The curve on the SAT -- how does it work?

Discus: SAT/ACT Tests and Test Preparation: April 2004 Archive: The curve on the SAT -- how does it work?
 By Brum (Brum) on Thursday, April 08, 2004 - 09:00 pm: Edit

How does the "curve" on the SAT work exactly?

 By Hypatia67 (Hypatia67) on Thursday, April 08, 2004 - 10:21 pm: Edit

It is not a "curve." There are different tests and the questions are ranked by difficulty. So the same raw score on two different tests will result in two different SAT scores.

They rate the difficulty by "testing" the questions. Some of the questions on your test may not count for your actual SAT score. They are given to determine the difficulty ranking.

The College Board does not release exactly how they rank the tests like they do with the AP tests.

 By Feuler (Feuler) on Thursday, April 08, 2004 - 11:15 pm: Edit

I don't know the precise method, but the idea is that they want, say a 1200 one day to be the same as a 1200 another day. They do this by putting one "experimental" section on the test that has been used in previous tests and does not count towards your score.

It is a curve- a real curve, not bonus points like HS teachers give. The scores are ranked top to bottom, and they give a certain number of 800s, a certain number of 790s, etc. on each section. They determine that curve by gauging the ability of the students that day, compared with previous test-takers, using experimental sections. If there are lots of high scorers among those students with math experimental sections, they give lots of 800s in math, for example. Of course, it is not precise since lots of people tie for raw scores so they can't take the exact number of 800s the experimentals indicate they should take; they have to round.

 By Just_Forget_Me (Just_Forget_Me) on Friday, April 09, 2004 - 12:48 am: Edit

Feuler-I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding you, or if you have the curving system a little off.

I believe ETS uses the experimental sections to set the curve. Then, when an experimental section becomes a real section, the raw score -> x/800 table has already been created + set.

Alright, so let's say someone took the March SAT, got a 600 M and had a math experimental section. They'll set the curve for the experimental section (to be used when it's a "real" section) so that the person who got the 600M would get a 600M on the experimental math section. I'm not sure how well I'm explaining myself, it's late and I need sleep or caffeine.

 By Gmf05 (Gmf05) on Friday, April 09, 2004 - 01:53 am: Edit

Just Forget Me- I'm pretty sure you are correct on how they do the curve. They equate a section's difficulty with past sections before they let it count. Otherwise it wouldn't be fair to use passages from the new SAT (like the ones I got on my experimental.)

 By Feuler (Feuler) on Friday, April 09, 2004 - 05:41 am: Edit

OH I see now. I thought that the experimental sections were sections that had been used before, thus could be used for comparison, not sections that would be used as real sections in the future. That makes sense.