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Number of Students Taking Exams Grows

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The ranks of students taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test and the American College Testing program assessment have grown in spite of the drop in the number of 18-year-olds.

This year, 1,134,364 students took the sat--a 5 percent increase over 1987 and a 13 percent jump since 1986. There were 842,322 students who took the act this year--8.3 percent more than last year.

Officials suggested that the increase was fueled by growth in the proportion of high-school graduates who aspire to college and by a greater interest in the tests among minority students.

"We can only speculate that more young people in the 18- to 21-year-old cohort are going on to college," said Donald M. Stewart, president of the College Board.

"We're going deeper and deeper into the pool, and that's encouraging," he continued. "There is a realization that a college education is becoming a necessity."

Frank Burtnett, executive director of the National Association of College Admissions Counselors, agreed with that assessment.

"If educational reform is working in America, then more and more students are going to seek postsecondary education," he said. "There does seem to be a greater interest among 15- to 17-year-olds in college as an option. More students are coming to college fairs."

Mr. Stewart suggested that much of the boost is coming among minority groups and women.

Robert G. Cameron, director of research and development for the College Board, said that 23,066 more minority students took the sat in 1988 than in 1987.

Minority students made up nearly half the increase in the number of students who took the sat this year, Mr. Cameron said, adding that minorities now represent 23 percent of all test-takers, compared with 11 percent in 1973.

Although the number of blacks taking the test declined in the early 1980's, it has since rebounded.

This year, 97,483 blacks took the test. That number represents an increase of 39 percent over the 1985 level.

Blacks taking the act last year numbered 69,509--a 17.8 percent increase over 1985.--mw

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