Tag Archives: percentiles

One of the many choices college-bound students must grapple with–apart from, say, which schools to apply to–is whether to focus on the SAT or ACT. The two tests overlap significantly in terms of content and structure, but their design philosophies reward different types of test takers. All colleges accept both tests equally, so students can lead with whichever one best showcases their particular strengths. However, the two dramatically different scoring schemes of the SAT and ACT have made determining how scores compare challenging to say the least. In the past, College Board and ACT have collaborated on concordance tables intended to establish the relationship between scores on these two assessments that measure similar but not identical constructs. After the big changes to the SAT in 2015, College Board released an SAT/ACT concordance table without any input from ACT, prompting the Iowa City test maker to blast the effort. At last,…

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Considering how many decades the SAT has been around, you’d think we’d have a better handle on that signature 200-800 scale. Everyone grasps that 200 is as low as a scorer can go and that scores improve as they rise towards a perfect 800. But how much better is a 670 than a 620 or a 520? Arbitrary scaled test scores only make sense when we see their percentiles, the depiction of what percentage of the testing population we scored higher than. The College Board has finally released the first set of SAT percentiles for the version of the test introduced in March 2016. Beyond the discussion of SAT total scores, section scores, subscores, and cross-test scores, we find percentile ranks based on two different reference populations: The Nationally Representative Sample Percentile compares your score to the scores of typical 11th- and 12th-grade U.S. students. According to the College Board,…

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American high school students take a staggering number of tests, each seemingly scored on a different arbitrary scale. Traditional school tests are usually scored on a 100-point scales, but APs are scored 1-5, ACTs 1-36, and SATs 200-800 per section. How can you possibly tell how well you’re scoring with so many different score ranges? If you want to understand score performance, you must look at percentiles. In simple terms, your percentile or percentile rank describes what percentage of the testing population you scored higher than. For example, a score in the 60th percentile is higher than 60% of all the scores for that population. With percentiles and test scores, the higher the better. Unfortunately for students taking the spring SAT, percentile data wasn’t expected because, well, comparing student performance on a test that has never been administered before is pretty difficult. We provided the means to approximate percentiles for…

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Colleges today do students a big favor by accepting SAT and ACT scores equally for admissions purposes. Students can choose the test that suits them best and only submit scores that cast their abilities in the best light. The big challenge becomes determining which scores are better, in terms of placing you higher in the continuum of test achievement. Complicating the mix even further, students who took the previous version of the SAT can still submit those scores to colleges as well. But should they? We cannot just assume that scores of 600 on the three sections of the old SAT equate to 600s on each section of the new one; these tests differ in profound ways. The College Board purports to make comparisons simple through the new SAT Score Converter mobile app and online tool. The main function of the SAT Score Converter is to compare old and new…

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NOTE: Thanks to the summer 2016 release of percentile data, we have published a new post on Easier 2016 SAT Percentiles. With the first administration of the new format SAT rapidly approaching, we see lots of students starting to work through tests in the Official SAT Study Guide (2016 Edition). Scoring the new SAT turns out to be much easier these days, especially when you ignore the subscores and cross-test scores. Understanding what those scores mean, however, appears a lot tougher. The problem, of course, lies in the very arbitrary nature of the 200-800 scale. Obviously, scores improve as they rise towards a perfect 800. But how much better is a 670 than a 620 or a 520? We can only understand the true achievement our test scores represent when we see their percentiles, the depiction of what percentage of the testing population we scored higher than. Too bad the College…

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For a moment, the ACT stood ascendant as the college admissions test to beat, the safe harbor for all students and schools fearful of that scary, new SAT. The masterminds in Iowa City outflanked the College Board at every turn to finally usurp the throne. …Then came the Enhanced ACT Writing Test in September 2015. Changing the ACT Writing assignment was not, on its face, a bad idea. The ACT’s ongoing positioning as a state standards test has triggered the inclusion of lots of data points of more value to school administrators than college admissions officers. At least ACT continues to test persuasive writing, which is more than can be said for the competition. Changing the ACT Writing Test in mid-stream, as it were, made little sense. Traditionally, major test changes are introduced in the spring in deference to the college admissions cycle. Not only are changes often accompanied by…

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