Tag Archives: test scores

When test scores come back, making sense of it all can be overwhelming. Composite scores, section scores, percentiles—it’s a lot to decipher, and people taking the SAT or ACT for the first time are often surprised by subscores. These tests are broken down into sections, but the sections break down even further into different types of questions. Subscores measure how well you did on each of these types, and they show up on score reports in a couple of different ways: for the SAT, they’re listed at the bottom of the first page, and for the ACT (which calls them Reporting Categories), they’re listed under Detailed Results. The SAT measures seven different subscores: Command of Evidence Words in Context Expression of Ideas Standard English Conventions Heart of Algebra Problem Solving and Data Analysis Passport to Advanced Math On the ACT, each section measures three Reporting Categories. In English: Production of…

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Often, we focus so much on high stakes tests that we fail to recognize them merely as intermediate steps to a larger goal. The SAT and ACT, for example, matter quite a lot, but mainly only for students striving for their choice of four-year college. And while we sometimes miss the big picture, the test makers always keep that test-to-college connection firmly in view. This, in a nutshell, explains why ACT, Inc. provides ACT College Readiness Benchmarks. The 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 is approximately 39th percentile. ACT Math is associated with…

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For students and parents accustomed to their high schools’ grading scales, standardized test scores can feel inscrutable. Bad enough that every exam adopts its own arbitrary scale, but the test scores they produce show little relation to the number of questions a tester may answer correctly. Even more confusing, test scores and school grades are not at all aligned. Perfect grades definitely don’t translate to perfect or even excellent test scores, depending, of course, on the complex interactions between students, teachers, and assessments. Yet, if understanding what a given test score means is difficult, comprehending the magnitude of an increase from one score to another can be exponentially more challenging. How should someone who isn’t an educational professional recognize that a 2-point improvement is outstanding on an AP exam, good on the ACT, and too low to measure on the SAT? Obviously, the easiest way to appreciate the impact of…

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In what is starting to become an annual tradition, I recorded a special parent seminar on testing and admissions for College and Career Night at an awesome local school district. I look forward to the days when convening large groups live and in-person doesn’t feel so fraught with peril, because asynchronous sessions don’t allow for real-time dialog. On the bright side, once an updated informational seminar is recorded, it can be shared infinitely. So enjoy! College Admissions Testing for the HS Classes of 2022 and 2023 Q&A What are the SAT and ACT, why do they matter, and what can and should teens and their families do about them during this dynamic moment in college admissions history? The admissions landscape has seen more change over the last three years than during the three decades before that, so make sure you stay on top of the newest developments: — Will the…

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Are you feeling crushed under the burden of unreasonable expectations, fretting because your test scores reveal flaws in a previously pristine academic career? You’re not the only one: millions of honor students over the years have struggled to reconcile the sometimes canyon-like chasm between their high school grades and their SAT & ACT scores. Why don’t perfect students earn perfect scores? When we think about SAT & ACT scores, we need to get comfortable with big numbers. After all, these tests are the ultimate expressions of the concept of grading on a curve. More people sit for the SAT or ACT in a given year, for example, than ever auditioned for American Idol even at the height of its popularity. If you can recall scene after scene of hopeful stars filling stadiums and crowding streets for a shot at fame, you’d need to multiply those crowds by a factor of…

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The world sure has changed a lot over the last thirty years, hasn’t it? I remember the absolute thrill of the earliest days of video games, when playing Pong or Space Invaders represented the cutting edge of fun. Yet, my son’s PS 4 renders games in real time with all the cinematic realism of feature films. If we recognize on a daily basis the quantum leaps technology makes every 18 months or so, why do we cling to a view of college that still resembles higher ed in the 20th century? Everything we think we know about college–from applying to attending to paying for the privilege–is changing at a rate that even professionals cannot keep up with. Believe me, I know. Every week, I speak with counselors, educations, and admissions professionals who study higher education from every angle. We all observe a lot more misinformation and myths than actual facts.…

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