High school students in Anne Arundel County scored 1059 out of a possible 1600 on the SATs, a four-point increase from the previous year and the highest county average in a decade, school officials said.

School Superintendent Eric J. Smith said he was pleased by the results, which were released Tuesday. He attributed the gains to "kids that are bright, that are college bound, that have expected a lot from themselves and benefit from strong teachers."

This year the county math score increased by one point, to 536, while the verbal score went up three points, to 523.

The county's combined SAT score is higher than the state and national average of 1026. Still, it is lower than that of several surrounding school districts. Howard County students earned an average score of 1094, and Montgomery County was one of the few large school districts in the nation to post an average above 1100.

According to a news release, seven of Anne Arundel's 12 high schools saw gains in their average SAT scores this year. Severna Park ranked the highest in the county with an average score of 1138. Meade's average score of 982 was the lowest in the county.

Seven of the county's high schools posted results above the state and national averages: Annapolis, Broadneck, Chesapeake, Old Mill, Severna Park, South River and Southern.

The SAT is a national standardized test required by most colleges during the application process. It consists of math and verbal sections. Students usually take the exam during their junior or senior years. In March, the Educational Testing Service, which develops the test, will unveil a revamped SAT that includes a writing section, higher-level math and more reading passages.

That test will present new challenges to Smith, who has promised to boost the scores of black and Hispanic students, which have long lagged behind those of white students. However, he said Tuesday that he has not looked at SAT scores for minority students this year and could not comment on them.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, school officials were unable to provide a breakdown of the county's SAT results by racial group.

Last year, black students' SAT scores in the county jumped 15 points, from 876 to 891. That gain, however, came after two years of steady declines during which black students' scores dropped 37 points.

Smith said he expects increases in SAT scores in the future because of "long-term investments" at the middle and high school levels. He said that the county offers algebra and geometry at all middle schools and that the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses has doubled.

A four-point rise in SAT scores pleased schools chief Eric Smith.