US students outperform Chinese in SATs

Updated: 2011-12-02 14:44

By Yang Jie (

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Chinese students are surpassed by their US counterparts at the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) needed to enter a US university, according to a report published by DK Education, an overseas study agency based in Beijing.

The first annual report on the SAT performance of Chinese students found the average score was 1,213 points out of the total of 2,400, some 296 points lower than US students and 337 points lower than the benchmark set by College Board, the organizer of the test.

The gap is mainly derived from the reading and writing parts of the test. Chinese students scored 170 points less than US students in the reading part, which reveals Chinese students lack training in critical thinking, according to the report.

Chinese students, known to excel in mathematics, earned 547 points out of the total of 800, only 30 points higher than US students. The report attributed the lower-than-expected performance to Chinese students' poor knowledge of English mathematical terms and the test is aimed at a junior level which is easier for US students.

Regionally speaking, Beijing students performed best with an average score of 1,446 points, which is followed by students in South China's Guangdong province with an average score of 1,388 and Shanghai students with an average score of 1,211, according to the report.

As Chinese families become more financially better off thanks to the country's economic growth, an increasing number of Chinese students try to apply to US colleges for better advanced education. The growth is partially due to the fierce competition in the Chinese college entry exam, which is an annual event that takes place in June.

The Chinese test emphasizes memorization while the SAT consists of three 800-point sections - mathematics, critical reading and writing – focusing on independent thinking and creativity, which many US colleges deem as indispensible for academic studies.

At present, no SAT test centers have been set up on the Chinese mainland and students often travel to Hong Kong or Singapore to take the exam. The SAT test is held six times each year – in January, May, June, October, November and December - outside the US, where the test is organized seven times a year.