Monday, December 7, 2009

When In Doubt, Lower The Standards

When In Doubt, Lower The Standards

Mensa accepts SAT scores above a certain level as meeting their intelligence test score requirements. Before 9/30/74, a combined verbal and math score above 1300; from 9/30/74 to 1/31/94, 1250. After 1/31/94: not acceptable. Strictly speaking, the SAT was not an intelligence test. In practice, there was such a strong correlation between high SAT scores and being two standard deviations above the norm in intelligence that Mensa regarded SAT scores as an adequate proxy. So why did they stop using SAT scores after 1/31/94?
These tests no longer correlate with an IQ test. Note that the acceptance date applies to the date you took the test, not the date you join Mensa. You can still join Mensa by using older scores.
I recently had occasion to talk to someone who runs an SAT/ACT tutorial center. She explained that the SAT Verbal test no longer uses analogies. You remember those analogies, like this example:


(A) cable : bridge

(B) cast : injury

(C) fort : army

(D) dam : river

(E) pacemaker : heart

Anyway, I notice that the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is also abandoning analogy questions. From the December 7, 2009 Inside Higher Education:

Some of the key differences ETS plans for the new GRE are the following:

  • Test takers using the computer version of the test (who represent the vast majority of test takers in the United States and Western nations) will be able to move around among questions within sections, skipping a question and coming back later or revising an answer before finishing a section. In the current version, a test taker must give a final answer to a question before getting the next question. This is a shift that was not planned in the aborted 2007 launch and is likely to be popular with test takers.
  • The scoring system for the verbal and quantitative sections of the test will be revised to be on scales of 130-170, with score increments of one point. This replaces scales of 200-800, with score increments of 10 points. (The writing test's 1-6 scale will not change.)
  • The section of antonyms and analogies in the verbal section will be removed, with more reading comprehension added.
  • ...
  • A calculator will be provided so that mathematics answers will be based on test-takers' comprehension of concepts and not their speed at basic calculations.

Why is it so important to keep lowering the standards? I fear that yesterday's post about Idiocracy is already coming true.

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