New data shows studying for the SAT for 20 hours on free Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy is associated with an average score gain of 115 points, nearly double the average score gain compared to students who don’t use Khan Academy. Out of nearly 250,000 test-takers studied, more than 16,000 gained 200 points or more between the PSAT/NMSQT and SAT …In addition to the 115-point average score increase associated with 20 hours of practice, shorter practice periods also correlate with meaningful score gains. For example, 6 to 8 hours of practice on Official SAT Practice is associated with an average 90-point increase.“The SAT is a strong measure of college readiness. It is heartening to see this positive association between personalized practice on Khan Academy and growth in college readiness,” said Khan Academy founder and chief executive Sal Khan. “This was only possible because of the hard work of many people, especially incredible teachers, counselors and school districts who have leveraged these practice tools for their students.”
The new SAT is a different test. It is an achievement test that measures what students are already learning in high school and what they need to know to succeed in college and career. With the new SAT there is no penalty for guessing. Students no longer lose points for wrong answers. Gone are “SAT words”— words no one has seen before or will likely see again. Only relevant math concepts are tested. The SAT makes it easier for students to show their best work.Too much of commercial test prep teaches to the test — looking for shortcuts and tricks to “beat” the test. The SAT in its old format lent itself to this approach. The College Board and Khan Academy firmly believe in practice, and particularly practice that is personalized to pinpoint areas where learners need additional help. Preparing for the new SAT is the same as preparing for college.The results we released this week show that these free resources advanced students regardless of gender, race, income, and high school GPA. Our partnership with Khan Academy is leveling the playing field and is delivering opportunities for all students. We would encourage you and your readers to listen to the stories of students like D’Andre and Diana from Oak Ridge, Fla. We would hope even our most strident critics would celebrate what these and other students have accomplished after devoting themselves to productive practice on Khan Academy.
Coaching companies’ current estimates of the benefits of coaching for the SAT are much too high. Coached students are only slightly more likely to have large score gains than uncoached students. In addition, about 1/3 of students experience no score gain or score loss following coaching.
The typical gain associated with coaching is 8 points for verbal and 18 points for math. Coaching seems to result in about one more verbal question correct for 25 to 30 hours of effort and one more math question correct for 8 or more hours of effort.
The College Board’s admission that SAT coaching can boost scores significantly once again demonstrates the hypocrisy of the testing industry. After six decades of aggressively claiming that SAT prep courses do not have a major impact, the College Board has suddenly reversed its position. Of course, the program they now assert can make a big difference is the only one the College Board partners with. Not surprisingly, they did not study the offerings from any test-prep firm, many of which advertise even larger score gains.Given the latest news, how should a conscientious admissions office value any particular test result — was that 650 Math score, for example, posted by an applicant who took the SAT “cold,” or after using Khan Academy (or one of the other free websites that also offers test-prep courses)? Or was it the result of a $1,000 Kaplan/Princeton Review/Compass Prep/etc. intensive course, a $2,500 personalized tutoring program or intervention by the self-styled New York City SAT “guru” who charges $1,500/hour for his services?