Standardized Tests

4 Apr 2017
This is part two of a multipart series on the quality of commercial test-preparation material.

In part one, I made the rather unoriginal claim that most commercial test-prep material sucks, and suggested that one major reason it's so bad is that doing good work is hard and that there is insufficient financial incentive for publishers to put resources into doing it right.

30 Mar 2017
Yesterday, I picked up a recent edition of the Kaplan SAT Subject Test Literature guide (the 2015-2016 edition, which I gather is actually identical to the more recent edition) and went through the diagnostic test in it. Unfortunately, this mock test had so many flaws and outright errors, was so unrepresentative of the actual Literature Test, that it's hard to see how it could diagnose much of anything. Just how terrible was it? Here's just one example:
2 Oct 2014
Over the last few weeks, there has been a spate of news items about various conservatives bashing the College Board's framework for the AP U.S. History test, culminating in the Colorado students who have been protesting their school board's attempts to change the AP curriculum.
2 Jan 2012

Can the SAT be gamed? (Part I)

Submitted by Karl Hagen
In December, the New York Times had a "Room for Debate" piece called Why Does the SAT Endure? The viewpoints expressed include those of two psychometricians, a college admissions officer, someone working for a test-prep company, and an education policy wonk. Taken together, the pieces didn't constitute much of a debate, but the introduction to the discussion poses the question of why the SAT is still around if, as its critics say, it can be gamed.
31 Dec 2011

If not this, then what?

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Standardized tests in general, and the SAT in particular, get a lot of bad press. Companies like Princeton Review build their entire marketing strategy on trash talk about how horrible the test is. Organizations like Fair Test campaign for abandoning the use of the SAT (and the ACT) in college admissions, claiming that it is both biased and ineffective.
21 Jun 2008

The Predictive Validity of the SAT

Submitted by Karl Hagen
A few days ago, the New York times carried an article about the SAT with the headline "Study Finds Little Benefit in New SAT."

Here's the lede:

The revamped SAT, expanded three years ago to include a writing test, predicts college success no better than the old test, and not quite as well as a student’s high school grades

5 Jul 2007
This is part 2 of a series.
(Part 1, Part 3)

The instructions for the writing sections of the the SAT ask the test taker to use the conventions of "standard written English" in finding correct answers. But as I noted in part 1 of this article, the public specifications as to what that means, are vague.



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