Average national scores on two of the three sections of the SAT college entrance exam edged down for the high school class of 2012, which was the first in which more students took the rival ACT exam than the SAT, the Associated Press reports. The ACT narrowly surpassed the SAT, by fewer than 2,000 test-takers out of about 1.65 million who took each exam. But the cross-over is no surprise. The number taking the ACT — historically more popular in the central states with the SAT more popular on the East and West coasts — has been growing more rapidly, partly because the ACT is now taken by virtually all students in nine states under the state testing regimen. Delaware is the only state with 100 percent SAT participation, though in most Northeastern states participation is at least 75 percent. Because of the wide geographic variations in participation, comparisons among average state scores are not considered meaningful…

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staff and wire services reports