More Than 2 Million Students in the Class of 2018 Took the SAT, Highest Ever

More students are taking the SAT on a school day, gaining greater access and opportunity.

New York — More than 2.1 million students in the class of 2018 took the redesigned SAT, an increase of 25% over the class of 2017, according to the 2018 SAT Suite of Assessments Program Results. This is the largest number of students in a graduating class to take the SAT. The SAT School Day Program, which allows students take the SAT during regular school hours usually at no cost, continues to expand. Thirty-six percent of the class of 2018 participated in the program, compared to 27% of last year’s graduating class.

Students in the 2018 graduating class had an average total SAT score of 1068, a slight increase over last year's class average of 1060. The average score for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (ERW) was 536, while the Math section was 531. Forty-seven percent of test takers met both ERW and Math benchmarks, 1% point higher than that of the class of 2017. The full data for the class of 2018 can be found here.

"Five years ago, we made a promise to transform the SAT into a test that delivers opportunities. We changed the test itself, upended the landscape of costly test prep by offering free, personalized practice for all, and propelled students forward with fee waivers and scholarship opportunities. What is at stake is not higher scores. It's students having the opportunity to own their future," said David Coleman, CEO of the College Board.

In the 2017-18 school year, nearly one million students participated in SAT School Day, compared to about 800,000 in 2016-17 and 460,000 in 2015-16. In 2014-15, only three states—Delaware, Idaho, Maine—and the District of Columbia participated in SAT School Day. In 2017-18, 10 states—Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, West Virginia—and the District of Columbia gave the SAT to public school students for free. SAT School Day has grown significantly, as has the consensus among researchers that offering the SAT no cost during the school day eases the way to college for more students.

"Educators, states, districts and schools have been instrumental in ensuring students have the chance to take the SAT without any obstacles, especially students who need it most," said Jane Dapkus, vice president of college readiness assessments for the College Board. "We've made it easier for schools across the country to offer SAT on a school day. We've seen a remarkable expansion in participation, and we expect the program to grow even more in the coming years."

All income-eligible students can take the SAT for free with a fee waiver. Even if low-income students take the SAT during the school day, they can take the SAT again two more times, at no cost, on a weekend. Students taking the SAT with a fee waiver can send their scores to an unlimited number of colleges, apply to participating colleges, and apply for financial aid with CSS Profile™—all for free. For the class of 2018, 21% of students took the SAT with a fee waiver. The College Board estimates about one-fourth of eligible students don’t take advantage of the fee waivers they're entitled to.

"We've streamlined our process, so we no longer have to ask students to prove their need over and over again. Once they take the SAT with a fee waiver, students are connected to critical, free resources that clear their path to applying to college," Dapkus added.

Changes include making it simpler for educators to identify students in need of fee waivers and simpler for students to access the benefits. The College Board also partners with community-based organizations to distribute fee waivers.

Additional highlights of this year's Program Results include:

Early feedback with PSAT-related assessments

The SAT Suite of Assessments—the SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, and PSAT 8/9—allow educators and students nationwide to monitor progress over time and engage in productive practice to achieve college readiness.

  • More than 7.8 million students took the SAT or a PSAT-related assessment in the 2017-18 school year, compared to 7.3 million in 2016-17.
  • 4.3 million students took the PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10 in the 2017-18 school year, up slightly from 2016-17.
  • The PSAT 8/9 establishes the baseline measure of skills as students enter high school. In 2017-18, 1.5 million students took this test, an increase of 20% over 2016-17, which means more students received early feedback on their progress toward college readiness.

Students benefitting from free, personalized practice

More than 7 million users have signed up for Official SAT Practice since its launch in 2015, including more than 2 million in 2018, to start practicing for the SAT. Here's some additional highlights:

  • Data from 2017 reveal that 20 hours of practice using OSP on Khan Academy is associated with an average 115-point increase from the PSAT/NMSQT to the SAT. That's double the score gain of students who didn't use Official SAT Practice.
  • A recent study of the class of 2017, titled Delivering Opportunities, found students who scored below 800 improved the most, compared to students with higher scores who practiced for just as many hours. Students who scored below 800 on the PSAT/NMSQT and spent at least 20 hours on Official SAT Practice gained about 180 points (compared to 80–90 points for those who didn't use their scores to get a customized study plan).
  • Regardless of race/ethnicity, gender, or income level, students raised their scores through practice.

"Data shows Official SAT Practice is helping all students to become more college ready across all income levels and race/ethnicity, which is truly encouraging," said Cyndie Schmeiser, senior advisor to the CEO and author of the Delivering Opportunities report. "Our mission is to combat the inequities of high-priced commercial test prep and give all students a level playing field to improve and own their future."