April 15, 2014

New, probably not improved SAT questions

Everybody complains about the SAT but nobody really explains why they are complaining (chief reason: their kids didn't get a perfect score), so "reforms" of the SAT traditionally flounder due to the general decadence of public thought in modern America. So, the latest changes in the SAT lack honest explication of what they intend to achieve.

As Herrnstein and Murray liked to point out, modern America is a rich place in part because we have standardized national tests in which small town boys like Murray and Jewish lads like Herrnstein could outshine the boarding school scions. America was particularly obsessed with finding talent for about a decade after Sputnik in 1957. But then along came civil rights and other obsessions, and the national clarity that was briefly achieved due to the fear of nuclear destruction has been eroded by wishful thinking and self-serving conniving.

We can hope that the College Board's Common Core wunderkind David Coleman knows what he's doing, but the whole topic of intelligence testing is so politically radioactive that we can't have an honest discussion in public of it.

From the NYT:
Revised SAT Won’t Include Obscure Vocabulary Words
By TAMAR LEWIN   APRIL 16, 2014

The College Board on Wednesday will release many details of its revised SAT, including sample questions and explanations of the research, goals and specifications behind them. 
“We are committed to a clear and open SAT, and today is the first step in that commitment,” said Cyndie Schmeiser, the College Board’s chief of assessment, in a conference call on Monday, previewing the changes to be introduced in the spring of 2016. 
She said the 211-page test specifications and supporting materials being shared publicly include “everything a student needs to know to walk into that test and not be surprised.”

Uh, why is it good that test-takers are not surprised? The surest way to make sure students aren't surprised is to release the test ahead of time. Would that be good? (In South Korea, moles within ETS apparently routinely release the upcoming tests to their test prep clients. Does that happen with the English language version in America?)

It's easy to yank Americans' chains with rhetoric that make lowbrow appeals to fairness. "It's just not fair that tests asks questions that students students don't already know the answers to!" Thinking through the implications of a particular methodology is hard, especially if you are disinterested, while emoting is easy.
One big change is in the vocabulary questions, which will no longer include obscure words.

I'm hoping that the College Board is worried that Tiger Mothers are forcing their children to memorize a couple of thousand SAT words. But it would seem like the way to fight gaming the system is to increase the number of SAT words, not decrease it. My vocabulary is generously estimated at 40,000 words, so it would hardly be absurd to have a pool of say, 10,000 words from which test questions are drawn.
Instead, the focus will be on what the College Board calls “high utility” words that appear in many contexts, in many disciplines — often with shifting meanings — and they will be tested in context. For example, a question based on a passage about an artist who “vacated” from a tradition of landscape painting, asks whether it would be better to substitute the word “evacuated,” “departed” or “retired,” or to leave the sentence unchanged.

Here's the sample question:
...As Kingman developed as a painter, his works were often compared to paintings by Chinese landscape artists dating back to CE 960, a time when a strong tradition of landscape painting emerged in Chinese art. Kingman, however, vacated from that tradition in a number of ways, most notably in that he chose to focus not on natural landscapes, such as mountains and rivers, but on cities.... 
A) no change
B) evacuated
C) departed
D) retired

So, that's less of a vocabulary question than it's a reading comprehension question or a writing style question. They've found a passage with a poorly chosen word and ask you to copy edit it by replacing it with a more obvious one. Which is fine. But ... big whoop. Both vocabulary and reading comprehension are both highly g-loaded. And that's good. 

But, if you've got two kinds of highly g-loaded questions, why throw one kind away and put all your eggs in the reading comprehension basket?
  
Another aspect of former McKinsey consultant David Coleman's changes are the McKinseyification of the SAT reading samples. I don't know if they can afford Malcolm Gladwell extracts, but one of the sample questions of vocabulary-into-reading-comprehension is from Dr. Vibrant, Richard Florida:
Everybody talks about the importance of "critical thinking skills," but Richard Florida's entire career is testament to how well you can do for yourself in 21st Century America without any.

Honestly, being able to grok Richard Florida's articles on the Rise of the Creative Class probably does correlate highly with making money in modern America.

From the LA Times:
"This test will be more open and clear than any in our history," Cynthia B. Schmeiser, chief of assessment for the College Board, said during a media briefing. "It is more of an achievement test, anchored in what is important and needed for kids to be ready and succeed in college. The process used to define what is being measured is radically different than what we've used in the past and what is used in other tests." 
The SAT is taken by about 1.7 million students annually but has been losing ground to the rival ACT, which is gaining nationwide acceptance after being more prevalent historically in the Midwest and the South. Many education experts view the ACT as more of an achievement exam, one in which students are less likely to be helped by coaching.

Does anybody know whether the SAT is more coachable than the ACT? My guess would be that, being traditionally the coastal test, while the ACT is the inland test, the big difference is that the SAT has more Asians taking it, which means it has more fanatical test prepping.

From the Washington Post:
For the College Board, the new SAT could help end the lingering public perception that the test is about IQ or aptitude. Previous revisions ditched analogies and antonyms — portions of the old verbal test seen as tricky and unrelated to what schools teach. Making the SAT more of an achievement test, one analyst said, could be a boon for students who stress about test preparation.

Nobody is even trying to make sense anymore.

We actually know how to make testing substantively more accurate: stop having paper and pencil tests and put them instead on a computer and have the computer change how hard the questions are based on how the test-taker is doing. A lot of major tests have shifted to that, such as the military's ASVAB back at the end of the 20th Century. But the College Board doesn't want to spend the money to do that yet.
     

55 comments:

5371 said...

We actually know how to make testing substantively more accurate: stop having paper and pencil tests and put them instead on a computer and have the computer change how hard the questions are based on how the test-taker is doing.

That would no longer be a standardised test, though.

David Coolman said...

In the following sentence:

I'm just a 14 year old white girl

by which word do you replace "white" to save you a lot of trouble?

A) Black
B) Jewish
C) Latino
D) LGBT

Note to test corrector; all 4 answers are equally valid.

Black Sea said...

"Richard Florida's entire career is testament to how well you can do for yourself in 21st Century America without any [critical thinking skills]."

Which of the following statements best explains the phenomenon described above:

a) Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to the error that counts. -- Nikki Giovani
b)The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend. -- Henri Bergson
c) Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. -- H. L. Menken
d) I have always wanted to live in Washington. -- Richard Florida

doombuggy said...

The process used to define what is being measured is radically different than what we've used in the past and what is used in other tests.

Yeah, right. Her soap is so much more "new and improved" than the other. Mad Men indeed.

Anonymous said...

"departed" and "concentrated". Am I Harvard material or what?

"Making the SAT more of an achievement test, one analyst said, could be a boon for students who stress about test preparation."

Right. I can see how it being an achievement test would be great for students who worry about how well they are going to do. Wait... what? What do you mean by "achievement test"? How well do the kids do who worry about test prep anyway?

"Nobody is even trying to make sense anymore."

Thanks Steve. You handle these half baked goons with eloquence.

TheLRC said...

Like anon at 12:36, you've nailed it with "Nobody is even trying to make sense anymore".

I took both the ACT and SAT, and did a combined 0 minutes of study for both. My understanding has always been that the ACT was the more 'achievement'-oriented of the two college entrance exams, since it tests some content knowledge. The SAT is -- or was -- supposed to be the 'pure' mental capacity test you couldn't prep for.

In practice, this simplistic dichotomy has turned out to be much less simple. I think it's absolutely true that more coastal types and foreign students take the SAT, and that they are also more likely to try to prepare for it. And Education Realist has convinced me that the SAT can indeed be prepared for, at least to a degree. The ACT, at least when I took 30 years ago, didn't seem worth bothering to prepare for because we midwestern smart kids knew we'd get into the schools in the area that used it anyway. But in retrospect it seems it'd have been quite easy to study for, had that notion ever occurred to me . . . .

Anyway, saying that a more 'achievement' oriented test will discourage prepping is to miss all this nuance (!), and is indeed nonsense and hence almost certain to be wrong.

TheLRC said...

In fact, Steve, you really should go read Education Realist's latest post comparing the SAT and ACT if you haven't already.

Anonymous said...

I hope they have harder questions than the sample ones listed above. If Tyrone can't answer questions like the ones above there simply is no hope for him.

dearieme said...

"their kids didn't get a perfect score": it's pretty much axiomatic that any exam where people get perfect scores is too easy.

DJF said...

The problem is not the test, the problem is with who gets what scores from the test since they fail to show that the US and indeed the whole world lives in Lake Wobegon where all kids are above average.

They will keep on "fixing" this and every test until they get the right results.

keypusher said...

...As Kingman developed as a painter, his works were often compared to paintings by Chinese landscape artists dating back to CE 960, a time when a strong tradition of landscape painting emerged in Chinese art. Kingman, however, vacated from that tradition in a number of ways, most notably in that he chose to focus not on natural landscapes, such as mountains and rivers, but on cities....
A) no change
B) evacuated
C) departed
D) retired


That seems like a terribly unfair question. I know the answer because I've read lots of passages like that, and "departed" is the word that writers use. But there's no reason "retired" "evacuated" or "vacated" couldn't be used instead, if you weren't familiar with art or literary criticism. Remember the infamous "regatta" question from the 1970s? This seems at least as culturally loaded as that...

Anonymous said...

I believe all of those types of test are 'studyable.' I grew up in the Midwest and took the ACT, like many, with zero prep (I like many midwesterners, simply planned on going to the state school-my father's alma mater. Standardized testing was irrelevant to this goal). I did well.

A decade or so later, I had the notion of going to law school, and explicitly and dutifully practiced for the LSAT. I didn't study: I practiced (a full practice LSAT twice a week for six weeks, I went through several books with practice sections of the logic sections, etc).

I did exceptionally well-essentially improving my score by 1 SD compared to my performance on the ACT (and GRE in the interim).

The problem is, though, that the skills on those tests, while improvable, are pretty g-loaded nonetheless. In other words, the practice I did probably got me close to my theoretical potential (i.e. my score on the LSAT was probably in line with my IQ, while my scores on the ACT/GRE were below it). Practice wouldn't give me scores any higher than my genetic potential.

So arguments for and against SAT's and test prep are both right: SAT prep will improve your score-but only to a point. Because with widespread test prep, the SAT will more accurately reflect IQ. In the old days, SAT scores probably reflected IQ scores, without prep (in other words, SAT scores in 1970 probably reflected tester's IQ-1SD). For a brief period, perhaps, when test prep began, SAT scores reflect IQ for preppers, and IQ-1SD for non preppers.

But when SAT prep becomes widespread, it will reflect IQ (not IQ-1SD) for everybody-which is in line with the disparities that existed in 1970.

anonymousse

Zoyd Wheeler said...

Subtleties of prestige/white English usage seem to me to be a conspicuous problem even for relatively educated blacks.

On the other hand, I would imagine the new vocab questions are harder for Asian immigrants who speak English as a second language. But are there enough of them to matter?

Anonymous said...

As a 99% below verbal type, those questions are ridiculously easy - dealt with as if by intuition. (The amazing thing is that my junior high daughter has a similar gift despite barely having perused the covers of the classics).

But as a math moron, I imagine a similar thing happens for my other-side-brained cousins when they see the quant brain teasers: The answers appear self evident.

You could make it harder, but how could you make it easier? Higher grades for everyone.

Gilbert P

Cail Corishev said...

"Kingman, however, vacated from that tradition in a number of ways"

So instead of using an obscure word, they used a more common word but chose an obscure usage that you're not likely to see anywhere else but a dictionary.

Maybe they're hoping the "memorize this list" types are just learning the first meaning of every word without any of the nuances, so they'll buzz through marking those without looking at the context. So it's still g-loaded and will help the thoughtful test-taker, but could trip up the test preppers.

Or maybe they're just floundering around trying to look busy.

Zoyd Wheeler said...

In fairness, the cases I've known are indistinguishable from white autodidacts of equal intelligence, and the exceptions I've known were indistinguishable from educated whites of equal intelligence.

The former just happen to be more common. And growing up in an all black family sure doesn't help with early exposure to educated writing.

Steve from Detroit said...

"Everybody talks about the importance of "critical thinking skills," but Richard Florida's entire career is testament to how well you can do for yourself in 21st Century America without any."

Another donation on the way. Although this line still can't quite top the all-time greatest: "Tavon, Tavon likes his money..."

I went to college with Dr. Florida's sister in law. He/she/they were behind former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm's "Cool Cities" initiative. What idiocy.

ivvenalis said...

In the past, the obscure words were the ones with non-Latin roots like e.g. "picayune". Is this what they're getting rid of? I assumed when I was taking it that this was done to handicap boarding-school Latin students.

They already copped out on the analogies. They required a rather subtle command of English in addition to a spelling-bee style vocabulary, and it seemed quite resistant to cramming as a substitute for extensive exposure to literature.

Education Realist said...

Thanks for the mention, TheLRC.

Yes, in my last post, I directly suggest that the SAT is more coachable, something I've been mulling since I noticed that three times as many Asians (probably US, but can't be sure) take the SAT as the ACT.

I will probably be writing a post on the changes at some point, but as always I'm behind.

So for now:

1) The ACT should sue. The English and Data Analysis questions are close to plagiarism of style.

2) No major changes in reading.

3) Math is ridiculously hard.

"We actually know how to make testing substantively more accurate: stop having paper and pencil tests and put them instead on a computer and have the computer change how hard the questions are based on how the test-taker is doing. A lot of major tests have shifted to that, such as the military's ASVAB back at the end of the 20th Century. But the College Board doesn't want to spend the money to do that yet."

Actually, the GRE shifted to that, and had to stop because the Chinese and other Asians openly cheated. They do the braindump thing. GRE computer was banned in China, but that meant the wealthier ones flew to Vietnam and cheated there.

As you know, I'm a fan of tests, but if you follow the Microsoft tests at all you notice that they have a HUGE problem with Asian cheating, particularly CHina and Pakistan. And the SAT already has problems now.

ASVAB can do it because they don't have Asian testers in big numbers.

panjoomby said...

@5371:
computer version is standardized - equated items with appropriate difficulty levels are given - instead of giving dozens of needless items that are too easy & dozens that are too hard. if items near the test taker's ability level are given, fewer items are needed - you just need some right & some wrong to accurately locate their score relative to the distribution.

Anonymous said...

"disinterested" - no surprise there :-j

panjoomby said...

ed realist has an excellent recent SAT discussion -
http://educationrealist.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/sats-competitive-advantage/

Col. Reb Sez said...

The ACT is a bit more of an achievement test than the SAT. So now they are planning to make the SAT more of an achievement test in order to reduce the achievement gap.

Let's look at how this is working for the ACT. In 2012 179 blacks made a 33 or higher out of 222,237 taking the ACT test, or one out of 1,241, or .08 percent. 23,702 whites out of 1,141,244 made that score, or one out of 48, or 2.07 percent. 4,746 Asians made a 33 or higher out of 68,080, or one out of 14, or 6.97 percent.

The solution, we will be told, is to be more inclusive. OK, let's lower our standards and set 30 as our target goal. In 2012 the percentage of test-takers making a 30 or above were:
black: 1,266; .57 percent
white: 96,799; 8.48 percent
Asian: 12,401; 18.2 percent

I don't understand math and never had statistics, but my guesstimate is that if you were to replace the ACT with a pure IQ test that awarded a "30" for an IQ of 122, roughly 8 percent of white students would have a 30 vs. one percent for blacks and 10 percent for Asians. While disparate, this is far better than the results of the achievement-oriented ACT.

The best way to reduce the race-gap is as Steve said to INCREASE the number of vocabulary words and types of questions. In fact, if the kids didn't know exactly what kids of questions they would face until they showed up on test day the "preppers" would have a much harder time of it. After the introduction of the "new" SAT in 2005 the test-score gap closed dramatically for about two years, after which it skyrocketed. Strivers learned what was on the test and mastered the material and the art of taking the test.

David said...

In rural Tennessee in the 1970s - 1980s no one prepped for any of these things. Your parents drove you to Nashville or Knoxville, you took some sort of fun test (no fun waiting for everyone else to finish, though), and you gobbled some fast food afterwards. When I heard about SAT prep later in life, I thought it ridiculous and boring; it seemed just another money-making racket, and an unlikely one at that.

It's nice that kids' first impression of Dr. Vibrant will be that he is some doofus who can't use the right word. (Even if that impression is mistaken.)

Geoff Matthews said...

Adaptive testing has been a part of the GRE for a long time. Does anyone know if the MCAT, LSAT, etc have moved there?

Mr. Anon said...

"Here's the sample question:

...Kingman, however, vacated from that tradition in a number of ways, most notably in that he chose to focus not on natural landscapes, such as mountains and rivers, but on cities...."

An impressionable person, seeing this on a test, might get the think that this passage is an example of good writing - afterall, it's on the SAT, it must be well-written English. Whereas, of course, it is horribly written. Nobody would use "vacate" in this context, and "vacate from" just sounds awful.

Anonymous said...

Each year Harvard and Princeton could make up their entire freshman class out of high school super geniuses. Yet they don't. I was shocked to find out that the average IQ of the Harvard student body is only 130 . That means half of Harvard alumni can't get into Mensa. So apparently the ideal for elite college admission is being smart enough + some X factor. Here's a thought. If you want to signal to Harvard how smart you are take an unequivocal IQ test, like Raven's matrices or the Wonderlich. If you get anything over 130 you won't embarras yourself. Instead of wasting your time on SAT prep courses work on your rare mollusk collection or making illuminated manuscripts of Norman Mailer novels or learning to play the Goldberg Variations on the accordion.

beowulf said...

Make everyone take the ASVAB, let Uncle Sam (Pentagon) worry about pissing off Uncle Sam (DOJ Civil Rights Division)

Zippy said...

Wait . . . won't an "achievement" test make people prep MORE? I mean, you can study for achievements, right?

Anonymous said...

"But then along came civil rights and other obsessions, and the national clarity that was briefly achieved due to the fear of nuclear destruction has been eroded by wishful thinking and self-serving conniving."

I wonder what the cost to our country has been as a result of all of the civil rights/affirmative action mess, in terms of lost productivity, peace of mind, civil society, dollars, real achievements, etc.?

Anonymous said...

I suspect that the changes to the SAT were made to make the test more g loaded and less correlated to high school grades.

I think the SATs want to bump up boys' scores on the SATs and thus improve boys' chances to get into colleges. Colleges are looking for ways to increase the percentages of male students and affirmative action for males is just ridiculous.

Removing the writing test decreases the SATs emphasis on verbal abilities increasing the importance of the math section that boys do better on. Plus, even for the critical reading section, slightly more boys than girls get scores in the 700-800 range. This was not true for the written section in which girls do much better than boys. check table 5 here:


http://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/pdf/research/2013/TotalGroup-2013.pdf

peterike said...

Any test can be prepared for to some extent if the test follows some standard patterns. Understand that many students are terrific idiots when it comes to taking tests. If you're a "natural" test taker, then you won't spend 10 minutes of a 30 minute math section on the first question. Others, however, will do just that, blissfully unaware that the clock is, in fact, ticking.

Clock management is a simple piece of "test prep" that many a student needs -- they probably learn nothing in school about this, you see. Sensible guessing strategies are another, though I think the new SAT is taking away the wrong answer penalty?

Another is using process of elimination. Obvious? To you maybe, not to a lot of other people. Or working a question backward from the answers.

Or dirt simple: in the sample question given, re-read the sentence to yourself replacing the highlighted word with each of the potential answers. What, you think that's obvious? Nuh uh, it's not. Some will just stare at the highlighted word and then stare at the choices, never actually replacing the word with the options and reading the sentence.

A great deal of test prep is tactical; it's not learning a thousand new words. In fact, those kids -- the ones with zero understanding of smart testing tactics -- are the easiest to bump up a few hundred points because they aren't yet living up to their innate potential because they don't grok the process.

Anonymous said...

They should get rid of all Latin and Greek derived vocabulary and replace them with long compounds of simple Germanic English words, like in German.

Grey Enlightenment said...

I wonder how this will effect ivy league admittance process because if the test is easier to 'game' it will be less effective at identifying superior talent. The hard words are there for a reason -most test takers aren't supposed to know what they mean.

john dewey said...

I'll never forget a front page WSJ story from around 2005. It was about a Vietnamese kid from Garden Grove who had been rejected by UCLA. His grades were 4.35 and his SAT was 1590.

dearieme said...

"the Goldberg Variations on the accordion": at a U-bahn station in Berlin we heard a busker playing Bach organ music on a squeeze-box - and it worked remarkably well. About harpsichord music I wouldn't be too confident.

Steve Sailer said...

"I think the SATs want to bump up boys' scores on the SATs and thus improve boys' chances to get into colleges."

That could be what's going on. If that was Coleman's intention, it couldn't be talked about, so it would be covered up with bafflegab.

I really don't know.

Anonymous said...

Each year Harvard and Princeton could make up their entire freshman class out of high school super geniuses. Yet they don't. I was shocked to find out that the average IQ of the Harvard student body is only 130 . That means half of Harvard alumni can't get into Mensa. So apparently the ideal for elite college admission is being smart enough + some X factor.

They generally prefer political or social entrepreneur types over high intelligence.

Anonymous said...

Yes, in my last post, I directly suggest that the SAT is more coachable, something I've been mulling since I noticed that three times as many Asians (probably US, but can't be sure) take the SAT as the ACT.

There's no point taking the ACT unless you want to go to a state school in the Midwest. Most Asians live in the Northeast or the West Coast and tend to go schools there.

Education Realist said...

"There's no point taking the ACT unless you want to go to a state school in the Midwest. Most Asians live in the Northeast or the West Coast and tend to go schools there."

You have no idea what you're talking about. The ACT is accepted in more schools than the SAT, and all the selective schools accept it.

Anonymous said...

You have no idea what you're talking about. The ACT is accepted in more schools than the SAT, and all the selective schools accept it.

Actually you don't know what you're talking about. Historically, students in the Midwest took the ACT while students on the coasts or applying to schools there took the SAT. This is still mainly the case today even though more schools accept both today.

Anonymous said...

The ACT is probably easier to game. Overall it's easier. The reading section is easier and more straightforward. The math section has harder math since it has trig, but that's just a matter of knowing a few more formulas. Furthermore, the SAT II math subject tests have even harder math, and the Asians take those, so why would they avoid the easier math of the ACT?

Anonymous said...

http://schooltutoring.com/blog/sat-vs-act-popularity-by-state/

"While it is common for students to take both the SAT and ACT, historically the SAT has been the test of choice on both the East and West Coasts while the ACT has been favored in the Midwest."

"Research show in an August, 2013 article in The New York Times showed that the geographic pattern still holds."

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/08/04/education/edlife/where-the-sat-and-act-dominate.html

Education Realist said...

Focus hard. Here's what you said: "There's no point taking the ACT unless you want to go to a state school in the Midwest."

No, there's a huge point to taking the ACT if you are a top student. Top students take both because they often have a preference that results in a higher percentile ranking for one vs. the other.

If Asians saw an advantage in taking the ACT, they'd take the ACT. White students certainly do, ever since the 2005 changes. It's one of the reasons the ACT caught up and passed the SAT, although not the only one.

None of that has anything to do with the geographic preference, which you don't have to tell anyone about unless you think it's news. The fact that you do means you should go back to the kiddie pool.

http://educationrealist.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/whats-the-difference-between-the-sat-and-the-act/

Anonymous said...

If Asians saw an advantage in taking the ACT, they'd take the ACT. White students certainly do, ever since the 2005 changes. It's one of the reasons the ACT caught up and passed the SAT, although not the only one.

None of that has anything to do with the geographic preference, which you don't have to tell anyone about unless you think it's news. The fact that you do means you should go back to the kiddie pool.


It does have to do with geography according to the data.

Until not too long ago, you had to take the SAT to apply to schools on the coasts and the ACT for Midwestern schools, and this pattern has generally persisted despite more schools accepting both.

Here's more data:

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/28/why-the-midwest-rules-on-the-sat/

"Across the country, 46 percent of high school graduates took the SAT in 2009, but that percentage varied enormously by state. Generally speaking, students in the Northeast were more likely to take the test (with highest participation rates in Maine at 90 percent, and New York at 85 percent). Students in the Midwest/Plains area were least likely to take the test (with lowest test-taking rates in Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota of 3 percent)."

Anonymous said...

Here's some recent data from the Washington Post. The Post notes that the choice of test is broadly determined by geography. SAT usage has declined since the change in 2006, but the major declines have been in states in which the ACT was already more popular.

"Is yours an ACT or SAT state?"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/03/16/is-yours-an-act-or-sat-state/

"Do you live in an ACT state or an SAT state?

Higher education reporter Nick Anderson conducted an analysis of the prevalence of the two college admissions tests and found that the answer to that question depends broadly on geography. The SAT is generally more prevalent in the West, Northeast and Washington area. The ACT is more prevalent in center-of-the-nation and Southern states."

"Between 2006 and 2013, the SAT’s market share dropped from 55 percent to 48 percent as it lost share of test takers in 47 states plus Washington, D.C. Traditionally, states were heavily concentrated in either SAT or ACT, with SAT along the coasts and ACT in the middle of the country."

"SAT usage declined in 29 states over 7 years"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/f4504cfc-a5ff-11e3-8466-d34c451760b9_story.html

"Over seven years, the declines in SAT test-takers exceeded 20 percent in 19 states, including drops of 59 percent in Michigan, 46 percent in Illinois, 37 percent in Ohio and 25 percent in Tennessee. Those are all states where the ACT test is more widely used."

Anonymous said...

The problem with the SAT is that it is too easy. Everyone who gets above 1300 for V + M should be forced to take another much more difficult test.. Currently the SAT compresses IQ scores above 130, and this makes it easier for strivers and over achievers. The proposed changes to the SAT are likely to make this situation worse.

Eric Rasmusen said...

An SAT prep course teacher once told me that almost everything he taught was actually pretty useless for getting a better score--- with the importance exception of vocabulary. That *can* be coached. So the SAT is actually moving more towards being an IQ test, it seems.

Anonymous said...

What was he playing? Bach's trio concertos require two hands and two feet to play.

Anonymous said...

"I think the SATs want to bump up boys' scores on the SATs and thus improve boys' chances to get into colleges."

When the SAT changed to the 2/3 verbal, 1/3 math, one of the reasons was to bump up girls scores.

Right about the time that Reviving Ophilia became popular, girls started routing boys in all academic areas.

Now the essay section is becoming optional. The SAT used to have an optional writing sample.

Another big change is the tendency to allow students to use their best scores on multiple test dates.

Another Factoid:

2007 The ACT becomes a valid admissions test at every four-year college or university in the U.S. when Harvey Mudd College accepts ACT scores for fall admissions.

Anonymous said...

"Each year Harvard and Princeton could make up their entire freshman class out of high school super geniuses. Yet they don't. I was shocked to find out that the average IQ of the Harvard student body is only 130 . That means half of Harvard alumni can't get into Mensa. So apparently the ideal for elite college admission is being smart enough + some X factor. "

These schools operate admissions on the old boarding school model. They don't necessarily want the best students, they want the best combination of graduates. They want some geniuses, but not all. They want enough blacks and Latinos to call themselves diverse. They need to field 40 or so varsity teams that compete in Division 1. Princeton lacrosse won titles when Coach Tierney was allowed to lower academic standards to those for hockey and football. And Coach Amaker is perverting Harvard's standards for his bball team.

Anonymous said...

The ACT is becoming more popular because it is/was easier. It has been for decades. I grew up and went to school with kids of people who wrote/write the ACT. Even though our city was home to the ACT, the smart kids in our school took the SAT, the dummies the ACT. The ACT is the product of the stupid being cranked out of the University of Iowa, a crappy state liberal arts and 'education' degree mill where everyone gets in and everyone gets a gold star. For decades the UofI has been a hub for the left of left, multiculturalism and gender studies obsessed. Anyone who cares about science, engineering, etc goes to the other state school, or better yet leaves the state. Big shock, the U of I and ACT are located in a county which votes 90% blue on every issue in every election. The other 10% vote for the Green party. In Jco even Republicans run as Dems. Enough said.

James Kabala said...

"Top students take both because they often have a preference that results in a higher percentile ranking for one vs. the other."

Where does Education Realist live? In New England in the 1990s the very existence of the ACT was a vague rumor. I never knew anyone who took it; I don't even know where one could have gone to take it. Maybe things have changed since.

College Guru said...

SAT has changed a lot, changing the college admission scenario. I only hope it's for the best!

Anonymous said...

Evacuated seems to be in reference to leaving a physical location, retired insinuates that there is completely done, but departed indicates a gentle transitioning. This is a reading comprehension problem. Many people are arguing about racial or cultural bias but they are a symptom of the selfish and self centered sickness of this country. SAT prep books are sold or l available at the library for free. These excuses about minority oppression and sick attempts to make life easier for children has to stop for the good of us all.