Friday, January 21, 2011

Students are more likely to retake the SAT if their score ends with '90'

High school students are more likely to retake the SAT if they score just below a round number, such as 1290 v. 1300 (~2090 v. 2100 on the new SAT), than if they score just above it. That's the conclusion of a study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, which found that round numbers are strong motivators. 

In theory, this makes sense--if you got a 690 in math, why not go for the extra 10 just to say that you scored in the 700s?  In practice, however, sometimes it can be very difficult for a student who's so close to actually get there when they retake the test.  Believe it or not, in many cases, it's much easier to help get a 100-point increase for a student who's just starting out than a 10-point increase for a student who has already done 6-8 weeks of hard core prep + the real SAT.  This is because most students peak after a certain point (yes, even though each test is different) and once they do, even an increase as small as 10 points can turn into a never-ending quest.  Ironically, the study found that, in the end, the extra 10 points don't really matter--students who scored 1390 (on the old SAT) were just as likely to be accepted by admissions officers as students who scored 1400.  Go figure?!  Check out the entire article here


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