If you took the June SAT, you may have been caught off-guard on July 11th. The College Board released the June SAT scores and reports, and the data seemed to confirm the anecdotes many of us had been hearing: Many students answered more questions correctly than on any prior SAT they’d taken. The June SAT felt easier! But why, then, were their scores actually lower? Is it time to protest outside of the College Board? Will they rescore this exam? What happened?
What happened was that students across the country left the test center feeling good about the June exam, and that drove most scores down.
Each exam has its own unique scoring table based on how students performed on that particular day, and it seems that students everywhere thought they did very well on the June SAT (which demonstrates how we never really know how we did). So the College Board had to impose a very harsh curve to get the score distribution they needed. Missing a mere two math questions in June knocked a whopping fifty points off of your math score. Six math questions wrong brought you down to a 670 out of 800. Too many students performed too well on this exam, so every mistake hurt much more than usual.
This steep curve is not unprecedented. On the old version of the SAT, the math curve was this harsh for many years. However, the new version of the exam has not had a curve even remotely close to this since it was implemented two and a half years ago. Moreover, I have never seen a curve on an SAT exam so incredibly different from the SAT exam immediately before it (as I discuss here how consistent all of the exams have been up until this one).
I imagine someone at the College Board got in some serious hot water when these results came in, because this is not how they’re trying to have these exams go. But are these scores a mistake? Will they be corrected? No. As much as we would like to demand higher scores for our near- perfect tests, we need to understand that the curve is in fact fair. Because all students faced the same exam in June, with the same steep curve, no one was at a disadvantage on this test. The College Board will not be rescoring the June SAT.
If you’re still on the hunt for that great test score for your college applications, consider the June exam a good trial run, a confidence booster on your way to a future exam (after all, this odd June SAT does not accurately depict your abilities). Perhaps the September 8th ACT will be a better option. Or, if you prefer to stick with the SAT, the next one will be on October 6th. I’m willing to wager the curve will be back to normal by then.