As a general rule of thumb, SAT test takers aim to attain the highest score possible. Naturally, any student would jump at a chance for a higher SAT score, especially if it just requires taking the test at a specific time of year. According to one rumor, in January or June, there is a trend in which the overall test taking population does poorly, resulting in favorable alterations and higher scores.
Too bad it isn’t true. According to the College Board, the SAT is scored equally from test version to test version and standardized nationally through a method called “equating.”
“On every SAT there are nine sections that are scored and then there’s a 10th section on what they call experimental or equating section,” Aaron Andrikopoulos, an SAT tutor at AJ Tutoring in Palo Alto, says. “They use that section to run a statistical analysis on all of the students who are taking a test on a given test date.”
The College Board uses the data from the 10th section, which remains unchanged each year to make a standardized curve as an accurate guideline to measure the difficulty of a SAT test and adjust scores proportionately.
“Equating adjusts for slight differences in difficulty between test editions and ensures that a student’s score of, say, 450 on one edition of a test reflects the same ability as a score of 450 on another edition of the test,” the College Board’s SAT score explanation page states.
With this standardization, test takers are guaranteed fair accurate scoring on the SAT regardless of when the test is taken.
The standardization of the SAT is made accurate for good reason. In 2006, the College Board ran a national validity study of the SAT to evaluate its effectiveness in predicting college outcomes.
“Studies have found that the SAT is not only a valid predictor of first-year college GPA, but also predicts fourth-year cumulative GPA,” the College Board says in a presentation on the validity of the SAT. “As a result, colleges and universities need to be sure that each admission factor [such as the SAT] is a valid and reliable predictor of desired college outcomes for their specific population of students.”
Therefore it would be beneficial to both the student and the colleges they apply to if the SAT scores authentically reflected the student’s best abilities to find the college that best suits the students.
“If you get your score up artificially high, you’re going to be in a school that might not end up being the best match for you and you’re going to be in there heel over heads,” Andrikopoulos says.