After Campbell Taylor scored a 1470 on the SAT in March, the rising senior knew he was just 20 points shy of the score he needed to qualify for a top scholarship at Mississippi State University — his first-choice for college.
So the 17-year-old resolved to take the test again in June and spent the intervening months buried in SAT preparation books and working with tutors. Taylor awoke at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday and checked his latest score online. The results were disappointing: He received a 1400.
He missed one more question overall in June than in March but his score, he said, dropped precipitously. And in the math portion of the exam, he actually missed fewer questions but scored lower: Taylor said he got a 770 in March after missing five math questions but received a 720 in June after missing just three math questions.
Other high-achieving high school students faced the same conundrum when results of the June SAT were released earlier this week — their scores were lower than previous results, despite missing the same number of questions or even fewer. They’ve taken to Twitter and Reddit, arguing the scale used to score the June SAT was unfair and could jeopardize students’ scholarship or college admission prospects and may force many to pay another registration fee to retake the exam.
Taylor broadcast his gripe on Twitter, posting on Wednesday: “I, along with thousands of other high school students have been cheated out of a rightful SAT score given the College Board’s decision to harshly curve down the June 2018 SAT test. We deserve a true score and for our tests to be reconsidered under a FAIR scale.”
He closed with the hashtag: “rescoreJuneSAT.”
The College Board, which oversees the test, issued a statement addressing the furor: “We want to assure you that your scores are accurate. While we plan for consistency across administrations, on occasion there are some tests that can be easier or more difficult than usual.”
The company uses a statistical process called “equating” to try to ensure that a test taken one day can be compared to a test taken on another day. The number of questions a student correctly answers is matched to a scaled score, according to the College Board.
One wrong answer on a test given one day could equal two or three wrong answers on a more difficult version given another day, the company said.
But students argued the College Board should not have administered a test that varied so much in difficulty compared to other versions.
Marguerite Saunders, 17, said she answered 51 of 58 questions correctly on the math portion of the exam in March and received a 740. In June, she said she successfully answered 54 out of 58 questions and received a 700.
“It’s not the most accurate representation of my math ability and the whole reason people take the SAT is to have an accurate representation,” she said.
Saunders, a rising high school senior in the District, said she doesn’t disagree with the College Board’s use of equating but questioned “why they would release the test in the first place.”
Leslie Rives, a parent in Kennedale, Tex., said her son’s score dropped by 20 points in June — to 1390 — despite answering six more questions correctly than he did in March. Rives said her son, a rising senior, is now considering whether he’ll retake the test. He hoped that a higher score in June would boost his chances at more competitive schools, she said.
“It was so disheartening,” Rives said. “This one test could potentially just change this year of college admissions.”