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Thread: SAT Scores

  1. #1
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    Default SAT Scores

    Are SAT scores really good at measuring your "intelligence or thinking" or whatever it is they measure? For colleges in general which SAT scores are considered high and passing or poor and failing?
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Array Derpravity's Avatar
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    SATs are more or less glorified IQ tests. So if you trust the IQ system, there you go.

    I think one of the key areas of intelligence that IQ measuring misses is rationality, and therefore SATs miss that -- the ability to think critically about things at a higher level, not just solve an immediate problem as instructed, which ought to be at least equally important for someone entering university or such. IQ testing has some pretty obvious limitations, and yet it tends to get treated as litmus test with a finality it doesn't really deserve.

    There's a good summary of a key book about the issue of dismissed rationality here on a rationality blog I've brought up before, Less Wrong. The book is called "What Intelligence Tests Miss" by Keith E. Stanovich, and it's not hard to get ahold of. It explains why George W. Bush's detractors were so startled to discover that he scored well on IQ tests, in spite of some of the ways he acted which seem "unintelligent" or "lacking common sense"; Stanovich proposes that George W simply lacks the kind of critical thinking skills and intellectual curiosity which don't show up on IQ tests (or, by extension, tests like the SAT).

    I can't tell you what a good or bad SAT score is, though.

    Two general principles I keep in mind are 1) that tests like the SAT are fairly incomplete as evaluations of your intelligence and reasoning, so you shouldn't feel too dumb if your score is lower than you'd like, or too certain of yourself based merely on a very high score, and 2) universities in my experience don't have terribly high standards, depending on the college/university you're aiming for, where you are/the school is, and what kind of course you're trying to get into. (Humanities, for example, should be easy.)
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  3. #3
    Alchemist of life Array Coriolis's Avatar
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    SAT is basically a very lucrative racket for the Educational Testing Service, which has a monopoly on their administration and the selling of official copies of student scores. They tell far less than the combination of application essays, teacher recommendation, transcript/rank in class, and personal interview. Of course, these measures take more time and money for universities to implement, so most use the SAT or ACT as a poor substitute/shortcut.
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  4. #4


    The SAT is far less useful than it used to be. It used to be a decent barometer of readiness for college by measuring both knowledge and simple problem solving skills. However, two developments have made something of a mockery of the test.

    1. A trend of declining scores prompted a rescaling of the test's scoring system in 1995; instead of tackling the problem by preparing students better, they just made it so that the same performance got a higher score. To compare a pre-1995 score to a post-1995 score, you need to take about 100 to 130 points off of the latter.

    2. The epidemic of test-preparation services have created an environment in which students can get a decent score simply by understanding how the test works instead of by knowing the material. Instead of having to amass knowledge, now students are simply coached on how to game the test. I worked as an SAT tutor for a while, and I saw some rather lackluster students increase their score dramatically without actually learning anything of value. I hesitate to call it cheating, but it certainly devalues the results.

    The SAT was never meant to be anything but one of several methods of evaluation for college admissions, and certainly secondary to a high school transcript. But like Coriolis pointed out, it's just easier to use the SAT, so people do. At this point, I think it's a pretty irrelevant measure of anything except how kids with money can beat the system yet again.
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  5. #5
    Junior Member Array Stumblebum's Avatar
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    Frankly, I think that SATs are only a significant indicator of intelligence if they're very high or very low. If someone has a 1200 (of 2400), chances are they're rather slow. If someone has a 2400 (of 2400), chances are they're quite bright.

    If you're looking for type correlation, I can provide data based on PSAT results, which are really just projected SAT scores anyway. Unfortunately, most people that I know well scored highly, so I'm mostly reporting those who fall into the 95th+ percentile.

    Myself (ENTP): 194 (so 1940)
    INTP: 197
    ISxP: 198
    ESTJ: 192
    ESFJ: 208
    ESFJ: 200
    ESFJ: 176
    ESFJ: 152
    ENTJ: 236 (o.-)
    ISFP: 1540 (actual SAT result)
    ENTP: 2360 (omgz)

    I fall into a nasty habit of developing an intense obsession with these scores, but I know they don't really mean much. Intelligence is rarely appropriate to quantify or qualify.

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