South Carolina Students Outpace Nation on SAT and AP Scores

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

South Carolina students continue to outperform the national average on both the SAT and Advanced Placement exams. SC students exceeded the nation on eight out of the top ten subjects of Advanced Placement exams as well as scored above the national average on the newly redesigned SAT college entrance exam.

“Our continued success on these rigorous college and career readiness assessments is the result of the hard work and preparation of our students, parents, and educators,” said State Superintendent Molly Spearman. 

“Our goal is for every South Carolina student to graduate prepared for success and increased participation and achievement on these national assessments is a great indicator that we are making strides to meet that goal,” concluded Spearman.

South Carolina saw growth in all three major areas of AP participation and performance. The number of students taking exams increased 8.6% to 30,943. The number of exams increased 8.8% % to 49,071 exams. South Carolina students scoring three or higher on AP exams increased 7% to 27,735 exams. Students participating in STEM exams have more than doubled over the past ten years from 7,436 exams in 2007 to 14,391 in 2017.

AP exam scores of three indicate a candidate who is qualified to take college-level courses. Scores of four indicate someone who is well-qualified and a five indicates someone who is extremely well-qualified. Colleges and universities often grant class credit and use AP scores of three or more to place students in higher course levels.

The number of minority students participating in AP exams increased 12.4% from 2016. Minority students receiving scores of three or more increased 3.5%.

7,176 South Carolina students were named AP Scholars, meaning they scored three or higher on three or more AP exams.

VirtualSC, the nation’s fifth largest state sponsored online course offeror, is pleased to be the first EVER online provider of the AP Capstone program. New for the 2017-2018 school year, VirtualSC’s AP Capstone provide outstanding academic achievement opportunities and attainment of college-level academic and research skills for students through rigorous course offerings. VirtualSC offers 10 AP courses for public, private, and homeschool students through its online platform as well as test preparation information.


During the 2015-2016 school year, the test maker of SAT, the College Board, redesigned the SAT assessment.  A total of 19,605 or 46% of the class of 2017 took the redesigned SAT assessment.

The new SAT relies on two main components, Evidence Based Reading and Writing (ERW) and Math. The Essay section is optional. Scores range from 400 to 1600 overall with 200 to 800 coming from ERW and 200 – 800 coming from Math.

South Carolina’s overall mean score was 1058, four points above the national mean of 1054. SC’s mean ERW score was 539, eight points above the national mean of 531. The state math mean, 518, was slightly below the national mean of 523. 44% of SC test takers met both ERW and Math College and Career Ready Benchmarks.

African American student participation accounted for 28% of all test takers which more than double the national participation rate of 14%. 

During the 2017 legislative session, the South Carolina General Assembly passed and Governor McMaster signed, Act. 94, which provides that beginning in the 2017-2018 school year all eleventh grade students must be offered a college entrance assessment. In the twelfth grade, and as aligned to the student’s Individual Graduation Plan, the State shall provide all students the opportunity to take or retake a college readiness assessment as funds are available at no cost to the students. Prior to the 2017-2018 school year all students were required to take the ACT college entrance exam. Requirements for taking a career readiness assessment remain unchanged.

SAT scores can be viewed by following this link.

Advanced Placement scores can be viewed by following this link.