SAT Participation Increases, Despite Rise in Test-Optional College Admissions Policies

The College Board reported that 200,000 more students in the class of 2023 took the SAT than in the class of 2022.
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Published on September 27, 2023
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  • SAT participation increased 10.1% from the class of 2022 to the class of 2023.
  • That's despite more colleges and universities adopting test-optional admissions policies.
  • The College Board credited the rise in popularity of SAT School Day as a factor in the year-over-year increase.
  • Participation rose, but the average SAT test score decreased for the class of 2023.

The College Board reported that more than 1.9 million high schoolers from the class of 2023 took the SAT, up from 1.7 million the year before.

This 10.1% increase in participation year to year is notable as more colleges and universities across the U.S. instituted test-optional policies over the past three years, meaning applicants don't need to attach an SAT or ACT test score.

However, it remains to be seen how often students actually submitted their test scores to institutions, as the average SAT score decreased from 1050 for the class of 2022 to 1028 for the class of 2023, according to the College Board.

The continued growth of the SAT post-pandemic shows that students value and take the SAT to show what they've learned, to connect with scholarships and colleges, and to open doors to their post-high-school futures, Priscilla Rodriguez, senior vice president of college readiness assessments at the College Board, said in a statement.

The College Board's SAT School Day may explain the participation increase.

The nonprofit said nearly 1.3 million students from the class of 2023 took the SAT through the SAT School Day program. This program allows schools to administer the test to juniors and seniors in school and on a weekday, rather than requiring them to take the test off-site on a weekend.

SAT School Day participation increased more than 17% from the class of 2022 to the class of 2023, the College Board said.

Those who took the test during the school day, however, posted lower average scores (922) than those who took the test over the weekend (1154), according to the annual Total Group SAT Suite of Assessments report.

Approximately 16% of test takers in the class of 2023 utilized a fee waiver to take the SAT, according to the report. That’s up slightly from 15% in the class of 2022.

Students in the class of 2023 who utilized the waiver posted a slightly lower mean SAT score (1008) than those who did not use the waiver (1175).