Tag Archives: test scores

After weeks of hearing speculation, misinformation, and consternation about the future of the SAT and ACT in admissions, I need to share my thoughts on the matter of test optional policies. This article was first published on LinkedIn but found its way back home. COVID-19 has changed the world in more ways than we can count. Certainly, the American education system will never be the same again. Not only have we all become intimately acquainted with the agony and ecstasy of online learning (can’t say teaching because not everyone is doing that) but the traditional path to college seems to be meandering through uncharted territory. A number of schools have explored test optional or test flexible admissions policies, but the current crisis (and a couple of cancelled test dates) seem to have triggered a flood of interest in removing test scores from the admissions equation. But if we accept the…

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A writer in the Wall Street Journal posited an interesting if not provocative question recently, asking “Is It Fair to Award Scholarships Based on the SAT?” Predictably, the arguments against test scores focus more on questions about student diversity and unequal distributions of wealth and resources. They do not, however, seriously address the idea of merit, which is to say a certain standard of academic accomplishment according to which merit aid is awarded. Perhaps a reticence to acknowledge the elephant in the room in this–and countless other think pieces decrying standardized testing–makes sense. After all, for all the problems with the SAT and ACT, the alternative is much worse: grades are even less reliable and more dependent on privilege than test scores. Is the idea that high school grades cannot be entirely trusted a surprise? Presumably, a student’s grades represent a quantitative expression of academic output over the majority of…

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The PSAT/NMSQT serves a number of valuable functions; not only does this test act as the first criterion for National Merit Scholarship recognition, but its scores also offer insight into future SAT results. No, the PSAT is not exactly like the official SAT or even a well-proctored practice SAT, but PSAT scores should give high school juniors a fairly accurate sense of how–in the absence of any other prep, of course–they will score on the SAT. What should we infer, then, from October’s alarmingly low PSAT scores? Anecdotal information has finally been confirmed by College Board, though not in any forum available to the general public. Fortunately, Art Sawyer and his colleagues at Compass Education Group pieced together the fragmented reports available to suss out some alarming conclusions: The number of juniors scoring 1400+ dropped 30%, from 71,000 to less than 50,000. The number of sophomores scoring 1400+ dropped 36%.…

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Everybody knows the old saying, “You reap what you sow.” Just as high school juniors (and some sophomores) take the PSAT in October, so do they receive their scores in December or maybe early January. In some ways, taking the test is the easy part. While there are some good reasons to take the PSAT, the college application is not one of them, since schools won’t use these scores for admissions purposes. This explains why some students–and their parents–might find understanding PSAT scores trickier than answering test questions. To understand the PSAT score report, you must understand both the arbitrary scale and a deceptive similarity to the SAT. PSAT SCALE Anyone who has come up through the American education system understands tests scores on the 1-100 scale or in letter form from A to F. We also grasp the complexities of 4-point GPAs in comparison to 5-point scales. But what…

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With so many critics screeching for an end to standardized exams, you’d think their primary objections centered around how anachronistic #2 pencils seem in a digital age or how debilitating the pressure of a high stakes test can be for parents. Sometimes, though, the real threat of testing lies in what truths the scores reveal. Even if you loathe the idea of college entrance exams playing a significant role in college admissions–even though you shouldn’t–you’ll want to consider the implications of ACT’s annual College Readiness Benchmarks report. College Readiness Benchmarks are the minimum scores in each section of the ACT associated with a 50% chance of earning a B or better and approximately a 75% chance of earning a C or better in the corresponding college course or courses: ACT English is associated with introductory English Composition classes. The ACT Benchmark for English is a scale score of 18, which…

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As long as humans have been aware of the passage of time, we’ve hated waiting. English poet Sarah Doudney tapped into this outrage in 1871 when she penned the verse, “But the waiting time, my brothers, is the hardest time of all.” American poet Tom Petty put his own inimitable spin on this sentiment in 1981. Waiting hurts, especially when you’re waiting for your test scores. In a sense, sitting for a high stakes standardized test like the SAT or ACT ends on a frustrating note. So much time and energy–and no small amount of anxiety–go into preparing (if you do it right) and taking the test. Once time is called on that last section, though, nothing else happens… for weeks. Every test taker goes home empty handed and the waiting game begins. So, how long should someone expect to wait for test scores to be announced? College Board does…

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