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Author Topic: Getting a 0 on the SAT
Errata
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I was the same way. I got a 2240 combined on my GRE, which was well into the 99th percentile, but my GPA was barely 3.0. Thats because while I do well on finals and midterms and such, I usually lost points for forgetting assignments and labs. I also had a couple of Fs from foreign languages, the bane of my academic career. I also had a 1520 SAT (just before they renormalized it) but only a B- average in high school for the same reason as college (actually I was much worse about homework in high school, but the grades were easier so B- was worse). Because of the grades, I only got into a good university as a transfer student after a year at a small state school. I could have gotten into a decent grad school, but only on the basis of extracurricular accomplishments, otherwise the 3.0 would have dragged me down. That one year at an easy college was the only time I was ever considered a good student and got a 4.0.
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badvegas77632
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i just retook my SAT test recently and ask the guy about this and he said it is impossible to make a 0 on it.

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El Camino
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quote:
Originally posted by Errata:
The premise seems to imply that getting a perfect score would get you a scholarship to Harvard, which just isn't the case. Especially since they changed it in the mid 90's so you could get several questions wrong and still get the same perfect score as someone who got them all right. Getting a perfect score on the SATs will get you a small advantage, but it will still come down to grades and extracurriculars every time. You might get rejected for a low enough score, but you wont get accepted for a high enough score, much less given a free ride.

And as others have mentioned, there is a certain amount of guessing involved on multiple choice, and not picking the correct answers is far easier than picking the correct ones, both because of the obviously wrong answers and because even if you make a few mistakes the odds are you'll still pick wrong answers. Its like taking a test where every question has 4 right answers and 1 wrong one. Passing such a test wouldnt necessarily mean you fully understood the material.

As for why the bizarre scoring system from 400-1600, if they make the average a nice round, easily understood 1000, then the minimum and maximum are both equally far away from that. This is an artifact of the fact that its normalized along a bell curve, with standard deviations of around 200. Interestingly its always in multiples of 10, so they could easily have scaled it down by that factor, but didn't. I think the original SAT was based on the iq test scoring methodology, but multiplied to avoid direct comparisons. As it was reformed over time though, it became less and less like a psuedo-iq test, but it had to keep the same scoring range for historical continuity.

Don't even get me started on admissions to those elite-elite schools like Harvard, Yale and whatever. For those schools, high grades AND amazing SATs do not always equal acceptance. I would say usually they don't, without somehting else to boost yourself as a candidate. A friend of mine from high school got a 1600 on his SATs and was third in our class of almost 300 at a very good public school, with a GPA well over 100%. He was rejected from both MIT and Stanford.
Basically, to get into Harvard, you need one of several things in addition to grades and SAT scores:
- Some amazing ability, like being a great artist, musician, or athlete who already has some notable achievements.
- To have already done some sort of recognized work, like having a research or lab paper published.
- Have alumni connections.
- Be a minority.
- Have something else special to offer that goes WAY beyond even exceptional intelligence or something like that.

SATs especially are having less and less emphasis among many schools, especially smaller ones. My school doesn't even have mandatory SAT I's, and I'd have to say we're a pretty prestigious school.

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Hero_Mike
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quote:
Originally posted by El Camino:
Basically, to get into Harvard, you need one of several things in addition to grades and SAT scores:
- Some amazing ability, like being a great artist, musician, or athlete who already has some notable achievements.
- To have already done some sort of recognized work, like having a research or lab paper published.
- Have alumni connections.
- Be a minority.
- Have something else special to offer that goes WAY beyond even exceptional intelligence or something like that.

"Be a minority"?

I smell racism...

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Errata
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Its kind of true. If you're an underrepresented minority with excellent SAT scores and grades, then its something that will give you a leg up over white or Asian students with the same qualifications. Or if you're a female in a heavily male dominated field, that would also count as being special.

But the fact is that the most difficult to get into schools still aren't as diverse as they could be, so clearly its not full fledged affirmative action with a quota system.

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El Camino
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quote:
Originally posted by Hero_Mike:
quote:
Originally posted by El Camino:
Basically, to get into Harvard, you need one of several things in addition to grades and SAT scores:
- Some amazing ability, like being a great artist, musician, or athlete who already has some notable achievements.
- To have already done some sort of recognized work, like having a research or lab paper published.
- Have alumni connections.
- Be a minority.
- Have something else special to offer that goes WAY beyond even exceptional intelligence or something like that.

"Be a minority"?

I smell racism...

Racism? I smell fact. It's not like these schools are shy about the benefits minorities get in the admissions process. It's not a secret. Notice I made no judgement in my statement above, never said that it was wrong or right. And it's not that these minorities students are underqualified: they're all very bright people with great accomplishments by anyone's standards. But in a pool full of these brilliant minds, preference is given to minorities in order to increase diversity. This is a good thing, to a point. The real mess in the system is the alumni connections. They still have such a huge impact on the system, and this does allow underqualified students into the system.
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Bill
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by El Camino:

Racism? I smell fact. It's not like these schools are shy about the benefits minorities get in the admissions process. It's not a secret. Notice I made no judgement in my statement above, never said that it was wrong or right. And it's not that these minorities students are underqualified: they're all very bright people with great accomplishments by anyone's standards. But in a pool full of these brilliant minds, preference is given to minorities in order to increase diversity. This is a good thing, to a point. The real mess in the system is the alumni connections. They still have such a huge impact on the system, and this does allow underqualified students into the system. [/QB]

The argument goes that we have to have preference for minorities because it's less offensive than preference for alumni children ("legacy admissions"), which is a form of "affirmative action for whites" and generally people who are better off to begin with.

And, I'll agree, if preference for minorities means a little help for some kid that grew up poor and without a father, that doesn't bother me.

But, it seems that race usually counts for far more in the process than legacy status. According to the piece below, at one institution being a legacy counts for four points on the 150-point scale; being black counts for 20. I've also heard that it tends to be a "tie-breaker" in borderline cases rather than a means of admitting people who are way underqualified.

http://www.jewishworldreview.com/jeff/jacoby052703.asp

I agree with this. I don't like legacy admissions either (and never benefited from them), but I can see where they're coming from. And, as a friend of mine once said, even if the alumni kids get a slight preference, if the alumni donations help pay for scholarships for minorities, the minorities benefit as well, in a way they would not otherwise.

Thanks.

Bill

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Casey, making hot chocolate
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quote:
Originally posted by Hero_Mike:
"Be a minority"?

I smell racism...

I smell lots of fact. UT's requirements for scholarships differ based on race. If I remember correctly, for a full scholarship, the difference was about three tenths on the GPA and a couple hundred on the SAT.

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ThistleSoftware
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by El Camino:
Don't even get me started on admissions to those elite-elite schools like Harvard, Yale and whatever. For those schools, high grades AND amazing SATs do not always equal acceptance. I would say usually they don't, without somehting else to boost yourself as a candidate. A friend of mine from high school got a 1600 on his SATs and was third in our class of almost 300 at a very good public school, with a GPA well over 100%. He was rejected from both MIT and Stanford.
Basically, to get into Harvard, you need one of several things in addition to grades and SAT scores:
- Some amazing ability, like being a great artist, musician, or athlete who already has some notable achievements.
- To have already done some sort of recognized work, like having a research or lab paper published.
- Have alumni connections.
- Be a minority.
- Have something else special to offer that goes WAY beyond even exceptional intelligence or something like that.

SATs especially are having less and less emphasis among many schools, especially smaller ones. My school doesn't even have mandatory SAT I's, and I'd have to say we're a pretty prestigious school.

I think all colleges look for students who are not just spectacular in academics, but also well-rounded people in general. A college is a much more healthy, intellectually stimulating place if it is populated by people who do extracurriculars and get involved with life outside of the classroom, instead of students who care about nothing but grades and test scores. There's really nothing unfair about universities wanted a diverse array of students, both ethnically and in their background and interests.

edited for spelling.

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ThistleSoftware
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quote:
Originally posted by Casey:
quote:
Originally posted by Hero_Mike:
"Be a minority"?

I smell racism...

I smell lots of fact. UT's requirements for scholarships differ based on race. If I remember correctly, for a full scholarship, the difference was about three tenths on the GPA and a couple hundred on the SAT.
The requirements for a scholarship are not the same as the requirements for admission to the university.

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Ulkomaalainen
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I would like to second ThistleS. I would prefer a very good expert with good communication skills over an extremely good expert with poor communication skills. And extracurricular activities correlate heavily with those communication skills. It's like with sport teams: you're not trying to get the best athletes, but you're trying to get the best team.

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Casey, making hot chocolate
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It's a public school, Thistle, so I go off what I have.

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ThistleSoftware
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Casey:
It's a public school, Thistle, so I go off what I have.

Do you mean that the scholarship requirements are the same as the university entrance requirements?

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Officially Heartless

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El Camino
We Three Blings


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The University of Michigan used a point system (it was challenged in court, and I think upheld, but I'm not current on that) for admission. It gave 4 points for being a legacy. 16 for a perfect score on the SAT. And 20 for being an underrepresented minority. These are definitely admission factors.

And I'd say the legacy thing comes into play the most not at public schools but at big, elite institutions, especially Harvard, Yale, Princton, and the like.

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Casey, making hot chocolate
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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If you have a GED, you can go to the University of Toledo. I was using the scholarships as a benchmark- same benefits, different requirements to get there.

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"To be or not to be! That is the question! Now, will you answer, dare, double dare, or take the Physical Challenge?" --Mark Summers as Hamlet
Countdown: 177 days and counting... or less. My blog. 14 keyboards owed.

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ThistleSoftware
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Casey:
If you have a GED, you can go to the University of Toledo. I was using the scholarships as a benchmark- same benefits, different requirements to get there.

So, are they general scholarships for anyone who goes to University of Toledo or are they earmarked for people of certain minorities? I don't think it's really fair to compare scholarships with admissions.

edited because I confused, then de-confused, myself.

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jimmy101
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quote:
Originally posted by Rehcsif:
quote:
Originally posted by jimmy101:
quote:
Originally posted by IanKunX:
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, ...

Wow, you left first, "by a good bit", when you were the only one taking the test!

Of course, you also finished last and finished in the average amount of time for that set ot test takers.

Jimmy "yes, I'm helping kick this 2 year old thread" 101

Uh, he said he was in a special room by himself. The implication was there were others taking the test together in a bigger room, and he left before some/many of them.

-Tim "reading comprehension is a terrible thing to waste" aka Rehcsif

Uh, no,
1. He said "a room" not "a special room".
2. There is no indication that there were others taking the test at the same time. I'm not even sure it is a valid assumption. Indeed, I would think there is a good chance that any "special needs" people would be done at a different time from the run of the mill folks.

Jimmy "reading something into a text that is not there is poor comprehension" 101

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El Camino
We Three Blings


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Jimmy, I'm not sure how old you are and thus can't know how long how it's been since you took the SAT's if you ever did. But they are all offered at the same time. And people with special times requirements would be in a seperate room, starting around the same time that the average student does but simply having more time to do the test. In short, Tim is right, Jimmy is wrong. I'd suggest checking your facts before you mock others in the future.
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Errata
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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I dont think there were any special needs kids taking the test when I took it, but it does make more sense for them to start at the same time in different rooms than it does for them to schedule different times entirely for it. SATs are serious business, and some unscrupulous people would send each other answer keys if they took identical tests at different times.
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Louise
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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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.

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

I'm gonna have to say you're wrong about the point deduction. Every question answered wrong is 1/4 of a point, regardless of how many answer choices there are. I took practice SATs many times and took the SATs three times.
Plus, the new SAT has three different types of sections: Math, Writing, and Reading, which means the highest is 2400.

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Casey, making hot chocolate
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by ThistleS:
So, are they general scholarships for anyone who goes to University of Toledo or are they earmarked for people of certain minorities? I don't think it's really fair to compare scholarships with admissions.

edited because I confused, then de-confused, myself.

Some are earmarked, which is why I said what I did.

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"To be or not to be! That is the question! Now, will you answer, dare, double dare, or take the Physical Challenge?" --Mark Summers as Hamlet
Countdown: 177 days and counting... or less. My blog. 14 keyboards owed.

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Louise
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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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. 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

If you omit a question, you get 0 points. All I can say for your preparation is to do many practice tests. It took me three times to get a score of 1350 on the old test. I got 1270 the first time, but my college of choice (Franklin & Marshall, which i got into) had a higher range.

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Errata
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quote:
Originally posted by Louise:
I'm gonna have to say you're wrong about the point deduction. Every question answered wrong is 1/4 of a point, regardless of how many answer choices there are. And every question has 4 answer choices, I've never seen any with 5, and I took practice SATs many times and took the SATs three times.

According to the college board you're wrong about the scoring. And if you were right it wouldn't make any sense at all, since it would give an advantage for totally random guessing, which is meant to be offset by losing (1/(n-1)) points for guessing.

Most of us haven't taken the newest SAT yet, but if they've switched to 4 questions as the default thats a new phenomenon; it always used to be 5. Its a bad choice to have fewer options, in my opinion.

And while a well done writing test might be ok, I think the jury is out on how well the new writing section is going to work out with bored essay reading drones going over them and judging them for god knows what. In my opinion it was better when writing was a seperate SAT2 subject test. Most of the schools I applied to required either a long essay or several short essays, and I think its better for admissions officers to have an actual sample of your writing than a sketchy numerical score. There will be objective criteria for the SAT to keep it as fair as possible, but important elements like humor and style, which can come into play on admission essays, can't be objectively evaluated for a standardized test. Its especially bad if the other tests will suffer by being cut down to keep the whole ordeal from being too grueling.

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Louise
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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Sorry, I forgot there are always 5 questions and that you subtract points for wrong answers. But it is true that every question wrong is a -1/4 of a point, and one omitted is 0, and one right is 1 point. The 1/3 stuff is for a SAT2 subject test.
When I took the SAT one time, a kid sat next to me who obviously needed more time, because he sat there figeting, and then ten minutes from the ending of the section, he started to answer, but did so slowly.

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Pogue Ma-humbug
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quote:
Originally posted by Louise:
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.

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

I'm gonna have to say you're wrong about the point deduction. Every question answered wrong is 1/4 of a point, regardless of how many answer choices there are. I took practice SATs many times and took the SATs three times.
I don't care how many times you took it. I was quoting directly from the SAT guide to the test my daughter took in late 2003. I wasn't making it up. I wasn't guessing at it.

Wrong answers are not worth points as you claim. They are deducted from your raw score.

quote:
Plus, the new SAT has three different types of sections: Math, Writing, and Reading, which means the highest is 2400.
Which was not the case when this thread began more than two years ago.

Sheesh. Let sleeping threads lie.

Pogue

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Illuminatus
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quote:
Originally posted by Troodon:
I'm actually in the interesting situation of applying to graduate school with a 99th percentile GRE subject test and a 2.5 GPA, so I hope you are wrong [Smile]

I haven't gotten any acceptance/rejection letters yet, but it seems that while some schools have a grade cut-off (usually 3.0 for graduate school), others are flexible, and if your entire application is good except for one thing, you have a chance, whether that thing is grades or standardized test scores.

I'm actually in a similar boat, applying to Law Schools with a 2.66 GPA and a 99% LSAT. Some schools are so numbers-driven (Indiana), that they accepted me immediately.

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Elwood
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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Related question: is it true that if you take the standardized tests as a Junior rather than during your Senior year that they are weighted differently? I remember being advised to take the ACT toward the end of my Junior year because I already had a lot of advanced classes behind me and the weighting for having one less year education would be to my benefit. I never thought to question whether or not that was true. I just took the test, got a high enough score to easily get accepted to the nearest university and forgot about the whole thing.

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"If I didn't see it and didn't know it was a real news report, I wouldn't believe it. I mean, how nutty can you get?"-Pat Robertson Oct 26, 2006.

Posts: 2936 | From: Mean Streets of West Virginia | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Rhiandmoi
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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I don't think that they are weighted any differently Elwood. I think they tell you to take them at the end of your Junior year because apps are due in Nov of your Senior year so if you need to retake you can do the June or October retake and still have your scores back in time for your apps.

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I think that hyperbole is the single greatest factor contributing to the decline of society. - My friend Pat.

What is .02 worth?

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Louise
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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That's rather odd. I've never heard of that. I took it junior and senior year, and am pretty sure they were weighed the same. I took the ACT once, so I don't know aout weighing differences year to year.

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Errata
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I don't know about the ACT, but I know that the SAT doesn't do this. But like Rhiandmoi says, you need to take it in your Junior year so you can apply to colleges throughout your Senior year.

The level of knowledge on the math and reading comprehension part of the SAT is really all basic stuff everyone should know by maybe 9th grade or so. The part thats hard is how you apply together that basic knowledge to figure out new situations. Its intended to be a test of your reasoning, not your knowledge. When I took it, the vocabulary on the analogy section was the closest thing to knowledge that might continue improving in your Senior year, but I understand they've changed that part to rely less on vocabulary.

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Louise
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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I hated the SATs!!! They were the bane of my life for about a year, maybe more. If you take the SAT beginning of your senior year, you'll be fine. I took mine in November, I think, and they got sent out.

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"Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." -- Mark Twain

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simone
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by Louise:
I hated the SATs!!! They were the bane of my life for about a year, maybe more. If you take the SAT beginning of your senior year, you'll be fine. I took mine in November, I think, and they got sent out.

I would strongly recommend against waiting to take the SAT until the last moment possible, as doing so leaves one open to the possibility of having a bad test day, underperforming, and then being in a situation in which that is the only score that can be submitted to colleges. It is much better to take the test as early as possible (but not before you feel prepared - ideally, a student would have taken a number of practice tests prior to this), as colleges accept the highest score from each part of the exam (so if you take the test twice, the first time getting a 550 Math and a 600 Verbal, and the second time getting a 600 Math and a 500 Verbal, the score that colleges will look at is a 1200, not a 1150 or 1100).* So if you take it early and do poorly on one or more of the sections, you have time to take it again in the hopes of increasing your score. Taking the SAT more than once will not hurt you, and it can help you a great deal.

*I realize the SAT now has three sections. When I took it and then later tutored for it, it only had two sections, so I still think in terms of that format. The format may have changed, but AFAIK the way in which it is reported has not.

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Louise
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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I took it in my senior year only because I had taken it before and was unsatisfied with my score.

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"Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." -- Mark Twain

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Seaboe Muffinchucker
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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[whisper]I never took the SATs at all[/whisper]

Seaboe

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Education is not the filling of a hard drive, but the lighting of a bulb. -- Yeats via Esprise Me

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Rehcsif
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by Seaboe Muffinchucker:
[whisper]I never took the SATs at all[/whisper]

Seaboe

Me too, although I did take the ACT's, PSAT, and later, the GRE's (general and subject).

Bleah I hate standardized tests, although I generally did well on them.

-Tim

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