This graph shows the trends in average birth order of American babies born between 1949-1987 and similar trends in the mean test scores for the subset of each birth cohort that has taken the SAT or ACT college entrance examinations through 1998. (Those born in 1980 took the test this past academic year.) Because the average birth order is flat through 1987, Psychology Prof. Robert Zajonc expects the mean scores, especially in mathematics, to remain flat for the next few years as well. In the birth order scale, at left, a rank of 3.0 would mean that, on average, babies born in that year were the third child in their families. Average birth order is calculated by averaging the number of first, second, third, etc., births for a given year.

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