Scores on the SAT college entrance exam were largely stagnant for a third year, and of the students in the high school graduating class of 2013 who took the test, just 43 percent were academically prepared for college-level course work, 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 been stuck at 514 over the past 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. In 2013, 494 students earned a perfect score — that's 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.
The stagnant score results are a call to action to "dramatically increase the number of students in K–12 who are prepared for college and careers," College Board President David Coleman said.
"Only by transforming the daily work that students do can we achieve excellence and equity," Coleman said in a release. "The College Board will do everything it can to make sure students have access to opportunity, including rigorous course work."
The College Board said students who performed better on the SAT exam were more likely to enroll in a four-year college and more likely to complete their degree. For students who scored 1550 or higher on the standardized test, 54 percent earned a bachelor's degree within four years, compared to only 27 percent of those who did not meet the benchmark.
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. Those scores are 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.
Al Jazeera and the Associated Press