Could there be a mistake on the SAT?

  • For the first time, I had a client this year that made me think, maybe there was a mistake made on one particular SAT scoring.  I thought I would share this experience since it was a first.  I had seen the fine print on the back of the SAT booklet that says that you can order a hand-scored version of the SAT reasoning test but until now, had never had occasion to utilize this service.

    John (the name has been changed to protect his privacy) had done really well on his PSAT exam in both 10th and 11th grade.  In fact, in 11th grade he had perfect scores of 80 in two of the three sections.  He went in to the SAT reasoning test in March with an understandable degree of confidence and in fact came out of the exam thinking that things had gone well.  When the scores came back (on-line) two weeks later, he was disappointed to find that in all three sections his scores had plummeted (by 100 to 140 points per section compared to his equivalent PSAT scores).  I remembered he had mentioned that he had gotten “off” by a place and had to erase and re-do one section. Could it be that the eraser marks threw off the machine scoring?  I thought, maybe this is a case where it would be worth paying the $52. the Collegeboard charges for the hand-score service. I tried not to get his hopes up but said it was worth having it done, for his piece of mind if nothing else.

    Three weeks later, John receives a short and sweet e-mail that indicates that his originally reported scores match his hand scored results.  I realize this may not be the climax of the story that we were all hoping for but there were still things to learn from this experience.  For one thing, it confirmed at least anecdotally that it is rare indeed  for a testing service to make an error in scoring.  Two, aside from the $52 charge, the process of requesting a hand-scored test is not all that painful.  And three, even smart and confident students can have an off day when it comes to standardized tests. Do I wish I had advised John not to exercise the hand-score option?  No.  I think we both benefitted from the lessons learned and there is value in piece of mind.

    May 19th, 2011 | nancy | Comments Off on Could there be a mistake on the SAT? |

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