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Why Your SAT Score May Not Be Quite As Awesome As You Think

     Many students are rejoicing at their March, May or June scores from the revised SAT, which seem to compare favorably to the old SAT or the ACT. But, before you throw a party or declare yourself “done”, it is important to understand that the new test comes with a degree of score inflation that means that any score -- a 1300 for instance -- isn’t worth as much as it used to be. What?!?!?!?!

     College Board’s own concordance charts show that, for many students, new SAT scores are comparable to results anywhere from 60-80 points less on corresponding sections of the old SAT. This happened as a result of design decisions made by College Board when redesigning the test. So, an 1100 on the new SAT is really equivalent to a 1020 on the math and critical reading sections of the old SAT, leading to some students feeling that they did a lot better than they actually did. It is easy to see why students and parents are confused, since sections of both tests (old and new) are scored on a 200-800 point range, and many private schools, as well as the CSU system, only ever looked at the old SAT math and reading sections for a total score of 1600. But experts say it is important to understand that a) kids are not smarter, b) the test is not easier, and c) the college statistics that students are looking at to see if they qualify for admission are based on the old SAT. So, your 1500 is really a 1460, as far as your desired college is concerned.

     It matters because this misunderstanding may cause students to miscalculate where they stand when it comes to their strength as a potential applicant to any college, and to call it quits too early. It is important to use College Board’s concordance tables to see what your new SAT means in old SAT terms, and use that information to more accurately assess your chances -- are you in the 25th, 50th or 75th percentile of the scores for newly admitted students at the college of your dreams?

     Follow this link (https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/scores/understanding-scores/sat-score-converter) to the SAT Concordance tables, but ignore the section that compares new SAT scores to ACT scores.   ACT and the College Board are in a giant snit over the concordance table that SAT published, which was not done in collaboration with ACT, as was the old table. And ACT correctly points out that the new SAT data is based on an extremely limited number of students who have taken the actual test.  So, beware.

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