Harford County high school college-bound seniors who took the SAT during the 2012-13 school year posted strong gains across the board in the important college entrance examination.
Average scores on each part of the three-part test rose from four to six points, according to Harford County Public Schools.
The test is claimed to measure a student's ability to do college level work.
Students are tested in critical reading, math and writing, with the test scored between 200 and 800 points for each part, with 2,400 being the highest composite score.
Last year, Harford SAT takers had an average composite score of 1,515, up 15 points from the 2011-12 average of 1,500 and 17 points higher than the 2010-11 average of 1,498.
The latest Harford composite averages beat both the state and national averages, as they have done consistently in prior years.
The College Board, which administers the SAT, says a composite score of 1,550 or higher is the benchmark for what it calls "college and career readiness." The data it publishes for each senior class is based on the students' latest scores if they took the test more than once during a high school career.
According to the College Board's annual report on college and career readiness: "The Benchmark score of 1,550 is associated with a 65 percent probability of obtaining a first-year GPA of B- or higher, which in turn associated with a high degree of college success. Studies show that students who meet the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark are more likely to enroll in a four-year college, more likely to earn a higher first year GPA and more likely to persist beyond a first year of college and complete their degree."
In 2012-13, the benchmark was attained by just 43 percent of the SAT test takers nationwide, a figure the College Board says has been consistent for five years.
Last year's Harford test-takers had an average score of 520 on the SAT math test, up four points from 2011-12 and eight points from 2010-11.
The average SAT critical reading score in Harford last year rose to 509, up six points from 2011-12, when the average score dipped slightly. Last year's performance put the Harford average three points ahead of where it was in 2010-11.
On the SAT writing test, Harford test-takers had an average score of 486 last year, up five points from 1011-12 and six points better than the 2010-11 average.
Additional information on last year's SAT performance in Harford, including the number of students who took the test last school year and the scores at individual high schools, remained unavailable Thursday.
Teri Kranefeld, director of communications for the school system, said the accountability office is still analyzing the SAT data which it received at a busy time of the year with other projects also being done.
Kranefeld called the across-the-board gains in Harford's average scores "good news."
Nationally, 1.66 million SAT-takers posted average scores of 496 in reading, 514 in math and 488 writing, a composite of 1,498, according to the College Board.
In Maryland, 48,000 SAT-takers posted average scores of 497 in reading, 500 in math and 486 in writing, for a composite of 1,483, according to the College Board.