By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Looking for SAT numbers

I couldn’t manage to form the right Google or LexisNexis search to find what I’m looking for — the increase in the SAT participation rate among high-school students over the years. Ideally, I’d be able to nail down numbers for 1990 and 2007, but I’ll take what I can get. Any thoughts?

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  1. Matt Carroll

    Dan, I’d contact Dept of Ed. They have tons of stats. The latest SAT scores are here,and I’m sure they have them offline going back years.Unfortunately, these stats do not include the participation rate, but do include the number of test takers, so if you have some time, you can dig out class numbers (on the same site) and figure out participation rates.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Matt: Thank you. I’m trying to get the national rate, but I’ll see if they might be able to steer me in the right direction.

  3. Pink Granite

    Could you simply call the College Board or the Educational Testing Service?- Lee

  4. Gard Trask

    I Googled “National SAT Participation trends” and was led to articles that quoted statistics from About Us / News & Information / SAT for the Press there are contact numbers.HTH

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Gard: I thought I’d take the old-fashioned route and call the reference desk at the BPL. I went to and was soon plugged in to a nationwide chat room populated by reference librarians. I’m being helped by someone from Pasadena right now. Amazing.

  6. adamg

    The BPL reference folks – both that national service they’re part of – and the local folks – really are amazing.

  7. Bill Weye

    The fine folks at these educational testing services are very protective of most of their statistics. Having worked in an institutional research office of a major university, I’ve seen this first hand. Many of the good stats people want for good reason they call proprietary. I don’t know if this will be the case in your research, but don’t be surprised if you bump up against their “proprietary statistics”.

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Bill: You are correct. ETS wanted money. However, I was able to delve into LexisNexis more deeply and find news stories from 1990 (40 percent) and 2007 (48 percent).

  9. Bill Toscano

    Dan: I have had good luck corresponding with Jay Mathews at the Washington Post (yes, I am a fanboy of many bloggers and writers, not just you). 😉 If anyone’s gonna know this stuff — or where to find it — he will.

  10. Jerry Ackerman

    Dan, I’d call (by phone) the College Entrance Examination Board in Princeton, which should have data. You should also factor in the growth of the ACT (I don’t know what that stands for through). It’s big in the Midwest and West, to the exclusion of SATs.


    Hello Dan,The Statistical Abstracts of the United States has some figures for the total number of students taking the SAT from 1976 to 2006 information yet on rate…I’ll keep looking.Best,Barbara Slavin

  12. Dan Kennedy

    Thanks, everyone. Great advice. But as I said above, I found what I needed — a rise from 40 percent to 48 percent between 1990 and 2007.Jerry, you’re right, of course, but the ACT rate is not relevant to my purposes.

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