Tag Archives: test scores

Why have the SAT and ACT become so important in the college admissions process? Basically because most admissions officers can use the objective metrics these tests provide to better evaluate more subjective data like grades and class rank. Like it or not, the SAT and ACT provide awesome opportunities for students to enhance their applications. But exams like these do have obvious drawbacks, the most glaring of which is that a given test score represents a snapshot of student performance on one long weekend morning, rather than over a longer period of time. Talk about pressure! However, various changes in both how scores are reported and how they are evaluated have taken some of that pressure off. On the testing side, both the College Board and ACT, Inc. allow students to select which test scores they wish to send. This benefit, which was a long time coming on the SAT…

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Everyone seems into life hacks these days. When looking at college admissions, test prep has always been one of the best ways to hack the system. But the same innate gamesmanship that allows someone to see the dramatic impact of improving scores also breeds an instinct to further optimize that process. Such a person might question what the rest of the world takes for granted. For example, is a perfect SAT or ACT score really the best score for admissions purposes? On Quora, someone asked the question, “What is the most ridiculous thing a top student has ever said to you?” Kay Aull, an insightful MIT grad, shared his memory of this truly ridiculous rumor: In high school, there was a rumor going around that it was better to get a 1590 on the SATs, rather than the full 1600, for college admissions. The theory was, someone with a 1590…

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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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Has college admissions testing ever been this competitive? I’m not speaking from the test taker’s perspective, though today’s teens seem to fighting harder than ever for seats at name-brand colleges. But the test makers are under massive pressure from each other, traditional testing opponents, and even upstarts trying to break into the lucrative admissions exam market. Economists assure us that competition benefits consumers by driving performance and innovation. One way ACT, Inc. seeks to maintain the top position in the admissions test arms race is by delivering more value in the basic ACT score report. The test maker out of Iowa City has tracked what it calls ACT College Readiness Benchmarks. The College Readiness Benchmarks describe, for each ACT section, the minimum score 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…

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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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When the College Board returned to the old 1600 SAT scale, many felt as if order was restored to the universe. But the revised SAT introduced more than just the familiar scale. The current test provides more score information than ever before, including subscores and cross-test scores. Why the SAT added all these extra performance measurements may not, at first or even second glance, be clear. Sure, the ACT includes subscores and something like cross-test scores, but the extra data doesn’t seem to influence admissions decisions. Much of the time, schools can’t even be bothered to look at essay scores, so why would subscores matter? Consider today’s SAT a multipurpose tool. Of course, the test remains an influential college admissions test. But the College Board has charted a course towards the lucrative state testing market as well. When the organization redesigned the SAT, they had K–12 educators and counselors firmly…

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