NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 13, 1995

Although the high school class of 1995 registered the largest gains in a decade on the Scholastic Assessment Test, there is reason to question their comparable validity to scores in other recent years.

First, this year's gains occurred almost entirely among students near the top of their classes.

  • The top 10% saw their verbal and math scores increase six and eight points.
  • The second 10% increased five and four points.
  • But students in the bottom half of their class saw little or no increase in their verbal scores, and they actually lost ground - as much as three points - in math.

What's more, this year's SAT was very different from its predecessors.

  • Students have 30 more minutes to answer fewer questions.
  • Calculators are permitted for the math section.
  • The antonym section of the verbal test - considered the toughest part of the test - has been replaced with an easier section that quizzes test-takers on words in context.

Next year, one won't even have to answer every question perfectly to achieve a perfect score. A student can get as many as four questions wrong (3%) and still receive 1600. Almost perfect has now been redefined as perfect.

Source: Bruno V. Manno (Hudson Institute), "The Real Score on the SATs," Wall Street Journal, September 13, 1995.


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