The average scores of Fairfax County high school seniors on the Scholastic Aptitude Test continued their zigzag of the last decade, dropping six points in the verbal section and one point in math from last year, according to figures released last week.

Performance of Fairfax students on the SAT, which is required for admission to most of the nation's selective colleges, has risen and fallen in no discernible pattern in recent years. Since 1982, verbal scores have risen steadily only two years -- in 1984 and 1985 -- and math scores increased or stayed the same in four years, 1984 through 1987.

Dolores Bohen, assistant superintendent for communications, said too much emphasis is placed on year-to-year fluctuations. She said county scores are about the same as they were 10 years ago, which is good, considering that such a large number of students took the test and that many minority students, for whom English is not a first language, were participants.

Is being at the same place as 10 years ago good? "Yes, when you're 40 or more points above the national norm," Bohen said.

Scores on each half of the two-hour multiple-choice test range from 200 to 800 points. The math section tests arithmetic reasoning and skills in algebra and geometry. The verbal section measures vocabulary and reading comprehension.

Nationally, students scored 424 on the verbal section, compared with 425 in Virginia and 457 in Fairfax. On the math section, students nationally averaged 476, compared with 470 for the state and 519 in Fairfax. Last year, Fairfax students scored 463 on the verbal section, 520 in math.

Bohen said the continuing influx of minorities, from 9 percent of the county school population to 26 percent within 10 years, has not altered the county's test results.

"Most of our minority kids are achieving at the national norm," Bohen said. "Our largest minority group is non-English speaking. You imagine those kids have a handicap taking those tests. It is not intended to be a blanket statement, but the picture nationally is that many of the minority kids come with some handicaps in academic achievement." She said the county has "so many high-achieving minority youngsters and youngsters achieving at the national norm."

Math scores for whites and Asians have increased during the last few years. Scores for blacks declined this year, and Hispanics' math scores, after increasing in 1988, have dropped the last two years.

In the verbal section, scores for whites and blacks have fluctuated, and those for Hispanics and Asians rose in 1988 and 1989, then declined this year.

Blacks scored almost 100 points lower on the verbal section than whites and 126 points lower in math. Asian and Hispanic verbal scores were about 40 points higher than those of blacks, but still almost 60 points lower than for whites.

Whites outscored other groups in verbal skills, but Asians got the highest scores in math this year.

The percentage of black students taking the test has risen steadily from 4.2 percent in 1987 to 6.0 percent this year. The percentage of Hispanic test-takers increased from 2.6 percent to 3.9 percent, and Asians rose from 8.5 percent to 11.8 percent this year.

The school with the highest average scores was Thomas Jefferson, the science and technology school. Its students scored 590 on the verbal section, the same as last year, and 695 on the math section, seven points lower than the previous year.

Males continued to outperform females. Boys averaged 460 in verbal and girls scored 455. In math, boys scored 538 and girls scored 500.

"We've been working a long time with minority kids, with girls in math and science, to do the kind of positive {motivation} that would make girls feel good about themselves in math and science," Bohen said. "We do the same thing with minority kids . . . to make them have high expectations."

........... FOR GRADUATING SENIORS IN FAIRFAX COUNTY .............

........................... VERBAL .................. MATH .......

SCHOOL ........... 1988 .. 1989 .. 1990 ..... 1988 .. 1989 .. 1990

Annandale ......... 450 ... 422 ... 414 ...... 512 ... 501 ... 484

Chantilly ......... 454 ... 441 ... 438 ...... 511 ... 494 ... 496

Edison ............ 407 ... 412 ... 400 ...... 471 ... 482 ... 471

Fairfax ........... 438 ... 451 ... 444 ...... 500 ... 505 ... 502

Falls Church ...... 423 ... 430 ... 419 ...... 490 ... 485 ... 481

Hayfield .......... 440 ... 431 ... 421 ...... 486 ... 471 ... 475

Herndon ........... 450 ... 454 ... 447 ...... 505 ... 496 ... 495

Thomas Jefferson .. --- ... 590 ... 590 ...... --- ... 702 ... 695

Lake Braddock ..... 469 ... 472 ... 458 ...... 526 ... 529 ... 522

Langley ........... 493 ... 498 ... 497 ...... 553 ... 553 ... 560

Lee ............... 436 ... 435 ... 428 ...... 504 ... 494 ... 486

Madison ........... 466 ... 479 ... 460 ...... 538 ... 527 ... 528

Marshall .......... 430 ... 434 ... 430 ...... 490 ... 500 ... 504

McLean ............ 485 ... 481 ... 465 ...... 544 ... 551 ... 540

Mount Vernon ...... 433 ... 420 ... 428 ...... 504 ... 482 ... 490

Oakton ............ 459 ... 451 ... 455 ...... 515 ... 509 ... 511

Robinson .......... 472 ... 471 ... 469 ...... 521 ... 521 ... 523

South Lakes ....... 479 ... 472 ... 472 ...... 523 ... 526 ... 523

Stuart ............ 424 ... 413 ... 400 ...... 495 ... 477 ... 458

West Potomac ...... 453 ... 457 ... 459 ...... 498 ... 496 ... 499

West Springfield .. 479 ... 478 ... 471 ...... 535 ... 526 ... 533

Woodson ........... 478 ... 489 ... 491 ...... 530 ... 544 ... 535

FAIRFAX COUNTY .... 458 ... 463 ... 457 ...... 516 ... 520 ... 519