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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on the number of Minnesota students who took the ACT college entrance exam this year.

The Minnesota Department of Education says only 60 percent of the graduating class of 2021 took the test. Typically, around 90 percent of Minnesota students take the ACT while the national participation rate is nearly 50 percent. That rate was only about 35 percent this year.

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A news release shows the average composite score for Minnesota students this year was 21.6. That is three-tenths of a percentage point above the composite score posted by members of the class of 2020. Nationally, the average composite score dropped three-tenths of a point to 20.3. State education officials say 32 percent of Minnesota's class of 2021 were able to meet all four ACT benchmarks, compared with 25 percent nationally.

The report also shows each racial/ethnic student group in Minnesota saw an increase in their average composite scores this year. However, the differences between the average composite scores from the different groups were largely unchanged and have been steady for the past five years.

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