RALEIGH -

North Carolina's average combined score on the SAT college-entrance exam fell again in 2012.

The state Department of Public Instruction said Monday that average scores on each of the three sections fell by two points compared to 2011. Critical reading scores dropped to 491, math scores fell to 506 and writing dropped to 472.

Nationally, average scores on the critical reading fell one point to 496 and scores in the writing sections fell one point to 488. Math scores remained steady at 514. The maximum score on each section is 800.

The number of students taking Advanced Placement exams increased 7.8 percent and the number of scores high enough to get college credit increased 7.2 percent.