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Asians outshine Whites, Blacks, Hispanics in Math, Writing: SAT

Asians in America are brilliant test takers with great command over math and writing, but their White classmates have better comprehension skills.
BY Uttara Choudhury |   09-12-2015

Here is more proof if proof was ever needed about Asians being academic stars in the United States. Average SAT scores in mathematics and writing showed Indian, Chinese and other Asian students doing better than their white, American Indian, black and Hispanic classmates, according to a report on the high school class of 2015 released by the College Board.

A record number of 1.7 million college-bound students in America took the SAT, the largest group that had ever taken the test. Asian-American students showed the most striking gains in SAT college entrance exam scores and are closely watched because the standardized test gauges the achievement of America's top high-school students.

Currently, students can score 800 on the verbal, 800 on the math and 800 on the writing test — for a perfect total score of 2400 on the entire SAT test. In math, Asians averaged 598 compared with 534 for whites, 482 for American Indians, 457 for Hispanics and 428 for blacks. Asians scores in the quant department climbed 11 points on average since 2009.

In writing, Asians averaged 531, compared with 513 for whites, 460 for American Indians, 439 for Hispanics and 418 for blacks. In critical reading, which tests comprehension white students on average scored 529, compared with 525 for Asian students, 481 for American Indians, 449 for Hispanic ones and 431 for African-Americans.

Familiar racial gaps in the average SAT scores didn’t surprise U.S. academics. Northwestern University professor Shalini Shankar, who has authored “Desi Land: Teen Culture, Class and Success in Silicon Valley,” told Braingain Magazine, Asian American parents are not shy about goading their children to succeed.

“Asian-American upper middle class parents are much more likely to send their children to SAT prep classes which help improve their scores,” said Shankar.

“In1965, the US began to recruit professional migration from Asia, and this self-selected group didn’t come as refugees or agricultural workers. Indian and Chinese immigrants who are surgeons and scientists are going to want their children to replicate their own success, and to that degree they do push them,” she added.

The report backs up the fact that there is a dramatic correlation between students’ average scores and the educational attainment of their parents. Students whose parents didn’t graduate from school averaged much lower scores in critical reading than those kids whose parents attended college and got advanced degrees.

Mean SAT Scores by Race/Ethnicity, 2015

Group Critical Reading Mathematics Writing
American Indian 481 482 460
Asian-American 525 598 531
Black 431 428 418
Mexican-American 448 457 438
Puerto Rican 456 449 442
Other Hispanic 449 457 439
White 529 534 513
Source: The College Board

Free Test Prep

The release of SAT scores comes at a critical juncture for the College Board. A new redesigned SAT will launch in Spring 2016, and it arrives as a growing number of colleges are dropping requirements that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. According to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, a critic of the SAT, 27 U.S. colleges and universities have dropped ACT/SAT requirements in the last year.

The SAT tests have faced criticism as privileged students often achieve higher scores after paying for professional test prep. Some say the SAT is slanted in favor of privileged students  — “a wealth test,” as Harvard Law Professor Lani Guinier calls it.

In an effort to deflect criticism and provide a level playing field, College Board will now team with non-profit Khan Academy, which delivers free tutorials in math and other subjects via its popular website, to provide free SAT prep for the revamped SAT test next year.

Uttara Choudhury is Editor, North America for TV 18’s Firstpost news site and a writer for Forbes India. In 1997, she went on the British Chevening Scholarship to study Journalism in the University of Westminster, in London.



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