SAT scores drop locally and nationally as number of test-takers increases

Alex Silber

By Ben Stricker

Despite an increase in the number of students taking the SAT in MCPS, MCPS’s class of 2019 underperformed compared to the class of 2018, scoring an average of 47 points lower.

This follows a national trend: The national SAT score average dropped nine points from 2018 to 2019, but the College Board saw an increase of roughly 100,000 test-takers.

This surge may be due to more schools and students participating in the SAT School Day, a program where the College Board offers students the opportunity to take the SAT for free in their respective high schools. MCPS held its first SAT Day in April 2019.

“It’s great that more students are taking the test because the way our college system is set up with the admissions process right now, it is essential to have standardized test scores,” junior Greg Garner said. “Taking the SAT is the first step to higher education.”

SAT/ACT tutoring company Cusack Prep president Brendan Cusack believes that Simpson’s Paradox could explain the score decrease. This phenomenon explains that while some students saw their scores rise, the collective average test score dropped due to an increase in the number of students taking the test, which may have lowered the SAT scores, he said. 

“The additional 100,000 students taking the SAT is what’s bringing the scores down, which overall is not a bad thing,” Cusack said. “It means that more students are taking it, they’re starting the process, and they’re beginning their journey.”