SAT Test-Taking Drops by 21%; ACT Continues Slide

The College Board quietly released its 2022 year-end reports this week and the numbers are fairly bleak. In almost every state and territory, the number of test-takers in the ’22 graduating class is significantly below the last pre-pandemic number in 2019. In some states the percent of test-takers is more than 50% lower than three years ago. (In Oregon, symbolically referenced in the image above, the decrease was 49.85%).

This trend is not surprising given the growth of test-optional and test-free colleges. In 2019, approximately 45% of bachelors degree granting institutions were test optional. Today the number is roughly 80%. Given that student standardized test-taking behavior mirrors college admissions policies, as more colleges adopt long-term test-free or test-optional policies it is likely that more students will forgo participation in testing.

The ACT also continues to hemorrhage test takers. FairTest’s analysis of how the distribution of lost test takers has resulted in lower ACT scores cab found in the Forbes article “ACT Score Decline: Lost Learners Not Learning Loss”.

With respect to the SAT, FairTest has reviewed and analyzed the data reports from the College Board and with data visualization help from Oregon State’s Vice President of Enrollment Management, Jon Boeckenstedt. We’re making it available here for your perusal.

A few points of interest:

  • California, where all public universities are are test-free, had the largest percentage decrease in test participation and the largest decrease overall.
  • Oregon, where all public universities are test-optional, was third in percentage decrease.
  • Florida, which not only did not waive test requirements but also kept schools open during the pandemic, showed a slight gain in test-takers.

Here is the full compliment data for your review.