The SAT Curve
At least once a week, someone asks me some variation of: “What’s the best month to take the SAT?” “Aren’t some tests harder than others?” “Shouldn’t I steer clear of October because that’s when all the smart kids take the SAT?” etc. etc. etc.
Without really knowing why I’m saying this, I always respond, “Don’t worry about it.” (Somehow, this just-above-average-SAT-math-scoring-brain knows, that’s why they call it “a curve.”)
I know, I know…there are some months when the test is easier or harder, and Erik the Red has posted everything there is to know about the history of such months, though I can’t find any pattern….
Personally, I don’t think it’s a good use of one’s most precious SAT resource (i.e. attention).
That said, I did take the time today to plot my SAT scores from 2011 on “the curve,” to see if there was any light to be shed from firsthand experience.
The short answer is, there isn’t (though if you see something relevant that I missed, please let me know).
Red is hard. Yellow is medium. Green is easy.
The little red boxes are my 2011 SAT Scores.
And if you still need more convincing about this curve thing, read PWN the SAT’s post on the matter.
Incidentally, 1982 happens to be the nadir of SAT scores, as well as the year I first took the SAT in high school (twice). Erik the Red suggested that maybe I brought down the curve.
But, my first thought was, “I knew it; I was hampered!” (Though hampered by what, I have no idea.)
I’m really looking forward to reading this College Board report about the score decline this evening to see what they have to say about the matter.
From the top of page 44, (the summary chapter):
“If you turned to this concluding section for a quick and easy understanding of the panel’s views on the decline of test scores, you are indulging in a practice like some of the educational shortcuts that may have contributed to the decline.”
(I believe that might be a little bit of College Board humor, no?)
llustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis