Posts Tagged ‘SAT grading’

Super Scoring and You

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

What is Super Scoring and what does it mean for me? How does it affect my SAT process?

Super Scoring

Super Scoring

The SAT testing process is a long and daunting one. Hours of study, hours of preparation, hours of anxiety, and hours of test taking don’t make for a generally easy or enjoyable experience.  Few things along this road make your life easier, so when you find something that does, grab a hold of it and use it for all its worth.  One such thing is Super Scoring.

Super Scoring is the informal practice of poaching sectional scores from various SAT testings to make one optimal test score.  Meaning, if you take the SAT multiple times, you can pick your best math score from one test, your best writing score from another test, and your best reading score from yet a different test to form a super score.  Under the lens of Super Scoring, you can view your SAT testing as a process, and not a series of do or die moments.

To be clear, Super Scoring is not something the College Board – the company that creates and administers the SAT – does.  It does not appear on your score report or your College Board home page. More importantly, Super Scoring is something that many college admissions offices engage in.  And the practice is growing.  Admissions officers want to see you in your best light, so they are considering your achievement on the SAT, through the lens of Super Scoring.  When you visit schools, be sure to ask the admissions office if they Super Score.

As a student, you want to take full advantage of Super Scoring, and this means you should start your SAT process early.  You want to be sure that you are giving yourself adequate opportunities to sit for the SAT test and do your best.  Super Scoring thrives on having numerous test scores to choose from.  Only by thinking ahead and planning your SAT test dates can you reap all the rewards of Super Scoring.

March 2012 SAT Surprising Results

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
SAT exam

SAT exam

If you took the March 2012 SAT, on the morning of Thursday, March 29th you may well have anxiously went online to your College Board account to see your score. For some of you – maybe too many – the scores you saw on the screen may have surprised you…and not in a good way, perhaps. Whatever the case, after sifting through the input of countless students, here’s what we understand as of today, before the online score reports and Student Answer Service data is available:

Students – Virtually every one of them – are seeing expected scores in the Writing section, scores within the lower bound of their mock test median range on Math, but a huge drop (70–100 points) from mock test medians on their Critical Reading.

Experimental Section & Section Sequencing Affected Focus

The results of the March 2012 exam seem, in large part, likely to be caused by the experimental section of the test being an extra Critical Reading section, as well as the sequencing of the test sections as a whole. With the experimental section being an extra Critical Reading section, students needed to deal with 4 sections of Reading, rather than the customary 3. Critical Reading features long passages (few of them entertaining) and sap the tester’s energy and focus.

From early indications, the March 2012 test seemed to have been sequenced as follows:
Essay
Writing
Reading
Reading
Math
Math
Reading
Reading
Math
Writing
The back-to-back Reading sections basically killed students’ energy, and in doing so, wound up affecting not only the Critical Reading score, but also the Math. There is also the possibility that students had 3 Reading sections in a row, which would only exacerbate the issue. Plus, there seemed to be some narrative passages – generally the most challenging – that gave students trouble on this test. We’ll know for sure in about 8 weeks (for those students who purchased it) when the Student Answer Service (SAS) is mailed out. The SAS shows the students answers (correct, incorrect, and omits) in each section of the test and in proper sequence. I imagine that these results will show a downward trend in the number of correct answers as the test sections progress.

How the Writing Factored in

The Writing sections indirectly played into this focus issue as well, as the 35-question Writing section usually occurs anywhere between section 3-7 of the exam and usually represents a nice break in the parade of Math & Reading sections, which allows students to regain their focus and attention. By making the 35-question Writing section the second section of the exam, the test-makers took away this quasi-“rest” from the testers, making the test-taking experience even more difficult.

That said, the placement of the 35-question Writing section after the Essay (always the first section) is also a likely reason why Writing scores were solid – students were able to complete 2/3rds of the Writing in the first hour of the test when they were fresh and more focused.

Mock Tests = Success

The results of the March 2012 SAT reinforces the importance of mock tests and the need to practice dealing with challenges under testing conditions. For the students who we’ve spoken with today (from literally all over the world,) its the same story: the students who took the most mock tests were the most conditioned to succeed and performed better than their peers who didn’t take as many mock tests.

Next Steps

Of course, these our initial impressions based on student reports and our knowledge of the exam. More concrete data, such as the SAT Online Score Report and Student Answer Service, will provide us with the info to further shape and confirm our initial impressions.

For anybody who wants further insight into their performance, we’ll happily provide it as a courtesy after reviewing their SAT Online Score Report, which posts to their College Board account on Tuesday, April 3rd.

Moving forward, we suggest that student’s take the test again right away in May, as so much of the scores in March seem more the result of circumstance rather than quality of preparedness, and sign up for all the mock tests available during the month of April!

Curve on the SAT Test

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Is there a curve on the SAT Test? How does the College Board arrive at my SAT Test score?

The SAT Test scoring can seem pretty mysterious and random at first. How does a raw score of correct, incorrect, and omitted SAT Test answers translate to a real scaled score of, say, 750? There’s a curve.

On any given Saturday on which the College Board offers the SAT Test, thousands of students across the world take the test. Each of them wends their way through the maze of questions and strategies in an attempt to do their best. Once the answer keys are collected, and the College Board begins to score the test, they take all the tests taken that day into account. On the SAT Test, the College Board does not evaluate you in relation to the material per se, but rather in relation to how well the other students performed on that material.

As a result, while you may miss a question or two in the Critical Reading, for example, you may still achieve a perfect SAT Test score of 800. On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes even if you get a very high raw SAT Test score, you may not get quite as high a scaled score as you expected. While raw scores usually convert to the same scaled scores – two SAT tests can have slight differences, and thus two SAT Test scores will too. For this reason, College Board provides a score range along with your scaled SAT test scores. The score range indicates where your scaled scores may rest in relation to the scaled scores, as well as how well you may do if you took the SAT test again.

At CATES, we recommend our students take the SAT test at least two and often three times, to ensure that their SAT test scores match their potential. Good strategy here help ensures that you achieve your goals on the SAT Test. Only by taking the test multiple times can you ensure that you’ve sat for the SAT Test on a day with the best possible curve.