New SAT scores are out; here’s what you need to know:

Matt Larriva
May 31, 2016
Home » Blog » New SAT scores are out; here’s what you need to know:

More than two months after the March test-takers sat for the New SAT, the CollegeBoard finally delivered the New SAT score reports. The results were odd and left counselors, admissions officers, and parents nonplussed.

The most striking change was the score recalibration.

It was well-publicized that the New SAT scores were going from a 2400 scale to a 1600 scale, but what the CollegeBoard did not foretell was how the bell curve was going to skew upward. That is, if you took a student who scored 500 on all sections on the old SAT (1500 total), you might assume his score would translate to a 1000 on the New SAT  (1500*2/3). This is not the case.  The New SAT has an inherent score-bump to the tune of about 80 points.

  • A new 1200 corresponds to an old 1130.
  • A new 1300 corresponds to an old 1230.
  • A new 1400 corresponds to an old 1340.
  • A new 1500 corresponds to an old 1460.
  • However, new 1600 is still corresponds to an old 1600.

Here are the implications:

  1. Confusion: admissions officers don’t quite know how to digest these New SAT Scores, specifically, how they should scale these scores to their old ones. If Harvard’s 25th percentile acceptance score used to be a 2270, what is it now? If you were guaranteed admissions based on athletics, as long as you could achieve a 1600 on the old SAT, what do you need to score now? Anecdotally, we’ve heard multiple instances of the above circumstances delaying admissions decisions. This is in line with what we predicted in October of 2015 when we cautioned test-takers to avoid the New SAT. To add to the vagueness, there is currently no mutually endorsed concordance table available. The CollegeBoard and The ACT (The administers of the ACT test) had previously published concordance tables—guides which told you what an SAT score translated to in terms of ACT scores. The CollegeBoard recentlytried to publish new concordance scores, but the ACT rebuffed the attempt saying the two tests are, at this point, incomparable.
  2. A mild score-bump for those who brave the New Test. We predicted, in our guest article with Magoosh, that students would experience a bump in scores relative to later-year test-takers. You can read the full article here. We did not predict a re-scaling, but we did estimate that history would repeat itself, and that students who took the New SAT early, might experience a score bump relative to later-year test-takers. This seems to be manifest partially because the trend of declining SAT scores continues, and partially because admissions officers have no good concordance table to use, so may be inclined to cognitive bias, and “round up.”

In summary: stay with the ACT if you are in doubt. It has the advantages of clarity and consistency. However, if you’d like to take advantage of the uncertainty, try the SAT which has an inherent score-bump and unstable concordance tables that might yet turn out favorably for the first-movers.
Whatever your choice, contact the experts at Powerful Prep to guide you to your highest scores possible.