Score conversion of new SAT, old SAT is not fair

November 14, 2016 — by Caitlyn Chen

Junior shares opinion on SAT score conversion between the old test and new one. 

Unfortunately, for all who haven’t finished taking our SATs, the last fair standardized general SAT test was administered during January of this year.

There are many reasons to dislike standardized tests, especially the SAT, and there are many reasons to call them unfair, but one objective truth is that the new SAT with a 1,600-point scale has an unfair conversion system. That is to say that the new SAT, which was first administered on March, is unfairly scored when compared to the old 2,400-point scale SAT.

If colleges are to convert all these scores to the old SAT’s 2,400-point scale, these conversions are mathematically biased toward the old SAT.

Whereas the new SAT has 800 of the total 1,600 points from the Math section, the old SAT only has one third of its points from Math — that is, 800 of the 2,400 total points.

Some people see the higher weight for math as a more fair distribution between linguistic and mathematical scores, but unfortunately, when the new SAT scores are converted back to the old SAT scores, math scores are still reduced in their importance.

In other words, whereas the math score accounts for 50 percent of the total score on the new SAT, the math score on the old SAT only accounted for 33.3 percent of the total score. Therefore, converting scores from the new SAT to the old SAT would make math weigh less overall, decreasing the total scores of those who do well on math.

For instance, if a student were to get two questions wrong on the math section of the new SAT, their score would be about 780 for math. Assuming he or she scored a perfect 800 on Reading and Writing, he or she would receive a 1,580 total on the new SAT. If the same person got two questions wrong on the old SAT, they would receive 770 for Math and 2,370 total. But in reality, when the scores are converted using CollegeBoard’s conversion site, even when he or she received a 1,580 on the new SAT, his or her score would be only 2,350 when converted to the 2,400 old SAT scale, as compared to a more reasonable 2370.

Until colleges stop converting scores to the 2,400 scale, the new SAT scores will continue to be lowered by the conversion to the old SAT for those who excel in math.

Furthermore, even if a student receives a perfect score for the writing section of the new SAT, they would only receive an 790 out of 800 on the old SAT. This means that even if a student got a perfect 1600 on the new SAT, they could only receive at most a 2,390 on the old SAT. It doesn’t seem right that 10 points from the writing section would just be neglected by the conversion.

Therefore, instead of converting new SAT scores to a score on a 2,400 scale, a new conversion should be released for the sub sections of the test. This would ensure that the weight of the reading, writing and math sections won’t be weighed differently when grouped into a total score.

Additionally, these subscores should be calculated in proportion by not only the number of problems, but also their difficulty, so every student receives the score they deserve. And although it may be difficult to implement and publish such a scoring conversion, it would ultimately make the standardized-testing for high school students closer to being standardized.

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