Oregon SAT & ACT Test Results



The SAT is a standardized test widely used for college admissions in the United States. It was first introduced in 1926, and its name and scoring have changed several times, being originally called the Scholastic Aptitude Test, then the Scholastic Assessment Test, then the SAT Reasoning Test, and now simply the SAT.

The SAT is owned and published by the College Board, a private, nonprofit organization in the United States. It is developed and administered on behalf of the College Board by the Educational Testing Service. The test is intended to assess a student’s readiness for college.

The current SAT, introduced in 2005, takes 3 hours and 45 minutes to finish. Possible scores on the SAT range from 600 to 2400, combining test results from three 800-point sections – Mathematics, Critical Reading, and Writing. However, the SAT does not mirror high school curriculum. Some SAT experts assert that the SAT does not measure raw math or verbal abilities and that the SAT is primarily only a measure of how well one takes the SAT. Taking the SAT or its competitor, the ACT, is required for freshman entry to many, but not all, universities in the United States. 

On March 5, 2014, the College Board announced that a redesigned version of the SAT would be administered for the first time in 2016. The exam will revert to the 1600-point scale, the essay will be optional, and students will have 3 hours to take the exam plus 50 additional minutes to complete the essay.

March 2014:  A New SAT Aims to Realign with School Work

Programs to help low-income students, who will now be given fee waivers allowing them to apply to four colleges at no charge. And even before the new exam is introduced, in the spring of 2016, the College Board, in partnership with Khan Academy, will offer free online practice problems and instructional videos showing how to solve them.

The changes are extensive: The SAT’s rarefied vocabulary challenges will be replaced by words that are common in college courses, like “empirical” and “synthesis.” The math questions, now scattered across many topics, will focus more narrowly on linear equations, functions, and proportional thinking. The use of a calculator will no longer be allowed on some of the math sections.

The three-hour exam — three hours and 50 minutes with the essay — had been redesigned with an eye toward reinforcing the skills and evidence-based thinking that students should be learning in high school, and moving away from a need for test-taking tricks and strategies. Sometimes, students will be asked not just to select the right answer but to justify it by choosing the quotation from a text that provides the best supporting evidence for their answer.

Class of 2016: Oregon SAT scores show weaker math, writing skills

Oregon students’ performance on the SAT college entrance exam indicated the class of 2016 left high school less prepared in math and less capable as writers than perhaps any class that came before them.

The average reading score on the exam was flat. But the math score dropped three points, to 515 among public high school graduates, while the average in writing fell four points to 495, College Board officials said.

Those seemingly dismal results should be taken with a grain of salt, however, because the SAT is taken by a self-selected subset of Oregon high school graduates, not by a representative sample. It is also unclear how the end of the traditional SAT — given for a final time in January before a revised “new SAT” was rolled out in March — may have affected students’ decisions about whether and when to take the exam.

Results of the new SAT have not yet been made public. The average scores for the class of 2016, and the scores for the class of 2015 to which they were compared, only include scores for students who took the SAT by January of their senior year.

Overall, the number of students who took the SAT by that deadline in the class of 2016 was virtually identical to the number in the previous graduating class: slightly more than 16,700. A competing exam, the ACT, drew 14,700 takers.

Those ACT results suggested Oregon’s class of 2016 was the best-prepared for college in recent history, with 4 percent more of them demonstrating college readiness in math than their predecessors and 3 percent more scoring college-ready across all subjects tested.

Why the opposite findings by the two similar tests? No one knows for sure, but the ACT results are skewed by the heavy participation of students in a few large districts, including Portland Public Schools, Beaverton and Tigard-Tualatin, in which all juniors are given the ACT for free on a school day.

The erosion in Oregon students’ SAT performance contrasts with the portrait the state’s SAT-takers painted of themselves. More than 50 percent reported their grade-point average in the A-range, with 40 percent saying they ranked in the Top 10 percent of their class. Officials at the College Board said that represents a massive case of grade inflation nationwide since the class of 2008 left high school.

Seventy-seven percent of Oregon SAT-takers said they took four or more years of math in high school, typically through calculus or pre-calculus. Two-thirds said one or both of their parents are college graduates. More than one-third reported their family’s income exceeds $100,000. Eighty-six percent said they aim to earn a college degree, while the remainder said they were undecided.

As was the case with ACT scores, the most popular college choice among Oregon’s SAT-takers was Oregon State University. Almost half had their scores sent to Oregon State to be considered for admission.

Makers of the new SAT reported that lots of students took it and that they and their teachers think it’s a big improvement. But they did not provide any results or any state-specific participation figures. The ACT has been growing in popularity in Oregon.

Source: “Oregon SAT scores show weaker math, writing skills,” by Betsy Hammond, The Oregonian/OregonLive, September 27, 2016.



The ACT covers reading, English, writing, math and science. The test also asks students for their high school grades and course information. It is designed to measure whether high school graduates are ready for the academic challenge of college.  The primary difference between the ACT and the SAT is that SAT is a reasoning test, while the ACT measures performance in core subject areas.

In 25 states, ACT is the predominant college entrance exam taken by students. In other states, including Oregon and Washington, the SAT is the primary college-entrance test, and only a small share of students take the ACT.  In Oregon, starting with the class of 2008, the number (as well as the percentage) of students taking the ACT is gaining. The ACT is popular for those students aiming for selective universities in the Midwest.

Class of 2018:  20 students score perfect scores on ACT from Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas counties

Twenty students from Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties received perfect scores on their ACT college admission tests this year, including six from one Beaverton schoolThat’s an impressive number, since those students represent the top one-tenth of 1 percent of all test takers nationally. Across Oregon, 35 students out of the 14,631 who took the test in the 2016-17 school year earned a 36 composite score, according to ACT data.

Quinn Christensen, a junior from Sherwood, is among the 20. She plays soccer and runs track for the high school. She plans to go on a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after high school, before starting at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She has not decided on a major yet. Allan Zhang, a junior at Lake Oswego High School, volunteers at OMSI and nonprofit Free Geek that refurbishes old donated electronics. He plans to help in a research lab at OHSU this summer — a way to engage in his favorite subjects of math and science when school is out. Among other students who agreed to have their names published are: David Fang, a junior and one of two perfect scorers from Oregon Episcopal School;  Lyle Altschul and Colter Decker at Cleveland High School; and William Hammond, a junior at Franklin High School (and the son of an editor at The Oregonian/OregonLive) in Southeast Portland.

Westview High School had six perfect scores. The school, which draws heavily from the Bethany area, is perennially a test score powerhouse. Sunset High School, also in the Beaverton School District, had one. Among Portland Public Schools, three students at Lincoln High School scored a 36 and Grant High had one. Catlin Gabel School, which is private, and West Linn High School each had one perfect scorer.

Source:  “20 students score perfect scores on ACT from Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas counties,” byMolly Harbarger, April 14, 2018. The Oregonian/OregonLive.

Class of 2017:  Underserved learners lag far behind peers in college and career readiness

Underserved students lag far behind their peers when it comes to college and career readiness, and the more underserved characteristics that students possess, the less likely they are to be ready. These findings are reported in The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2017, ACT’s annual score report, which was released in early September 2017.

Underserved students, who represent nearly half (46 percent) of ACT-tested 2017 U.S. high school graduates, are defined as students who would be the first generation in their family to attend college, come from low-income families and/or self-identify their race/ethnicity as minority. Research suggests students with any of these three characteristics are less likely than others to have access to high-quality educational and career planning opportunities and resources.

Only 9 percent of ACT-tested graduates who possessed all three underserved characteristics showed strong readiness for college coursework, meeting three or four of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks (English, mathematics, reading and science). Even among students who met only one of the underserved criteria, just 26 percent showed strong readiness. In comparison, the majority (54 percent) of graduates who were not underserved showed strong readiness for college.

The national average ACT composite score for the 2017 graduating class rose to 21.0 on a 1 to 36 scale, returning to 2014 and 2015 levels after dropping to 20.8 last year. Below are the scores for the Oregon class of 2017:

  • % of graduates tested:  40%
  • Average composite score:  21.9
  • Average English score:  21.2
  • Average mathematics score: 21.5
  • Average reading score: 22.4
  • Average science score:  21.7

Class of 2016:  Oregon students’ ACT scores best in recent history

Oregon’s class of 2016 was the best-prepared for college in recent history, according to results for the 14,000-plus students who took the ACT college entrance exam.

The scores were only slightly better than for the previous class, with 4 percent more students demonstrating college readiness in math and 3 percent more testing college-ready in all four subjects tested. The average composite score, 21.7 out of a possible 36, was two-tenths of a point higher than the previous record.

Still, the rising performance was notable because of a larger proportion of Oregon’s graduating class, 39 percent, took the exam than ever before, including 17 percent of ACT-takers who were Latino. Three years ago, 34 percent of graduates took the exam, 14 percent of whom were Latino.

Black, white, Latino, Asian and multi-racial students all achieved record-high composite scores on the exam, with black students recording the biggest improvement. The test nonetheless found huge gaps in college preparedness by race and ethnicity, with black and Latino students lagging far behind whites and Asians.

Oregon’s ACT-takers are an atypical mix. Top achievers from all parts of the state choose to take the exam, but the test-taking pool is largely made up of students in a half-dozen medium and large districts that give the ACT for free to all students, including Portland, Beaverton, Tigard-Tualatin and Sherwood. Those districts generally prepare more of their students for college than the typical Oregon district, due in part to high levels of parent education.

In Oregon and nationwide, girls were more likely than boys to take the ACT, and those who did outscored boys by more than half a point. But boys were far more likely to score college-ready in math.

Among whites and Asians in Oregon, 55 percent of ACT-takers met college-ready standards in at least three subjects. Among Latinos and African Americans, only 19 percent did.

One big problem, the test-maker said, is that Oregon’s black and Latino students don’t take enough core academic courses. Students need at least four years of English and three each of math, science and social studies to do well on the exam and in college, ACT officials said.

But only 42 percent of Oregon’s black test-takers and 46 percent of Latinos reported taking that many courses in high school, compared with 60 percent of white students, the testing outfit said.

Taking mathematics beyond Algebra II is particularly important, the test-maker said. Only 13 percent of Oregon students whose most advanced math classes were geometry and Algebra II tested college-ready in math. Among Oregonians who took at least one further math course, 63 percent tested college-ready.

Source:  “Oregon students’ ACT scores best in recent history” by Betsy Hammond, August 24, 2016. The Oregonian/OregonLive.