George Wythe High School graduation

George Wythe High School graduate Khalifa Kane (left) got a hug from Marianne Berkley as Ariel Finney helped Charmeisha Bolling before their commencement in June in Richmond.

The average Virginia student fared better on the SAT this year than students across the U.S., according to data released Tuesday.

Virginia students who graduated in the class of 2019 had an average score of 1119, compared with a 1059 average nationwide, according to the College Board, the company that administers the college readiness exam.

The SAT is taken voluntarily by high school students and is often used by colleges, along with the ACT, to help determine admission.

The ACT has yet to release its results for the class of 2019.

While Virginia’s average score increased 2 points compared to last year, the number of students in the graduating class dropped slightly from 61,576 last year to 61,182 this year. That means 68% of graduating seniors took the SAT during high school, according to the College Board.

Achievement gaps persist in the state.

About 1 in 5 Virginia SAT takers were black and posted an average score of 972. White students were 52% percent of the state’s cohort and scored an average of 1159.

Seventeen percent of SAT takers in Virginia used a fee waiver, which allows students meeting specific income eligibility standards to take the test for free. Across the country, 19% of students in the class of 2019 took the SAT with a fee waiver.

More than 2.2 million U.S. students in the class of 2019 took the SAT test, the College Board said.

At least 10 states — Virginia is not one — give the SAT to public school students for free. The test costs $49.50 without the administration of an optional essay, according to the College Board.

More higher education institutions no longer require SAT or ACT scores to help determine admission, or give the scores less weight. The number of schools no longer requiring SAT or ACT scores has grown to about 1,000 schools across the U.S. — including Virginia Commonwealth University — according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing.

VCU no longer requires applicants with a high school GPA of 3.3 or higher to submit SAT scores.

“We are not denying a transformative education to students who we know would flourish here just because they don’t have a certain SAT score,” VCU President Michael Rao said in 2015 when the university announced the change.

Roughly 3 in 4 test takers had their scores sent to higher education institutions, with the most in Virginia being sent to VCU, James Madison University, the University of Virginia, George Mason University and Virginia Tech.

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