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SAT now (2018) vs. then (1995-2004 and pre-January 1994)

dexysmidnightrunners23dexysmidnightrunners23 18 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
Hello, I am new on this forum. This may be more applicable for older folks on the site, although everyone is welcome to answer.

As you know, the SAT has gone through a lot of changes, with some saying that the test is much easier than it was in the past, and others saying that it isn't that much different, so long as you do not prepare. With the recent news of College Board using easy experimental tests from June and imposing harsh curves for the math and English sections, it makes me wonder how modern day test-takers would have fared on both the Scholastic Assessment Tests from 1995-2004 and the Scholastic Aptitude Tests from January 30, 1994 and before. My questions are:

1. What was the format of the tests from 1994 and before? Would it b expected that anyone today who doesn't prep and scores 1500 would score only a 1350 before 1994 due to the difficulty level? Can you give me such examples of specific questions of both easy medium, and extremely difficult questions from all three eras, and from both the English and Math sections? Doing so would give me an accurate comparison that corroborates the answer to this question.

2. Do the User Percentiles match up with IQ percentiles today, or are IQ percentiles higher? I've heard that SATs used to correlate highly with IQ tests but do not correlate nowadays. I think that if one does not prepare for the SAT, and IQ score can be approximate?

3. Do you think that the format changed not only because the test-taking population increased, but also because the standards in school curriculum changed as well?

I may have more questions as answers start pouring in.

Thanks,

~dexysmidnightrunners23
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Replies to: SAT now (2018) vs. then (1995-2004 and pre-January 1994)

  • LindagafLindagaf 9154 replies492 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    There have been various discussions about this. I suggest you search CC and the internet. I'm pretty sure there is someone called Red Baron (?) who has created lengthy articles on this topic.
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  • brantlybrantly 3923 replies69 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Is this for a research project? Or just curiosity?

    I took the SAT in the late 1970s. I graduated at the top of my class. My SAT score was 1180. That was considered decent. I think 1200 and and above was considered amazing. You have to remember that the tail did not wag the dog back then. What you got was what you got. I don't remember anyone *aiming* for a specific score.

    Fast forward 27 years . My daughter asked me to take the test—the iteration just before the current one—so I "can understand what she's going through." I agreed. Thought it would be fun. She timed me for each segment as per test rules. I only took the verbal section because there's no way I'd remember the math without review.

    So ... diving right in, without taking a practice test I got a 760. In the 1970s, 760 would be genius level. It was not nearly as common as it is now.
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  • dexysmidnightrunners23dexysmidnightrunners23 18 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    For the first question: no sites on the Internet contain questions from before 1994. I am also a minor, and as a result I am unable to by a pre book form the 1980's. For the next two questions that I asked, I feel that the other threads do not properly answer my questions. I'm also lazy. I-)

    Basically, I want specific answers to the question from actual board members.
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  • dexysmidnightrunners23dexysmidnightrunners23 18 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @brantly What was your verbal and math score in the 70's?
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  • evergreen5evergreen5 1460 replies31 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited November 2018
    There are dozens of news articles on the New SAT that debuted in 2016 that you can easily google. I suggest starting with wikipedia for an overview of the changes made in the past 25 yrs.

    There have been no studies on the New test and IQ. SAT stopped claiming to be an aptitude test years ago. Consider that the research touted by Coleman about Khan practice raising test scores 100+ points would cast some doubt on the predictive value of SAT scores regarding IQ.
    edited November 2018
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  • elodyCOHelodyCOH 385 replies23 threadsRegistered User Member
    I took it in 1979 and 1980, and seeing my son's practice tests on Khan academy I see that it's structured very differently now. I remember it being much more logic based, the verbal battery had a lot of word analogies that required you to both understand a lot of vocabulary, but also use logic to determine which words best fit into the analogies. The tests look much more straight forward now.

    I remember what my score was and the percentiles - I had a 670 in verbal, which was the 99th percentile (out of 800). Math was 660, which was around the 90th percentile.

    This chart compares the old scores with the current (and gives IQ comparison), though I doubt that standardized test scores truly reflect IQ.

    https://pumpkinperson.com/2015/09/24/converting-sat-score-to-iq/
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77783 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited November 2018
    April 1995 was the date that the scores were recentered. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED563025.pdf has conversion tables from earlier scores to later ones.

    Earlier SAT (or SAT I as sometimes called) had the following sections:

    * Verbal section was mostly a vocabulary test, with a few reading comprehension questions.
    * Math section was based on algebra and geometry, though there were some specific techniques that could help students with SAT math questions that were not that generally applicable to math in general.

    In 2004, a writing section, formerly an Achievement / SAT II / SAT Subject test was added as a third section to the SAT (called the SAT Reasoning at the time). At the time, some colleges found that the writing section was more predictive of college performance than the other two sections, but eventually test prep companies managed to reverse-engineer the scoring system to help test takers score much higher than their actual writing ability would otherwise indicate. Also, the writing section was not used by that many colleges, since most did not previously use any Achievement / SAT II / SAT Subject tests.

    In 2016, the SAT was redesigned. Score conversion tables can be found at https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/pdf/higher-ed-brief-sat-concordance.pdf .
    edited November 2018
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  • dexysmidnightrunners23dexysmidnightrunners23 18 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited November 2018
    @evergreen5 OK, I saw what the changes were (antonyms, analogies, quantitative comparison). What was the timing and format of the sections, though?

    In regards to the New SAT and IQ; I said that if one does not prepare for the test, we can estimate an approximate score. Someone who is scoring at the 99th percentile of a slightly above average test-taking population is likely to score above the 99th percentile on an IQ test.
    edited November 2018
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  • evergreen5evergreen5 1460 replies31 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I am probably not alone in having zero recollection of how long the sections were on a test I took, virtually unprepped, once or twice >30 yrs ago.

    Re: IQ, no, you really, truly cannot approximate an IQ percentile from a score on the New SAT. That is a very complex field. The old studies on IQ and the SAT are not applicable. Moving toward an achievement style test (vs aptitude) was a deliberate decision that goes back a long way, long before the Common Core angle turned up.
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  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying 6639 replies22 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Concordances were updated in June: https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/ACT-SAT-Concordance-Tables.pdf

    Standardized tests can't be repeated or else they are no longer relevant for purposes of measuring IQ. The genie was let out of the bottle years ago with the SAT as soon as everyone realized you could prep for this test and do much better. Still, that doesn't destroy altogether the ability to gauge some inherent IQ even from the current SAT (which is a much more straightforward test than it used to be).
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  • dexysmidnightrunners23dexysmidnightrunners23 18 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Then the lesson here is seemingly that it is useless to approximate an IQ based on correlations form any types of tests. As a result, it is better to consult a psychologist.
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  • JBSeattleJBSeattle 1051 replies14 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    From what I have read the pre 1995 SAT was more difficult and it seems like the average score now is about 70-80 points higher ie. a 1000 would be equivalent to 1070-1080 now.
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  • brantlybrantly 3923 replies69 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I had a 670 in verbal, which was the 99th percentile (out of 800). Math was 660, which was around the 90th percentile.

    Proving my point above that pretty much nobody got 700 or above.
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  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying 6639 replies22 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Tom Cruise in "Risky Business" got SAT scores that were "solid but not quite Ivy-League" IIRC. Math 597, Verbal 560. That was in 1983. Does a Hollywood script count as data?

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  • me29034me29034 1668 replies81 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I took the test in 1977 and only took it once with no prep. I have no idea what the format was. I got a 680 verbal and a 750 math for a total of 1430. Yeah, I was good at math, though I would hardly call myself a genius.
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  • dexysmidnightrunners23dexysmidnightrunners23 18 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @me29034 Genius is an outdated term from the Ratio IQ tests. Your 1430 is in the 99.9 percentile, so you would be considered highly gifted.
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  • marvin100marvin100 8558 replies1247 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I took it in 1988 and it was definitely harder--I'm well suited to judge, too, since I've been a full time SAT prep teacher since 2002. That said, I crushed it ;)
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  • marvin100marvin100 8558 replies1247 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Oh, and here's the 1995 recentering conversion chart. (For reference, there were only 25 perfect scores in 1994 but 137 in 1995):
    https://web.archive.org/web/20140901044547/http://research.collegeboard.org/programs/sat/data/equivalence/sat-individual

    From Wikipedia:
    The new scale used a reference group of about one million seniors in the class of 1990: the scale was designed so that the SAT scores of this cohort would have a mean of 500 and a standard deviation of 110. Because the new scale would not be directly comparable to the old scale, scores awarded on April 1995 and later were officially reported with an "R" (for example, "560R") to reflect the change in scale, a practice that was continued until 2001.[55] Scores awarded before April 1995 may be compared to those on the recentered scale by using official College Board tables. For example, verbal and math scores of 500 received before 1995 correspond to scores of 580 and 520, respectively, on the 1995 scale.[65]
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  • bludbulldogbludbulldog 19 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    In 1976, Yale's 75th percentile SAT scores were 720 verbal and 740 math (medians were 670 and 690, respectively.) . In 2016 (after the 1995 changes but before the most recent SAT changes), the 75th percentiles were 800 verbal and 800 math, which roughly equals 730 verbal and 780 math on the pre 1995 SAT. (Numbers come mostly from Yale's Office of Institutional Research data site.) Generally, the pre 1995 SAT scores were 60-70 points lower on the verbal and about 20 points lower on the math than the scores for the post 1995 test.

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  • dexysmidnightrunners23dexysmidnightrunners23 18 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @marvin100 Were the questions more vague back then? Was the Verbal Section before 1994 comparable to the Verbal Section post 1995? I've heard that the Verbal Section was a Vocabulary test, but the same could be said for all tests up to 2015. Were the words in the Verbal Section harder in 1994 than in 2015 (i.e. grandiloquence, recalcitrant)?
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