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SSAT scores ...

CenterCenter Registered User Posts: 1,457 Senior Member
I am fascinated by the dissent about the value of the SSAT as well as curious about the scores of applicants verses admitted students. If you look at data available it seems that if the average SSAT at say Andover is 94 (as I recall). That means the range is pretty big. I would love to know: if the SSAT scores were higher in FA verses full pay; lower or higher in minority students; lower or higher in legacies and so on. I guess it seems like between kids we know and what I hear on this site it's pretty common to have a high score. Does a 99 mean anything more than a 90? Keeping in mind that people that are taking the SSAT are a pretty high achieving and relatively motivated group by definition. Much narrower than the SAT.
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Replies to: SSAT scores ...

  • DonFefeDonFefe Registered User Posts: 95 Junior Member
    Putting aside my personal concerns about the inherent fairness of this test, I think we'd all like the answers to those questions. I've seen spread sheet comparisons of scores in earlier posts, and there is one issue that potentially invalidates much if not all of the analysis: the schools self-report their scores, and there is no way to validate them. Essentially, a school can report any average score it wants.

    A cursory look at scores from BoardingSchoolReview suggests the problem: an unusual number of schools clumped together at certain break points. Once again, the admissions process remains largely opaque, and I'm convinced the schools like it that way. Why wouldn't they?
  • CenterCenter Registered User Posts: 1,457 Senior Member
    edited January 2016
    Righto.....:). I doubt that they lie. I really do. Why? Because someone would leak it and it would be humiliating for the schools. (Maybe I am naive). I think what they are trying to hide is exactly what I am asking:The breakouts of the scores among various sub groups of applicants. I will just say it....I bet that IN GENERAL BUT NOT ALWAYS, Asian populations are the highest scorers, legacies and athletes are on the lower end as well as FA minorities.
  • CenterCenter Registered User Posts: 1,457 Senior Member
    Goat mama: I totally agree with you.
  • GoatMamaGoatMama Registered User Posts: 768 Member
    And I totally agree with @Albion :)
  • CenterCenter Registered User Posts: 1,457 Senior Member
    I don't agree with Albion. She/He is just giving us platitudes. If scores are different for different populations then it means an applicants chances are markedly lower than that inferred from the public data. These schools want as many applicants as possible to inflate their numbers and give a very small admit rate. However, the numbers if they are as I suspect, are misleading as they encourage applicants who have almost no chance because they cannot compete with special populations. I agree that it's better to have artists and jocks and legacies etc .....but I think applications would be much much lower if people knew the real data.
  • DonFefeDonFefe Registered User Posts: 95 Junior Member
    Bravo, GoatMama. Very eloquently put.

    As to whether schools fudge their average SSAT scores: it's merely a suspicion--albeit a strong one--based entirely on circumstantial evidence. I note that there are a number of schools that report 65 as an average, and another bunch at 70. And, funny thing, these scores tend to stay the same over several years. Indeed, Fefechild 1's school reported the same average score for at least five years (which just happened to be the exact same score as its nearest--both geographically and niche-wise--competitor, which also published the same exact average for five years). Yet how can that be possible?

    I suspect that for some schools, the figure for average SSAT is chosen for marketing reasons. The school has a sense of it's prospective clientele, and picks a figure that it hopes will maximize it's applicant pool. If that figure is too low, the school may appear insufficiently rigorous, and some applicants will be dissuaded from applying; if it's too high, some potential applicants are apt to feel intimidated, or assume that they won't be admitted, and be dissuaded from applying. But, honestly, I'm only speculating. And I suspect that the ultimate value of such a market-driven approach would vary from school to school.

    And would it leak out that a school was shading its scores by five or ten points? Maybe, maybe not. There seems to be some room for plausible deniability--if outed, the school could say, for example, "our average SSAT is based on a ten-year average, with scores varying from year to year." If only a former admissions person would weigh in on that question.

    I feel that average score reports aren't as valuable as the 25%-75% range reports--assuming, once again, that the school reports honestly. Such a range would at least suggest an answer to the sort of questions posed by Center in the original post.
  • CenterCenter Registered User Posts: 1,457 Senior Member
    Well said donfefe. I don't disagree.
  • gungabluegungablue Registered User Posts: 73 Junior Member
    I found this thread interesting about how many 99% scores there are in a given year.

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/prep-school-admissions/1054157-overall-99th-percentiles-p1.html

    If accurate, it is not the case that top schools could fill their classes with 99% SSAT scores as there are probably 300 or so per year. I agree that it doesn't matter whether a kid is 99 or 94% and so there are a lot of kids in the 94% + range. But still, clearly not enough to fill many top schools just with those kids. There are only a few schools who claim an average of 90+ and I don't think that's because they are rejecting 1000s of 99% applicants because there aren't that many. Of course scoring at 99% isn't a guarantee of admission to every school, but it certainly helps and many of those 99% kids are also great athletes and great performers and great contributors in non-academic ways and thus appealing not just based on the test score. If a school claims an average of 94%, then they are taking a lot of 99% kids to offset those below 94%. You can't get an average of 85% or 94% without taking a huge % of very high scoring kids.

    I couldn't agree more that schools benefit from all kinds of diversity to make a class more interesting. I also think much of the "other" stuff at boarding school comes from kids who have enough energy and time left over after academics to contribute. From what I've seen, a number of those kids are extremely talented academically so they can handle the workload and also do ECs 30 hours a week.
  • MAandMEmomMAandMEmom Registered User Posts: 857 Member
    Do you think the reported scores are from superscoring? How would they even arrive at a percentage because of weighting?
  • CenterCenter Registered User Posts: 1,457 Senior Member
    Thanks for that link gungablue. Very interesting. And as for repeat test takers, that too raises interesting questions., I am personally interested in this because my kid did very well on the test. I am wondering if it will help or he is one of a million.....
  • payn4wardpayn4ward Registered User Posts: 2,792 Senior Member
    edited January 2016
    Since SSAT says (from that thread) about 60,000 students take the tests annually, and the score report says they compare scores against past three years scores, there would be 1,800 99%ile scorers. So top 40 schools can be theoretically filled up with students with 96+% SSAT but they don't.

    The wisdom over here is that 99% means that the SSAT score will not be the reason for a rejection. SevenDaugher1 was rejected with 99% from Choate. So yes one can still get a rejection.

    I would imagine a 99% gets more attention at 60-70% SSAT average schools than at 90% average schools (where 95+% is a dime a dozen among applicants) especially when FA is needed.

    I assume there would be different average trends among different SES and ethnic groups similarly with SAT score trends with respect to household income. I don't know what we would gain from that informaiton. It is what it is.

  • panpacificpanpacific Registered User Posts: 1,300 Senior Member
    At the risk of being non-PC, we actually have some sense on where different "categories" of admitted students fall relative to a highly selective school's reported SSAT average. URMs (mainly Asian) which now constitute about 30% of the student body are boosters of the average. Most of the legacy kids, incidentally not much overlapping with the URM, often times have stronger academic crdentials including higher than average test scores. Then for the white kids from the "vast NE mass" that don't have hooks, high test scores could only help... Note that I am taking about trends but not implying EVERY Kid that falls in/out of a category would have a high/low score. Then, do the schools lie when they report a 90%+ average? I don't think so. Looking at the school's constitutes, you will not.
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