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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

SAT Scores: Top Girls vs. Top Boys – Who Wins?

The Duke University Talent Identification Program evaluates S.A.T. and A.C.T. tests taken by the top 5% of seventh graders in order to identify gifted students and further nurture their intellectual talents. The most recent study included over 1.6 million students, and its results continue the historical pattern of showing different performances for girls versus boys.

Among those scoring 700 or higher on the verbal portion of the S.A.T., girls scored slightly higher than boys. However, the number of seventh grade boys who scored 700 or higher on the math portion of the S.A.T. significantly outnumbered the girls - by a ratio of approximately 4 to 1. This gap between high scoring boys and girls in the math portion has remained essentially the same for the last 15 years (the gap was much greater than that prior to 1995). It is perhaps a bit surprising that this gap has not narrowed, given the greater emphasis on encouraging women to focus on math and science in the last few decades.