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Author Topic: Getting a 0 on the SAT
snopes
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Comment: An urban legend that I have always heard is that some high school
student made a 0 on the SAT(or in some versions, the ACT) and Harvard gave
him a full scholarship for performing this "feat." People that pass this
legend often say that it would be the same thing as making a 1600 on the
SAT or a 36 on the ACT because they would have to know all of the correct
answers in order to make certain that they didn't get any correct. I tend
to disagree with that statement for two reasons. First, after taking the
test a couple times, it is obvious that you can almost always eliminate
two of the answers, and always eliminate one because they are obviously
incorrect. Second, I doubt that it is even possible to make a "0" because
on many similar tests, there is a base score that you get for just turning
it in before it has been scored.

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Etienne
We Three Blings


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The only reason no one ever scored as 0 on the SAT is that I've never taken them.

Seriously... A base score for turning in the test? That's pointless! If you give 10 out of 200 for turning it in, why not just score on 190?

On the other hand, scoring a 0 on a test of that size - especially if there's an essay portion, which are alway somewhat subjective - is nearly improbable.

Unless you actually try. But I don't think you'd get a scholarship for that...

'tienne

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snopes
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quote:
A base score for turning in the test? That's pointless! If you give 10 out of 200 for turning it in, why not just score on 190?
Because many multiple-choice tests deduct points for wrong answers in order to prevent people from guessing when they don't know the correct answers. If, say, the test has 100 questions, and you receive +10 points for each correct answer, 0 points for no answer, and -2 points for each wrong answer, the default score (i.e., what you would get if you answered no questions at all) would be set at 200 in order to avoid the possibility of negative scores. In order to score a zero, you would have to answer every single question incorrectly.

- snopes

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Pogue Ma-humbug
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Each portion of the SAT (math and English) has a scoring range of 200-800. Thus, the lowest possible score is 400; the highest is 1600.

My daughter just took the SAT. The English portion had 78 questions; the math 60.

A correct answer was worth one point. An incorrect answer to a question with five choices lost 1/4 of a point; with four choices 1/3 of a point. No answer was zero points.

That raw score is then "converted to a scaled score by a statistical process calling equating," her package said. "Equating ensures that your scores are not affected by the version of the test you took or by the abilities of the group that took the test; thus, your score is independent of how well others did on the same version of the test that you took. Scores are reported in a 200-to-800 scale."

Pogue

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LittleDuck
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I never took the SAT but I did take the PSAT and I remember the instructions given us pretty well because they were odd. We were told to make sure we got our names right because they'd mark off for that (I am not sure if the instructor was yanking chains or not). We were also told that we should not guess on any that we were not really sure of because points were deducted for incorrect answers but you got no points at all for a blank space. I remember that very well because I thought it was a great idea and all tests should have that rule [Big Grin]
I did not do too well on the test IIRC. I was too hungover. I was a rotten kid back then. Which is why I never bothered with the SATs.

LittleDuck

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Momanon
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I've heard the same thing about making sure you spell your name correctly. I think it is just a simple way of explaining the base score. You turn it in, and you get X points. By having proctors say this, it probably helps make sure people spell their name right and explains the base score at the same time.

-Momanon

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Keeper of the Mad Bunnies
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According to what I can make of the scoring system, a '0' is impossible for a reported score.

"... equated formula scores on the SAT I are
converted to scaled scores ranging from 200
to 800 in increments of 10 points. Converting
raw scores into scaled scores is a mathematical
process that results in an equation or table
of values that relates each formula score on
the new form to a corresponding score on the
reporting scale."

This is from a research paper about ensuring comparable scores across different versions of the test. No matter what the formula scores are, they are converted to a 200-800 scale. This implies that 200 is the minimum score that can be received.

BTW - Another report stated that minimum scores should not be considered valid

According to the ACT website:

"The scale scores range from 1 (low) to 36 (high) for each of the four tests and for the Composite."

So, no zero possible here either.

James Powell

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Casey, making hot chocolate
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Can't be done, as everyone has already said. It also is impossible on the MCAT, which runs from 3-45 (3 subtests at 1-15, then a written section at J-T). Of course, that didn't stop a dimbulb friend of mine from claiming he did it! [Roll Eyes]

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HazyCosmicJive
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Marginally related: in my line of work, I see a lot of test scores. Recently, I saw an ACT composite of 7 (high score was 11 on the math).

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DarkDan
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Maybe he confused the scoring machine somehow? I doubt it.

Anyway, when I took the PSATs, I'm sure I spelled my name right. I put my email address on it and checked "Yes, please send me college information via email", which was a bad choice, because I got 20 emails a day for two weeks from colleges. Anyway, the emails that had my last name in it had it spelled with an "R" as the second to last letter. It's supposed to be a "C". When I got my results, it was spelled correctly. Maybe someone fixed it along the way. [Confused]

DarkDan

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toaud4you
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When I took the SATs I was with one of my friends and towards the end of the second part I glanced over at her and noticed that she was erasing frantically, turns out she was checking her answers for the second part but she was looking at her answer form for the first part. Needless to say her score was low--but not quite 0 lol.
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Maya and Simone
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In Love Hina #6, one of the characters that is trying to get into Tokyo University for the first time (Not Keitaro or Naru) somehow manages to score a Z on her practice exams.

The comments in the spaces were "At least write your first name and last name on the line."

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dramaqueen872005
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Busted Urban Legend.

You get like 400 points just for putting your name on the paper, as everyone says it around it. If you omit a question, you lose 1 point (don't get credit for it). If you answer a question wrong, you lose 1/4 of a point. So 4 wrong answers = 1 omitted answer. I took the PSAT in October. We also got some hints to try from a little workshop I went to. Let me tell you, you have like 30 minutes or less for each section. Those hints fly out the window when you're trying to get all the questions done.

I will be taking the SAT on January 24... wish me luck, I need it! I didn't do badly on the PSAT... I kinda sorta got a score range from the range it said I could expect on the SAT for each section. It came out around 1000-1100. Not bad... but I still need to raise it.

DramaQueen

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"Yeah," Brent muttered. "The original Rebel Without a Brain."
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Mr. Furious
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quote:
Originally posted by BananaQueen:
If you omit a question, you lose 1 point (don't get credit for it). If you answer a question wrong, you lose 1/4 of a point. So 4 wrong answers = 1 omitted answer.

No, that's not quite correct. If you don't answer a question, while you have no chance at the full point, you do not have any points deducted from your score. Basically, you get zero points. If you answer a question incorrectly, you still have no chance at the full point, and you have a further 1/4 point deducted from your score.

In other words:

- Not answering = 0 points
- Answering incorrectly = -.25 points

On the SATs, answering a question incorrectly is worse than not answering it at all. It wouldn't make sense if it was the other way around.

Here's collegeboard.com's take on the minimum score:

quote:
Is it true that you get a 200 on the SAT just for signing your name?
Theoretically speaking, if you just sign your name and don't complete the answer sheet, you would get a score of 200. That's because we don't report scores that are lower than 200. In reality, if we received an answer sheet that wasn't filled out, it would be considered an automatic request to cancel scores and no scores would be reported.



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Pogue Ma-humbug
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quote:
Originally posted by BananaQueen:
Busted Urban Legend.

You get like 400 points just for putting your name on the paper, as everyone says it around it. If you omit a question, you lose 1 point (don't get credit for it). If you answer a question wrong, you lose 1/4 of a point. So 4 wrong answers = 1 omitted answer.

NOT TRUE!

Do people not read previous posts before adding their own thoughts? Or was my post directly quoting the SAT on its scoring procedure simply ignored?

Pogue

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Let's drink to the causes in your life:
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STF
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Did someone just post something?


[Big Grin]

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Mr. Furious
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Hey, off-topic, has anybody heard from Pogue lately? I'm starting to worry about him.

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Karama
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Some of my exams in University had the same system, and I'm pretty sure the multiple choice professional exams I took did as well. The idea is to get the student's average expected score to be 0 if he/she guess an answer, so if there is one chance out of five to get the correct answer (which is the case for a five choices question), you need to deduce 0.25 points for an incorrect answer. (Your "expected" score is then 0.2x1 + 0.8x(-0.25) = 0.)

What some people don't realize is that if you want to maximise your expected score on a test graded that way, it's only "best" (ETA: merely neutral, actually) not to guess on questions for which you don't know the answer if you can't eliminate any possible answers. If you know for a fact that some of the choices are wrong, your chances of guessing the right answer are higher (more than one out of five to stay with the same example), and your expected score for the question will be higher if you guess than if you give no answer. Say you can eliminate just one possible answer. Your chances of guessing right are 1 in 4 instead of 1 in 5, so your expected score is 0.25 x 1 + 0.75 x (-0.25) = 0.0625, rather than 0. Not much, but it can add up over several questions when you can eliminate some of the choices.

Of course, you had better check that the penalty for a wrong answer is not higher than 1/4 for a five choices question, or 1/3 for a four choices question. And since you're still taking chances, you may still end up with a lower score than if you had not guessed any answer. It's more likely you'll have a slightly higher score, but it's not a sure thing.

Karama

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Hazed
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
Comment: An urban legend that I have always heard is that some high school
student made a 0 on the SAT(or in some versions, the ACT) and Harvard gave
him a full scholarship for performing this "feat." People that pass this
legend often say that it would be the same thing as making a 1600 on the
SAT or a 36 on the ACT because they would have to know all of the correct
answers in order to make certain that they didn't get any correct. I tend
to disagree with that statement for two reasons. First, after taking the
test a couple times, it is obvious that you can almost always eliminate
two of the answers, and always eliminate one because they are obviously
incorrect. Second, I doubt that it is even possible to make a "0" because
on many similar tests, there is a base score that you get for just turning
it in before it has been scored.

I'm not sure if this could possibly be true, but once my chem teacher said one year his best student got mad at him about something and purposely got a zero on his final exam. The teacher gave him a hundred because he figured he must have known all the answers to be able to get every one wrong. But of course, he could've been just reciting an urban legend because you know teachers have a fondness for doing that! [Wink]
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dramaqueen872005
Jingle Bell Hock


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Wish me luck, I am taking the SAT this Saturday... oh boy not looking forward to it. Oh well, you've gotta give it your best shot, workshop things don't do squat. They only teach you strategies, which you forget when you take the test, in your mad rush to answer all the questions in the small alotted time. Its gay. Dont waste your money. I didn't, went to some free workshops... anyways.

Miss Wish Me Luck! I have to go to college!! Drama

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"Yeah," Brent muttered. "The original Rebel Without a Brain."
~Drive me Wild, Julie Ortolon

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FaithHopeLove
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Miss Drama with the candlestick:
Wish me luck, I am taking the SAT this Saturday... oh boy not looking forward to it. Oh well, you've gotta give it your best shot, workshop things don't do squat. They only teach you strategies, which you forget when you take the test, in your mad rush to answer all the questions in the small alotted time. Its gay. Dont waste your money. I didn't, went to some free workshops... anyways.

Miss Wish Me Luck! I have to go to college!! Drama

I found the workshops to be useful for the non-knowledge parts. You know, stuff like making sure you get plenty of sleep, low-carb breakfast, relaxation techniques.

The best actual preparation you can do for the verbal portion is just to read a lot. The more you read, the more you can tell whether something 'sounds right' or not.

Good luck on the test, and get plenty of sleep the night before! (No sense in cramming!)

Faith "1400" Love

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DawnStorm
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Pogue Banana Man:
Each portion of the SAT (math and English) has a scoring range of 200-800. Thus, the lowest possible score is 400; the highest is 1600.


Pogue

It must've changed because when I took the SAT back in the early 80's I got a 280 on the math section. I stink in math and I know it. I'm still wondering where that 280 came from. [dunce]

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Astra
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You scored a 280 only on the MATH section. The minimum 400 score is for the entire test, combined math and verbal.

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This has been yet another... USELESS POST.

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dramaqueen872005
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I know I'm pulling up a thread that hasn't been posted to in a while. Anyways, I got an 1120 on my first ever SAT. I'm proud of myself! [Smile]

Miss Drama

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"I'm Jimmy Joe Dean," he said, "Sort of like James Dean, but with a Texas twist"
"Yeah," Brent muttered. "The original Rebel Without a Brain."
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Isaac
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I didn't realize that answering questions incorrectly actually subtracted from your score on the SAT test. I took the ACT test, then took the SAT test the same way I took the ACT test, with at least one circle filled in for every question. They recommended that for taking the ACT tests, because even one good guess could put you well ahead. I assumed, perhaps foolishly, that the SAT scores were calculated the same way. Oh well. I got 1290. Is that good? I honestly never bothered to find out. I'm in college now and I suppose it doesn't really matter.

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Astra
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Most college seem to consider 1000 about average, 1200 a bit above average, and 1400 excellent. 1500 will get you about anything.

So yeah, 1290 is pretty darn good, IMO.

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mizake the mizan
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do you get a 0 if you are caught cheating?
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Casey, making hot chocolate
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The test is designed so a 1000 is perfectly average. Once you get into the 1270+ range, you're set.

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HazyCosmicJive
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quote:
Originally posted by mizake the mizan:
do you get a 0 if you are caught cheating?

Great question. The answer is no. If you get caught cheating, your score is "cancelled," that is, it's like you never took the test. There was a huge cheating scandal recently that resulted in the cancellation of the scores for everyone in the room whether they cheated or not. Unfortunately I can't find a specific article on that case, but here is an article on the generalities of cheating on the SAT.

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snopes
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Comment: A few years ago during my junior year in high school, everyone
was in crush time for the SATs. The urban legend most talked about was a
student who answered every single question incorrectly, obtaining the
worst possible score. He then applied to Harvard, explaining his score by
saying it would "statistically impossible" for him to answer every
question incorrect unless he knew all the correct answers and is
subsequently admitted into Harvard. I knew statistically it wasn't
impossible, but could anything like this happen?

It has all the trappings of a wish urban legend, and the sort of temerity
and cleverness of the usual collegiate legend.

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Em
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I heard a similar story when I was doing my initial technical training after joining the navy.

Apparently, half-way through training, someone decided that they didn't want to be there any more, but they had passed the point at which they could just quit. They answered every question wrong on one of their multiple-choice exams in order to be academically discharged, but were given a pass mark anyway. The theory was that to have missed every correct answer they would have needed to know which answers were correct in order to avoid choosing them. Therefore they had a good understanding of the subject material and had basically scored 100% by default in an arse-about kind of way.

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El Camino
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Statistics aside, it wouldn't be that hard to get all the questions wrong on the SAT. Think about it, to get all the questions wrong you don't have to know the right answer, just that one answer is wrong. You can almost always eliminate on answer as being wrong, so if you pick that one every time you could pretty easily get them all wrong. You couldn't be a total idiot, but you wouldn't have to be a genius either.
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ASL
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quote:
Originally posted by Em:
I heard a similar story when I was doing my initial technical training after joining the navy.

Apparently, half-way through training, someone decided that they didn't want to be there any more, but they had passed the point at which they could just quit. They answered every question wrong on one of their multiple-choice exams in order to be academically discharged, but were given a pass mark anyway. The theory was that to have missed every correct answer they would have needed to know which answers were correct in order to avoid choosing them. Therefore they had a good understanding of the subject material and had basically scored 100% by default in an arse-about kind of way.

If, IF that happened (which I doubt) it's more likely they said "Yeah, we've seen people try that one before, and it doesn't work" the reason being that if someone does reasonably or exceptionally well up to a certain point and then suddenlys starts scoring really low they must be trying to fail out intentionally to back out of their enlistment contract.

However, more likely than just passing the little twit, they probably would have failed him and sent his butt off to deck department on a carrier so he could spend the rest of his enlistment painting and carrying out manual labor.

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IanKunX
Baby 100 Grand


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The best way to take the SAT is to get yourself diagnosed with some kind of learning disability(Which ain't hard, these days, though I personally really DO have Asperger's syndrome), and then say you need extra time for the test(I didn't even ask, they just gave it to me).

For me this entailed being placed in a room by myself with only a person watching me, and allowed to go at my own pace and take breaks between sections as needed. The total lack of pressure combined with my natural lack of stressing about tests resulted in me leaving BEFORE everyone else by a good bit, and a 1380(760 verbal, 620 math, shouldn't have tried to answer the geometry stuff I never got taught).

YMMV, I suppose, though. Some people really freak out at tests. Me, I just trust my gut and don't worry about it. X3 Biggest problem I have is those frickin' bubbles. My eyesight sucks, and so does my coordination. :-P

I just wish I remembered those darned words. There was one of those 'blank is to blank as blah is to blah' questions, and I had no earthly idea because I'd never seen either word before in my life, and their meanings weren't easily inferred because they lacked any common elements. Phooey.

Posts: 31 | From: Northern California | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
robbiev - singin' off key
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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An interesting version I heard of this was that someone could take the test, but not answer any questions and get a 100% score, since the person techincally did not answer any questions incorrectly.

In general, I always knew that couldn't be correct, but I heard it several times.

Robbie -I refuse to answer- 427

--------------------
Every time I see a good looking woman, I think, "0oooh. There's another one I'll never have!"

Corvette. The louder you scream, the faster I'll go.

Posts: 1820 | From: Memphis, TN | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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