Judging by the number of test takers, the SAT is not necessarily the test of choice anymore for high school students in the region or the state planning to go to college, but test scores released this week do show the state's average score was higher than the national average.
The College Board, the organization that produces the SAT, released states' and school districts' scores on the 2017 college entrance exam Tuesday. South Carolina's public schools' average total score of 1058 on the 1600-point scale bested the national average of 1044. Score data represents public high school seniors in the Class of 2017. According to the data, 46 percent of the state's seniors took the SAT during high school.
South Carolina seniors' average Evidence-based Reading and Writing score was 539, compared to the national average of 527. The state's average math score was 518, compared to the national average of 517.
Average scores among public high school students in the tri-county region generally lagged state and U.S. averages, at least slightly.
The 2017 version of the SAT is a redesigned test and results can't be compared to previous years, according to a state Department of Education spokesperson. In 2016, scores were based on a 2400-point scale, but in its latest version the College Board made the essay section optional as part of its redesign.
S.C. Education Superintendent Molly Spearman touted the state's performance.
"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," Spearman said in a news release.
In the tri-county region - for analysis purposes - in only three of the five school districts did at least 20 percent of seniors in the Class of 2017 take the SAT during high school. Those were Sumter School District, Clarendon School District 3 in Turbeville and Lee County School District.
Clarendon 3 - which represents East Clarendon High School - had the highest average total score of those districts at 1035. Sumter followed next with a mean score of 987, and Lee was next with an 820 composite score.
Clarendon School District 2 in Manning had 10 seniors in the Class of 2017 who took the SAT in high school, and those seniors had an average total score of 1110. Four seniors in the Class of 2017 in Clarendon School District 1 - which represents Scott's Branch High School - took the SAT, but because the school had less than five test takers, the College Board didn't publish its average scores.
The College Board reported that 19,605 South Carolina public high school seniors in the Class of 2017 took the SAT while in high school. During the last two years, the state has required every 11th-grader to take the ACT, another college admissions exam.
That SAT number in all likelihood will increase this year under a new state law that allows high school juniors to select between the SAT and ACT for their mandatory, college-readiness exam.
The College Board also released results this week for its Advanced Placement exams. A total of 30,870 public high school students in the state took 48,886 AP exams last school year, up about 9 percent in both categories. About 56.5 percent of the tests taken in the state received a score of 3 or higher, a common threshold for course credit at many colleges and considered a pass rate.
The most popular AP exams given last year in South Carolina were English Language and Composition, U.S. History and Human Geography.
Only two districts in the region - Sumter and Clarendon 2 - had students who took AP exams last school year. A total of 76 Sumter School District students took 85 AP exams with passing scores on 26 exams, or 30.6 percent. Thirty-two Clarendon 2 students took one AP exam each with six scoring a 3 or higher, or 18.8 percent.