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Posts Tagged ‘SAT’

Not-So-National Merit

Last December, thousands of high school sophomores and juniors learned the results of the 2013 Preliminary SAT (PSAT) test.  The juniors’ test scores will be used to determine whether they qualify as semifinalists for the prestigious National Merit Scholarship, which in turn makes them eligible for a host of automatic college scholarships.  (Sophomores take the test just as practice.)

The juniors will have to wait to find out for sure if they qualify until September, just before they begin submitting applications to colleges across the country.  But it is fairly straightforward to predict, based on their scores and last year’s cutoffs, whether they will qualify as semifinalists.

Many students would be surprised to learn that qualification depends not only on how high they score, but also on where they go to school.   The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) sets different qualifying cutoffs for each state to “ensure that academically talented young people from all parts of the United States are included in this talent pool.”  They have not disclosed any specific criteria for setting the state cutoffs.

A Small Nudge For College Enrollment?

A new working paper by George Bulman, a Stanford Ph.D. candidate and former Teach for America teacher, looks at whether having an in-school SAT or ACT testing center affects test-taking and college enrollment: Because the additional cost of taking the exam at a neighboring high school is very small, standard economic models suggest that there should be no effect. To . . .

How to Guess Better on an SAT

A nice analytic giblet from a Times profile of new Nobel economists Thomas Sargent and Christopher Sims:

Because of his father’s College Board connections, Mr. Sims got hold of an old SAT exam, which he and Mr. Willoughby used to conduct a statistical analysis. They found that on multiple-choice questions in English and social studies, the “longer answers tended to be correct.” In math, they determined that the number that was “closest to all of the other numerical choices” was probably the right one.

I do wonder if those patterns still hold true in standardized tests. Of course, you can always pay someone else to take the test for you.

What Do Lolita and Freakonomics Have in Common?

A Cal Tech grad student put together a list of the most popular books across college campuses and then correlated those book choices with S.A.T. scores at those schools. His results reveal that the five books with the highest average S.A.T. scores are Lolita, 100 Years of Solitude, Crime and Punishment, Freakonomics, and Atlas Shrugged. Among those five books, I . . .