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SAT college entrance test

The SATs are standardized tests, formerly called the Scholastic Aptitude Tests, frequently used by colleges and universities in the United States to aid in the selection of incoming freshmen. The SAT is the product of the Educational Testing Service (ETS), a subsidiary of the private, non-profit firm, the College Board. These organizations have a mail address in Princeton, New Jersey, but are not associated with Princeton University.

The tests are generally taken by high school students or graduates wishing to progress to higher education. Test results of applicants are provided to colleges and universities. Universities use tests such as the SAT and the ACT as a standard way of assessing students that come from many different schools that use different GPA or grading systems.

Entrance to these universities is also almost always based on other factors such as GPA, teacher recommendations, and participation in extracurricular activities, but there is often a threshold score that automatically qualifies a candidate for admission who has scored at least that high. Scores on the SAT have also been used as a criterion for the awarding of many academic scholarships.

The SAT I: Reasoning Test is in two sections: math and verbal. Scores on each test range from 200 to 800. The test is presented in seven sections, three math, three verbal, and one ungraded experimental section which may be either math or verbal. Each of the seven sections is ordered first by question type, then by difficulty, with the exception of the critical reading question type, which is organized chronologically. For each correct answer, one raw point is added; for each incorrect answer on a question with 5 answer choices, a fourth of a point is deducted; for each incorrect answer on a question with 4 answer choices, a third of a point is deducted. Ten of the questions in the quantitative section are not multiple-choice. They instead require the test taker to input the actual result of their calculations in a five column grid. For these questions, no points are deducted for a wrong answer. Answer choices are often littered with distractors or Joe Blogs (usually common mistakes or incomplete calculations). The average student for whom ETS designs the test will usually rush through the first portion of easy questions and will usually get the difficult questions which follow wrong.

The SAT II: Subject tests are one-hour mostly multiple-choice tests given in individual subjects. The 22 Subject Tests include: Writing (with an essay), Literature, U.S. History, World History, Math Level IC, Math Level IIC, Biology E/M (Ecological or Molecular), Chemistry, Physics, French Reading, French Reading with Listening, German Reading, German Reading with Listening, Spanish Reading, Spanish Reading with Listening, Modern Hebrew Reading, Italian Reading, Latin Reading with Listening, Japanese Reading with Listening, Korean Reading with Listening, Chinese Reading with Listening, and the English Language Proficiency Test. Each individual test is worth 800 points, and colleges often require the writing test, a math test, and a test of the student's choice.

Table of contents
1 History and name changes
2 Harsh criticism
3 External links

History and name changes

The initials SAT have been used since the test was first introduced in 1901 as the Scholastic Achievement Test and meant to measure the level achieved by students seeking college admission. The test was used mainly by colleges and universities in the northeastern United States. In 1941, after considerable development, the name was changed to the Scholastic Aptitude Test, still the most popular name. The test became much more widely used in the 1950s and 1960s and once was almost universal.

The success of SAT coaching schools, such as Kaplan and the Princeton Review, forced the College Board to change the name again. In 1990, the name was changed to Scholastic Assessment Test, since a test that can be coached clearly did not measure inherent "scholastic aptitude" but only what the test subject had learned in school. This was a major theoretical retreat by the Educational Testing Service, which had previously maintained that the test measured inherent aptitude and was free of bias.

In 1994, however, the redundancy of the term assessment test was recognized and the name was changed to the neutral, and non-descriptive, SAT. At the time, the College Board announced, "Please note that SAT is not an initialism. It does not stand for anything."

Harsh criticism

The SAT I has long been the subject of criticism. Critics claim the SAT I is biased towards males and whites. Opponents to the SAT propose different solutions, including the offering of different SAT tests targeted at different demographic groups. Furthermore, many of the multiple-choice questions and word analogies have been found to be ambiguous, and some math scores have had to be changed because of errors in scoring them.

One out of four colleges have made the SAT I optional and have begun to pay more attention to other measures of student ability. The University of California system has started to weigh SAT IIs more heavily instead. Other colleges have encouraged the use of the alternate ACT (examination) instead. Overall SAT averages for admission are still the subject of self-promotion by colleges and universities, however.

Unlike the SAT I, the SAT IIs has received less controversy, partly because they are more content oriented.

In 2001, Richard C. Atkinson, president of the University of California, urged dropping the SAT I as a college admissions requirement, in a speech to the American Council of Education. Here are some selections from his talk:

"Anyone involved in education should be concerned about how overemphasis on the SAT is distorting educational priorities and practices, how the test is perceived by many as unfair, and how it can have a devastating impact on the self-esteem and aspirations of young students. There is widespread agreement that overemphasis on the SAT harms American education."


"And in 1996, [the College Board] dropped the name altogether and said that the "SAT" was the "SAT" and that the initials no longer stood for anything. Rather than resolving the problem, this rhetorical sleight-of-hand served to underscore the mystery of what the SAT is supposed to measure. ... [People] have no way of knowing what the SAT measures."

In response, the college board has announced that in 2005, a new version of the SAT I will become effective, which will include a writing section, the abolition of analogies, shorter reading sections. In addition, the math section will be expanded to cover three years of high school math. Instead of just covering concepts from Geometry and Algebra I, the new SAT math section will contain concepts from Geometry, Algebra I and Algebra II.

See also: List of admissions tests

External links