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E-mail from Test Prep Company - please weigh in...is this true?

GossamerWingsGossamerWings 1246 replies313 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,559 Senior Member
Below is an excerpt from an email I received from a Test Prep company (blind e-mail...my address probably "farmed" from the school directory). Anyone care to weigh in on these last two points in the email? I'm especially leery about the first point they are trying to make, which seems self-serving. Thanks!


Most importantly . . . many students (and parents) think Score Choice gives them to opportunity just to go in and “see how I do.” It’s a free swing at the ball. There’s the huge problem with that idea. The primary method ETS uses to detect cheating on the SAT isn’t observation from their team of expert proctors. It’s not checking your ID at the door or looking for cheat sheets. ETS’s primary method for catching cheaters is to identity those students whose scores increase by “too much.” If you take the SAT twice and your second score is substantially higher than your first score, ETS assumes there was an ‘irregularity’ and will launch an investigation. How much is “too much”? Well, it depends on several factors, but broadly speaking a 300+ point improvement in math and verbal will typically trigger an investigation. That sounds like a lot, but Andover’s average improvement is 340 points (math/verbal/writing), so it’s not that unusual. The kids who typically get caught up in ETS’s snare are those who take their first SAT without prep, “just to see” what they will score. So know what you’ll score before taking the real SAT, and if you’re really not comfortable with your score, prep first.



Do colleges average SAT scores?

Ugh. A pernicious myth. Some parents report hearing this from colleges and many have told me that Princeton Review is saying this in their sales sessions. The answer is NO. Colleges do not average all your SAT scores. Only your best scores count. Really.
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Replies to: E-mail from Test Prep Company - please weigh in...is this true?

  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 37357 replies2040 discussionsSuper Moderator Posts: 39,397 Super Moderator
    My son's score went up 320 points and nobody questioned it.
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 26529 replies172 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 26,701 Senior Member
    edited June 2014
    Anyone care to weigh in on these last two points in the email? I'm especially leery about the first point they are trying to make, which seems self-serving.

    I only see one point...

    But yes, I do know of someone who spent all summer with a private tutor in an attempt to get admitted to 'dream' school. SAT scores rocketed up. ETS flagged it and refused to report the results.

    This kid was pure as the driven snow, so I have not one iota of any cheating on his part. Plus, he had a half a dozen prep tests all scoring in a similar range.

    Beyond that, taking a test when one is not 'ready' is stupid: it's a waste of time and money. Just that simple.
    edited June 2014
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  • thumper1thumper1 73022 replies3179 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 76,201 Senior Member
    My son's score also went up 300 points (and this was CR and Math only). No one said a peep!
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  • MizzBeeMizzBee 4518 replies60 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,578 Senior Member
    Maybe if it happened in one month they might do a check, but DS went up significantly in 6 and there was never a question.
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  • calmomcalmom 20393 replies166 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 20,559 Senior Member
    Actually, the best course of action is to do a modest amount of self-prep for the first SAT on your own. It's fine to take the exam just to see where you stand, but no reason to go in absolutely cold.

    You should have a reasonable idea of how you will do from your own testing history. That is, you probably have a general idea as to whether you tend to test well and whether you need a lot of help in specific areas. A 300 point increase spread across 3 tests (example: 1850 to 2150) would not be particularly unusual -- on a single test (example: 450 math to 750 math) -- it would probably raise some eyebrows. I think that the ETS probably looks at many factors as to which exams its flags for review.
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 37357 replies2040 discussionsSuper Moderator Posts: 39,397 Super Moderator
    My son took a prep class before his first sitting. He didn't do well, so he started taking lots of online tests on the College Board site, and that made all the difference.
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  • VladenschlutteVladenschlutte 4292 replies37 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,329 Senior Member
    I'm unsure of what they can do if there was no cheating that happened. Are they going to throw it out just at the suspect of cheating? There's no issue with them investigating if nothing untoward happened.
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  • Youdon'tsayYoudon'tsay 19078 replies454 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 19,532 Senior Member
    I don't personally know anyone whose scores were flagged.

    The one thing I kind of agree with is the idea of not taking a real SAT or ACT "just to see." Why have a potentially bad score on your record when there were all kinds of ways to take free, off-the-record tests -- books, online, prep companies looking to sell you their goods?
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  • xiggixiggi 24569 replies872 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 25,441 Senior Member
    TCB does flag, investigates, AND cancels scores. Brandon Jennings' second attempt to pass the NCAA minimum requirement was flagged and he had to retake the test. He did not wait and bolted to Italy. Well, Rome and one million bucks might beat a year at ASU for a NBA purgatory.

    The point here is that TCB did not allege cheating but did set the scores aside. Most people will not challenge the decision and go the retake route. A route that should not be that hard for a prepared student. If "divine intervention" was part of the better score, the route might be more uphill.
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 26529 replies172 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 26,701 Senior Member
    edited June 2014
    I'm unsure of what they can do if there was no cheating that happened. Are they going to throw it out just at the suspect of cheating?

    That is exactly what they do. They send out a letter suggesting possible testing irregularities based on statistical analysis. They withhold those scores, and offer a free retake. (It's all part of the fine print when you register.)
    edited June 2014
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  • Much2learnMuch2learn 4607 replies167 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,774 Senior Member
    So, if you took the test and the score is flagged because it is much improved, if you retake and your score is consistent with the prior score, does the prior score get counted?
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76099 replies663 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 76,762 Senior Member
    The possibility of scores being delayed by accusations of cheating is a reason to take the test sooner than the last possible date, though.
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  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 32858 replies3603 discussionsSuper Moderator Posts: 36,461 Super Moderator
    @Much2learn‌ yes the prior score counts. The other reason a student would want to retake the test sooner is so the material is still fresh.
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  • gouf78gouf78 7737 replies23 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,760 Senior Member
    There are some schools that average SAT scores versus super scoring them. I don't know about the rest.
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  • thumper1thumper1 73022 replies3179 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 76,201 Senior Member
    Gouf...what schools average the SAT scores?
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