COLUMBIA - South Carolina seniors scored near the bottom nationally on the American College Test, an entrance requirement for many colleges and universities.
The state's graduating seniors scored an 18.9 average on the 1997 test, American College Test, Inc. officials said Tuesday. Almost 5,000 students - about 13 percent of the state's seniors - took the test, which is used to gauge college readiness.
That's a small drop from the last two years, when seniors here averaged a 19.1. The highest possible ACT score is 36.
The vast majority of South Carolina seniors take the Scholastic Assessment Test. The 1997 SAT scores should be available later this year.
The ACT tests curriculum-based and classroom-based achievement, while the SAT is an implied learning test that measures how students think based on their experiences in and out of the classroom setting, the state Education Department said.
Only students in Mississippi and Washington D.C. scored lower than those in South Carolina on the ACT this year. The 5 percent of Washington, D.C. seniors that took the ACT scored an average of 17.2, while the 79 percent of Mississippi seniors that took the ACT averaged a 18.7.
Washington state had the highest average. The 16 percent of its graduating seniors who took the test averaged a 22.4, ACT officials said.
The national average this year was 21.
South Carolina seniors who took school core courses like algebra, chemistry and American history averaged a 19.7, which students who had not taken core courses scored a 16.8, officials said.
"The ACT test report scores, just like the SAT scores, are directly related to the number of advanced academic courses students take," state Superintendent Barbara Nielsen said. "If you take the tough courses, you are going to score significantly higher."