To the Editor:
I’m writing in response to the College Bound blog post headlined “Weighing SAT and ACT Scores in College Admissions” (edweek.org, Sept. 25, 2012). British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli famously observed in the 19th century that there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. His pithy insight jumped to mind as I read the blog post and the latest press release from Kaplan Test Prep trying to gin up more demand for its test-preparation services with a poll about taking both the SAT and the ACT. For fun and perhaps for an exercise in understanding the obfuscation that twisting statistics can have, let’s use the numbers Kaplan cited in its press release—to which the blog post linked—and see what other conclusions we can draw.
1) Kaplan states that 18 percent of respondents agreed that there was at least some advantage in submitting scores from both the ACT and the SAT. Therefore, statistically, 82 percent of counselors did not agree that there was any advantage to submitting both act and sat scores. And, just for fun, 356 percent more counselors did not believe there was an advantage in submitting scores from both tests.
2) From Kaplan: “Eighteen percent of admissions officers said that a low sat or act score is ‘the biggest application killer.’ Topping that was a low high school GPA at 37 percent and low grades in college-prep courses at 28 percent.” Thus, more than double the number of counselors thought that a low GPA was the biggest “application killer” as opposed to a low ACT or SAT score, and 56 percent more thought low grades in college-prep courses was the biggest “application killer.” I’d also love to see what percentage of counselors have ever or would ever use the phrase “application killer” without prompting.
Oh, and I am 100 percent certain that Disraeli, in addition to other successes, became prime minister without taking either the ACT or the SAT.
A version of this article appeared in the October 10, 2012 edition of Education Week as Probing Kaplan’s Take on ACT, SAT Scores