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The SAT II: Minority/Majority Test-Score Gaps and What They Could Mean for College Admissions


  • *This article is based on confidential data protected by federal and Texas law. Those wishing to use this data for replication purposes should send a proposal to the Director of the Texas Schools Project at the University of Texas at Dallas, Mail Station GC21, PO Box 830688, Richardson, TX 75083-0688. This work is supported by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and would not have been possible without the cooperation of the Cecil and Ida Green Center for the Study of Science and Society at the University of Texas at Dallas. I would also like to thank Robert K. Toutkoushian, Julie L. Hotchkiss, Sheryl L. Skaggs, Teresa D. Nelson, T. Robert Harris, the late John F. Kain, and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments and assistance.

M. Kathleen Thomas, Department of Finance and Economics, Mississippi State University, PO Box 9580, Mississippi State, MS 39762


Objective. Although most colleges and universities do not currently use SAT II subject tests to make admissions decisions, changing sentiment against aptitude tests could lead to more widespread use of the SAT II. This study examines score gaps on the SAT II between white and minority students.

Methods. Using data from the Texas Schools Microdata Panel, I estimate the influence of race/ethnicity on SAT II writing scores after controlling for sample selection.

Results. This study shows that although the average white student performs better than the average minority student on the SAT II writing exam, Asian and black students outperform white students when controlling for academic performance, family background, and high school fixed effects, while allowing different returns to characteristics.

Conclusions. These score gaps reverse only if the average minority student is given the same characteristics as the average white student. Unequal incomes and educational environments virtually ensure these score gaps will endure well into the future.

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