Do you feel smarter?
Date: Wed, 20 Mar 96 14:26:52 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: Do you feel smarter?
From: Keith Bostic <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[Some email I recently received -- all names have been removed.
It's out of the admissions/financial aid office of a fairly
well-known private University.]
The SAT verbal of 800 in 1500+ applicants has raised some eye-brows. The
numbers are not a typo. Let me give you the history of our applicants
over the last 6 years.
Verbal = 800
Class of '94 64
Class of '95 52
Class of '96 49
Class of '97 42
Class of '98 103
Class of '99 129
Class of '00 1588
Now re-centering has caused this jump. If you scored a 730 or higher on
the Verbal test you now have a 800. If you scored a 600 pre-April 1995,
you now have a 670.
Here is some of the chart from the Educational Testing Service:
Of course, you know this means we are all much smarter now! How do you
The math didn't change that much. The reason ETS gave for the change is
the distribution. In summary (some of you may have read articles about
this in the fall), the SAT test was based on about 10,000 white males
enrolled in prep school post WWII (today more women take the test than
men and minority applicants are the fastest growing test taking group as
well). The scale ended up being from 200 to 800 with 500 being about
average. With the changing landscape in our country, ETS felt that the
test needed to be re-aligned. The distribution was shifted below the
original mean distorting the distribution. The average had dropped to
about 400 on the verbal while the math had actually gone up. An 800 on
the verbal was a 10 in a million chance last year. Now it is something
like 125 out of million. As you can see, we had 18,1864 applicants with
1,588 scoring 800. We are going to admit a class of 1,975 so we could
have an entire class of 800 scoring students.
Now my summary is not perfect, but I just wanted to give a gist of the
changes. You can read a lot of things into the changes in light of several
issues. ETS made these changes on their own. Our office is not too keen
on these changes and did not encourage them.
I hope this helps put it in perspective. Do you feel smarter?
© 1996 Peter Langston