Can an SAT Exam Be Too Easy?

August 14, 2018 
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0520-kaplan-sat-test_full_600What happened?

That’s what high school students and their parents were asking this summer after taking the June 2018 SAT. Shocked and angry are perhaps the two words that best describe these families.

NBC News put it succinctly: “High school students across the country are demanding that the College Board rescore the June SAT exam after they got lower scores than they expected, even if they got more questions right than the first time they took the test.”

Demanding is right. Petitions are circulating. The Internet is buzzing. Authors of educational articles are putting forth theories.

Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed reports, “When students took the SAT in June, many of them reported that the mathematics portion seemed unusually easy. They were correct.”

An easy test should mean high scores, right? Wrong.

According to Linda Conner Lambeck and Pat Tomlinson, the entire state of Connecticut’s average scores dropped—both language and math scores. Families in Richmond, VA interviewed by ABC News were using phrases like “doesn’t make sense” and “frustrated beyond measure.”

The College Board website has a page dedicated exclusively to the June test and its scoring. Some of the points addressed are:

  • The practice of “equating”. Statistical equating, according to the College Board, is “standard practice.” It means “that a score for a test taken on one date is equivalent to a score from another date.” While that is generally true, Inside Higher Ed presents several reasons why equating just didn’t seem to work for the June 2018 test, especially when applied to high scorers. It basically comes down to the fact that since the test was too “easy” it was therefore difficult to distinguish between those at the high end (above 650) of the scale.
  • The possibility of amended scores. The College Board stands firm on this. June results are considered accurate. Tests will not be rescored.
  • How my school will evaluate this test. The College Board maintains that “colleges understand the June SAT scores are accurate. They are familiar with the equating process and know that it is necessary to ensure accurate, fair and comparable scores across all test takers.”
  • Further questions. Parents and students are encouraged to contact the College Board at sat@info.collegeboard.org for more information.

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Moving forward, what can you, the student, do to minimize the chance of another a shock like the June 2018 SAT test results? Keep in mind a few relevant facts.

  • The June 2018 test was an outlier. The Princeton Review, as quoted in Inside Higher Ed, admits that “the [equating] process typically assures fairness.” Scheduling to take the test more than once or taking advantage of superscoring helps you to feel less like you are staking your academic reputation on one number.
  • College admissions departments ‘get’ standardized testing. If a certain test sitting is so notorious that major news outlets are covering it, admissions reps will be aware of it. It’s not the same as if everyone else in the country scored 1600s and you alone scored a 400.
  • You are much more than a number. Your school is interested in you as a potential participant in student life. Admissions reps are serious about reviewing all the information you submit. They want to know whether you will contribute to their community, and that decision is not made by fixating on one number.

At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our focus is always on you. Our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you would like more information, our Client Service Directors Anne Stanley and Susan Ware are available to answer questions and provide solutions. You may reach either of them by calling A+ Test Prep and Tutoring at 215-886-9188.

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