Compared with students whose parents were college graduates,3 first-generation students were less likely to have taken calculus in high school (20 percent versus 34 percent). A full 40 percent of first-generation students did not exceed the core New Basics curriculum. Furthermore, while about one-fifth of students whose parents had a bachelor's degree took rigorous courses in high school, just 9 percent of first-generation students did so.
First-generation students were also less likely to take college entrance examinations, and when they did, they were more likely than their peers to have lower scores. Whereas 15 percent of students whose parents were college graduates scored 790 points or lower on the SAT or ACT (i.e., the lowest quartile), almost 40 percent of first-generation students scored in this quartile. On the SAT II, first-generation students were more likely than their counterparts whose parents were college graduates to score below 550 points and less likely to score 650 points or more. Finally, a lower proportion of first-generation students reported taking any Advanced Placement (AP) tests than did both students whose parents had attended college and those whose parents had graduated (8 percent versus 14 percent and 22 percent, respectively).