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SAT Percentiles

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SAT Percentiles 2011

The SAT percentile score portray the position of a student, based on the comparisons of the other students too, who have in turn attended the examination. Thus, the percentile score gives a clear picture to a student about where he stands in the exam.

Before getting to the stage of percentile scores, the scaled scores are calculated from the raw scores. The raw scores are the typical scores that are allotted to each section of the SAT test and SAT subject test. After the stage of raw scores, the scaled scores are calculated by a process called as, ‘equating’. This process ensures that the marks are allotted, irrespective of the different versions of SAT examinations, attended by people at different times. Hence, the students’ ability and their aptitude are given more importance and also assured clarity in the score allotment procedures. Say for example, if a student’s percentile mark is 90% in math section in SAT test, then it means, 90% of other students, who had attended the examination have scored less than him/her. The percentile mark is a number between 1 and 99, which represents the position of a student in the entire examination.

The actual objective of SAT is praiseworthy and of course, the percentile mark is one good example for the qualitative analysis of SAT examination. But, the percentile mark is calculated only from the current scores and it also gets varied every now and then, as it is compared with the marks scored by the other students, hence accordingly it gets varied and thus, the percentile mark is not a fixed one. The other fact that to be considered seriously regarding the percentile scores is that only the current scores would be used for percentile calculation, thus if a student has attended the SAT test in the last year, it would not be considered. These situations would definitely throw the candidates into pressurized conditions.

In case, if some colleges/universities are very particular about the percentile marks, then it would become very difficult for the students, as they cannot trust their scored to be the same, as it appeared on the report status. This could be one big drawback of the percentile scores of the SAT test. That too, the SAT percentile marks are provided for each section of the SAT test. In case of SAT test, there are three sections, namely math, reading and writing skills. Hence, the SAT test comprises of questions from these sections. Thus in this case, the percentile mark is provided for math section, reading section and writing section too. Hence, this would affect the student’s career, especially when a student is scoring less percentile marks in a particular section, which he/she feels, as his/her strength, i.e. scoring low percentile marks would affect a students’ college education, especially when the student wishes to take mathematics as his/her major stream in the college education.

In my humble opinion, I feel that the percentile marks would be more acceptable, if it is provided for overall marks scored in the examination, rather for each section of the examination. Anyways, the steps taken by the Central Board (a nonprofit organization), which is responsible for conducting and organizing the SAT examination in most of the colleges/universities/schools in the United States of America is definitely to be praised, especially for its vision to render a quality entrance test to measure the readiness of a student into college education.


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