for success after high school.”

AP Potential:

  • There was a 7% increase in the number of 11th-grade PSAT/NMSQT takers who showed high potential to succeed in at least one AP course based on their test results, from 750,524 in 2014 to 802,642 in 2015.
  • There was an 8% increase in the number of 10th-grade PSAT/NMSQT takers who showed high potential to succeed in at least one AP course based on their test results, from 519,668 in 2014 to 561,469 in 2015.

New SAT:

The College Board redesigned the SAT to make it more straightforward and connected to classroom learning. It remains a strong indicator of college readiness for all students. Some of the changes reflected in the new SAT include removing the guessing penalty, focusing on words students will use in college and careers, and making the essay optional.

Following the debut of the new SAT, the College Board surveyed approximately 70,000 test-takers and found that students not only prefer the new test to the old but support changes to the test to make it more focused and clear:

  • By a 7-to-1 margin, students said they preferred the format of the new SAT over that of the old SAT.
  • 80% of students reported feeling confident going into the new SAT.
  • 77% said the vocabulary on the new test would be useful to them later in life.
  • 75% said the Reading Test was the same as or easier than they expected.
  • 72% said the new test reflected what they’re learning in school.

This year’s new SAT data cannot be compared to that of previous years because the redesigned SAT is a different assessment from the old SAT. Moreover, the scale that has been established for the SAT Suite of Assessments is a new scale.

The new SAT gives schools and districts around the country new tools and resources to help students succeed. For California’s Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), offering the SAT for free during a school day is a key step in preparing students for college — as is administering the PSAT 8/9, PSAT10, and the PSAT/NMSQT. With the SAT Suite of Assessments, LBUSD connects its students to scholarship opportunities, identifies students with AP potential, and provides valuable information to support its students as they prepare for college.

Throughout the year, the district has encouraged its students to link their College Board and Khan Academy accounts to receive a personalized SAT study plan based on the PSAT-related assessment results. As of this writing, 73% of LBUSD students have done so.

“The College Board and Khan Academy’s customized online tutorials help level the playing field for students,” said Christopher J. Steinhauser, LBUSD superintendent. “We provide these resources at no cost to students and parents, who appreciate the great value we’re adding to the college-prep effort. By accurately assessing students’ strengths and areas for improvement, and then providing effective and targeted support based on that assessment, we’re reaching more students and seeing more of them prepare for success in college.”

For more information about the College Board’s 2016 Program Results, visit www.collegeboard.org/program-results