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MIT's SAT Math Error

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the maybe-they-should-get-a-college-graduate-to-check-it dept.

Education 280

theodp writes "The Wall Street Journal reports that for years now, MIT wasn't properly calculating the average freshmen SAT scores (reg.) used to determine U.S. News & World Report's influential annual rankings. In response to an inquiry made by The Tech regarding the school's recent drop in the rankings, MIT revealed that in past years it had excluded the test scores of foreign students as well as those who fared better on the ACT than the SAT, both violations of the U.S. News rules. MIT's reported first-quartile SAT verbal and math scores for the 2006 incoming class totaled 1380, a drop of 50 points from 2005."

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If I could do it all over again... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20724697)

I would have never gone to college. My degree is useless and I'm in lots of debt thanks to school loans.

Re:If I could do it all over again... (5, Funny)

renegadesx (977007) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724717)

I pitty the fool... stay in school

Re:If I could do it all over again... (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724873)

flamebait? .... for a Mr.T impression? C'mon..

Bad spelling, on the other hand....

Re:If I could do it all over again... (3, Funny)

Lightlord (1030204) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725351)

I pitty the fool... stay in school
Dont be a fool......stay in school Fixed that for you!

Re:If I could do it all over again... (-1, Flamebait)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724799)

You probably majored in Business or Marketing or Music or something like that, didn't you? Maybe you should have studied something real. I doubt a chemistry or a nuclear physics degree would be useless.

Re:If I could do it all over again... (1, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724903)

It sounds like you don't have a chemistry or nuclear physics degree. College degrees are a way to get in the door at jobs that require one. Basically it's the way employers protect against hiring slackers (since fewer college grads are slackers, though some are). Hard science degrees are not worth an appreciable amount more than english degrees, though they are harder to get. Passion is the only reason you should get a hard degree (like science or engineering), because you're not going to be making a lot more money out of college*.

* your mileage may vary, some technical degrees are worth more than liberal arts degrees (particularly EE, ME and specialty engineering degrees like computer engineering), these degrees are probably not worth the extra effort if you are interested in money alone, but are good idea for someone with passion.

Re:If I could do it all over again... (2, Informative)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725069)

It sounds like you don't have a chemistry or nuclear physics degree.
That's true. I'm currently in my second year studying chemistry. I didn't necessarily mean the degrees wouldn't be useless professionally; I'm very aware that the world is not a meritocracy. I do think that a good education is its own reward, and you have to study a real subject in the arts/sciences for one of those.

By the way, I had been under the impression that engineering degrees were generally for people who wanted to make money (in a normal-ish job) after graduation, while sciences were for people who either wanted to be, or accepted the risk of being in academia for life. Is that not the case?

Re:If I could do it all over again... (4, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725335)

"I had been under the impression that engineering degrees were generally for people who wanted to make money (in a normal-ish job) after graduation, while sciences were for people who either wanted to be, or accepted the risk of being in academia for life. Is that not the case?"

I think that anyone who wants an engineering degree for the money will be disappointed. I have a degree in chemical engineering, and I make $55,000 (that is with 10 months of experience). That sounds like a lot for being just out of school, but given the extra effort of obtaining the degree, and the amount of work that is expected from me at my job, I don't think it's a better deal than a liberal arts degree would've been. I think that the value of any degree is what you do with it. If you work to gain valuable experience, advocate yourself, and work well with others, you can make a 6 figure income with any degree.

I am in the field because I am passionate about making peoples lives better, and I feel like engineering accomplishes that. I don't want to work forever in academia, because I feel like all the mindless bureaucracy and politics of the university makes enriching the lives of others nearly impossible. Of course, if I did want to work forever in academics, I could still do that with an engineering degree.

Re:If I could do it all over again... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20724933)

I'm not the OP but will answer... I've sat in front of a computer every day of my life, since my parents got us a Coco-I for Christmas.. I still remember the day I came home and found that my father had upgraded it to a whopping 16k using the piggyback method. I did the BBS thing and was on teh intarweb thingie long before the "web" part. In high school I used to program in x86 assembly language on my "True Blue" IBM 8086 PC for fun. I graduated and slaved for a number of years in a _miserable_ third shift job... loosing what little social life I had as a geek.

After which I finally had enough money to pay for school at a technical college. (being a single white male means society gives me nothing in the way of grants or other support) While at college, all of the other students would turn to me for help.. because I always had a firm grasp of the subject matter. My academic counselor/primary programming instructor even said one time that every time he always looked to me in class to make sure he wasn't making a mistake in the material.

I graduated... wrote up my resume.. and applied for job after job after job. I even managed to get an interview or two over time. I did this for two years but never managed to land a position in the computer field. Years of discouragement finally took its toll and I gave up on that hope. I don't regret all of the time and money and effort I put in to my college education.. I feel that if nothing else I can chalk it up as "personal enrichment"... but professionally it was a big waste.

I would have done better using the money to buy lottery tickets.

Re:If I could do it all over again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20724955)

Perhaps a shower.?.?

Re:If I could do it all over again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20725203)

Your assumptions are sad.

Re:If I could do it all over again... (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725085)

1) Pay someone else to write your resume
2) Submit to professional recruiting agencies
3) Work on your presentation and appearance
4) ????
5) Profit!

Re:If I could do it all over again... (5, Insightful)

icedcool (446975) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725355)

Let me fix that for you... 1) Work 2) Profit! There you go.

Re:If I could do it all over again... (1)

martinX (672498) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725405)

Jokes about "those who can, do. Those who can't, teach" aside, have you considered teaching something in your field of expertise?

Even given equal talents, some of us are going to work for others, some are going to teach others and some of us will be business makers. For every Jobs, there's a Woz :-)

Re:If I could do it all over again... (1)

Rod Beauvex (832040) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724997)

Well, if you live in America, and don't work for the Department of Defense, then yes, those degrees are useless, seeing as how we don't innmovote, invent, or do R&D anymore.

Almost all bad examples. (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725111)

I doubt a chemistry or a nuclear physics degree would be useless.

You didn't go to a school with a nuclear engineering or nuclear physics department, did you? I did (Georgia Tech), and the job market for those skills is ridiculously tight according to what I heard. Try to think of jobs for that degree. Think real hard, and you'll probably come up with a list of tightly regulated industries that aren't seeing much expansion or much in the way of fundamental research.

As for a chemistry degree, you're looking at poor job prospects unless you go on to grad school or at the very least do a lot of undergraduate research. I know from experience. When I was a chemistry major my freshman year, and I was seeking a job to help pay through school, the market for those jobs was super tight as well. That was a small part of what convinced me to switch to computer science. (The larger part was my clumsiness in the lab.)

You can get a well-paying job in Marketing or Business right out of undergrad as long as you don't screw around and manage to get low grades in super easy classes. Music can be tough unless you've got boatloads of talent, but I'd hardly expect someone who's regretting college to have majored in something as marketable as Marketing or Business.

Now, English or Philosophy or History might land you in no-job-land, but your examples are all really bad for showing degrees that are or aren't "useless."

Re:Almost all bad examples. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20725407)

As someone who actually has a bachelors chemistry degree, and has been using it for 15 years, I can report that your impression of the job market from a freshman's perspective was off. There are a fairly large number of jobs available for chemistry majors, including all sorts of entry level positions in quality and testing positions for pharmaceuticals, biotech, or environmental labs that don't require much beyond the degree.

We've got constant complaints about respect, salary level, and advancement opportunities, but the degree (and some good luck) has not only kept me working in secure jobs for a while, but also always kept me confident I could find something else quickly if I needed to.

Where I think people get misled is in what way the degree helps you. Someone who's highly motivated, interviews well, shows passion and is ambitious will probably do better outside chemistry with just a bachelor's--advancement within a chemistry job without a Ph.D. can be tricky no matter how smart you are. But you'll have job security and opportunities the average English major can only dream of.

Re:If I could do it all over again... (1)

renegadesx (977007) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725415)

A philosaphy degree would be useless. But it would still be heaps of fun

Nerd out

Re:If I could do it all over again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20724887)

I'm not sure why this is getting modded down. People seriously need to stop and consider whether getting a degree in a major like philosophy or English is worthwhile if you're going to incur $100,000 in student loans doing so. I'm not saying you're not going to get anything out of out, but what is the real likelihood of being able to find a job that allows you to pay that kind of debt off.

Re:If I could do it all over again... (4, Informative)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725259)

Well, English and philosophy are two of the recommended undergrad degrees taken in conjunction with pre-law to gain entry into law schools. So the Bachelor's degree by itself may not be spectacular, but it can set one apart from all those political science majors. History might also be a good choice. See University of Missouri St. Louis Political Science department's information on studying Law for just one program that mentions English and philosophy both as options.

Also, consider that many state government positions have a prerequisite of any Bachelor's degree from any accredited college. In Illinois, for example, many decent jobs with good benefits can plausibly be had with a degree in Liberal Arts or Medieval Literature, although you might be up against candidates who might have studied something more directly relevant. For some fields within the Illinois state government, the degree requirement can be waived for experience.

The editor of Forbes would agree... (3, Insightful)

MacDork (560499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725073)

Ahh, parent poster is a Troll, eh? Forbes publisher Rich Karlgaard [forbes.com] would probably agree with AC. Is he a troll too? I saw far too many kids there for the party myself... the 'life experience' they called it. We even have online encyclopedias citing which schools paaar-tay [msn.com] the hardest. I'm sure that image doesn't hurt enrollment numbers and the government money flowing into universities. I wouldn't be surprised if universities quietly encourage that 'rep' via PR firms. College is big business. So big in fact that university finances have begun drawing the scrutiny of congress. [bloomberg.com] We've even begun exporting American-style higher education. [bbc.co.uk] It may not be the best in the world, but it sure makes a shitload of money.

In the meantime, there's a lot of kids leaving college with a worthless degree [moneycrashers.com] and lots of debt. The university was enriched by the process, but you can't say that for all their graduates. I'll bet if the OP had mentioned something about outsourcing [cbsnews.com] the post would be +5 Insightful.

Worked for Esther Dyson (4, Insightful)

rs79 (71822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725173)

" I saw far too many kids there for the party myself "

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m4422/is_n6_v15/ai_20860361 [findarticles.com]

"Her dad once chastised her for wasting his tuition money by not going to her classes. With typical Esther aplomb, she countered, "Daddy, you don't understand. You don't come to Harvard to study. You come to Harvard to get to know the right people."

Re:Worked for Esther Dyson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20725217)

Daddy, you don't understand. You don't come to Harvard to study. You come to Harvard to get to know the right people.

I have not one, but two cousins that went to Harvard. They must have studied, because they've never amounted to anything. Last I heard, one was a bouncer at a lesbian bar (Like nobody saw that coming, she was the QB in high school) and the other followed the Grateful Dead for a while before settling into some meaningless job she could have gotten with a GED.

Re:The editor of Forbes would agree... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20725201)

That is silly; I can find mainstream pundits that agree with pretty much any side of a debate. I agree with the OP moderation: first, this whole thread has little to do with the article (calculation of school ranking error) or even marginally relevant (are school rankings relevant). Instead, the first post takes the deliberately polarizing and wide-encompassing claim "college is not worth it" in a single line, obviously with the intent to garner a lot of replies.

Did the OP add anything to a conversation? Is a unilateral claim such as this insightful? Informative? Ask yourself this seriously. It is off topic, and just a way to get the predictable responses (I did well in school and have a sucky job... I didn't go to college and make millions...) A serious post would at least have some text, or make a well-reasoned claim to *something*. Some of the replies in the thread are actually insightful, and have been moderated accordingly.

The original post is pretty much the definition of a troll, and judging by the number and type of replies, a successful one.

Re:The editor of Forbes would agree... (1)

MacDork (560499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725385)

You're probably right; I'll be the first to admit I'm sympathetic with OPs plight, but the article is about "a barometer of college quality." From an investment viewpoint, what better barometer is there than your post-college salary? You know, I've never seen hard numbers or analysis on post-college salaries that wasn't compiled by a college. This story seems to make it pretty obvious that even the best colleges might be a little "flawed" in their analysis of such metrics when it regards their own performance... In a "False advertising to swindle unsuspecting high school grads" sense, IMHO OP was relevant :)

Perhaps they should offer a Quality Assurance majr (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724703)

and a minor in dupe detection ;-)

Re:Perhaps they should offer a Quality Assurance m (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725299)

I really don't understand why it's called an error when it would most likely have to be deliberate to do that.

1220 in 1989 (5, Informative)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724709)

You can't compare any scores because it's all been rebased to be meaningless.

Back then, a 1400 really meant something, and a "perfect" score was a one or two person thing.

Re:1220 in 1989 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20724723)

13802003. You lazy bastards.

Re:1220 in 1989 (0, Troll)

IdolizingStewie (878683) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725241)

You really wanna play that game? I got a 1380 in 1998... in 7th grade. I got a 1600 when I took it for real. I'm sure somebody on here can trump me, too. I missed 3 questions.

Re:1220 in 1989 (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20724727)

Back then, a 1400 really meant something, and a "perfect" score was a one or two person thing.

What it really meant was they were sitting at the same table!

Paultards, please read! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20725349)

Sure, he opposes the war, but how much do you really know about Ron Paul's views?
  • Opposes federal funding for stem cell research
  • Pro-tax cuts, nearly all of which go to the rich
  • Anti-U.N.
  • Favors cutting gas taxes (go figure)
  • Against corporate accountability
  • Glorifies Ronald Reagan
  • Supports corporate efforts to ship US jobs to China
  • Attacks gun control and D.C. self-rule
  • Anti-union
  • Opposes hate crime legislation
  • Supports "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
  • Opposes allowing same-sex partners to adopt
  • Voted to allow bigoted Alabama judge to post Ten Commandments in courtroom
  • Co-sponsored Constitutional amendment pushing coerced prayer in public schools
  • Opposes restoring the Pledge of Allegiance to the version without "Under God"
  • And so on and so forth.
Oh, and if you're genuinely right-wingnut or wacko libertarian and actually admire Ron Paul for all the above—then you're a fucking idiot anyway, and no amount of truth will help set you straight. This message is aimed more at fellow travelers who for some reason imagine Ron Paul to be their savior. He's not, you internet dweebs.

Re:1220 in 1989 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20724771)

I scored a 1390 in the early nineties when I took the SAT (this was before I dropped out of the 9th grade). If I can score a near-perfect score, the test has to be completely bogus.

Re:1220 in 1989 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20724831)

I scored a 1390 in the early nineties when I took the SAT (this was before I dropped out of the 9th grade). If I can score a near-perfect score

You do realize that it's out of 1600, right? While a 1390 is a good score, it certainly isn't near-perfect.

Re:1220 in 1989 (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724897)

Cost-of-living adjustments, apparently.

Re:1220 in 1989 (1)

jbreckman (917963) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724773)

I was under the impression that SAT scores were normalized, so the distribution was the same between years. Am I wrong? Anyone have any sources?

Re:1220 in 1989 (5, Informative)

JoelKatz (46478) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724825)

That's correct, the scores are normalized so that the distributions are the same. This means you *can't* compare scores across years. If you did, you would find that, amazingly, the distributions were the same. But have the students stayed the same? Nope. Have the questions stayed the same? No again.

If you google around, you'll see articles about how "national SAT scores fell for the second year in a row" or some nonsense like that. There are ways you can sensibly compare SAT scores across years, but you cannot compare averages over a significant fraction of the testing pool.

Re:1220 in 1989 (2, Interesting)

nitroamos (261075) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725401)

Well, I'm sure the normalization is at the national level, so there is meaning for some level of locality to say that it's scores have dropped.

Re:1220 in 1989 (4, Informative)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725251)

I was under the impression that SAT scores were normalized, so the distribution was the same between years. Am I wrong? Anyone have any sources?


Yes and no, one problem is that now they normalize the test TOO often, due to the fact that students weren't scoring well (average SAT score fell to about 930-950 or so by the early 1990s). They added essays and some other stuff which arguably added more subjectivity to the grading, and they did a BIG recalibration in 1994 that basically gave everyone an extra hundred points (don't they allow calculators now, too?). So any test scores from 1994 or later are considered meaningless as anything other than an indication of how you did on the SAT compared to the other students that exact same year.

Before 1994, the SAT correlated closely with IQ and could generally be compared (roughly) across years because it hadn't changed much in decades (precisely the complaint that led it to being redesigned). For example, MENSA doesn't accept [mensa.org] SAT scores after 1994 as indication of intelligence.

Re:1220 in 1989 (1)

Urusai (865560) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725345)

Mensa accepts a 1250 on SAT scores from when I took it? Geez, they let just anyone in, don't they?

Re:1220 in 1989 (0, Offtopic)

buswolley (591500) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724803)

Of my high school senior class in 1995, two students earned a perfect SAT score. I played him chess and made him cry, but he sure as hell beat my 1170. Of course, I didn't give a flip.

Re:1220 in 1989 (4, Funny)

glwtta (532858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724969)

I played him chess and made him cry, but he sure as hell beat my 1170.

Let me guess, the verbal section accounted for much of the discrepancy?

Re:1220 in 1989 (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724991)

Well you know, way back then I barely knew what a SAT was. Nor did I really have much purpose in life. I just showed up and took a test. I didn't practice really.

I'm taking the GRE tomorrow. Wish me luck. I practiced like hell for this one.

Re:1220 in 1989 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20725101)

Goodluck.

Re:1220 in 1989 (2, Funny)

buswolley (591500) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725095)

While I love a good harangue with a few flourishing grandiloquences, I must protest your insult and speak forwardly with a plain tongue.

I pity the fool.

Re:1220 in 1989 (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725277)

Of my high school senior class in 1995, two students earned a perfect SAT score.


Sorry, the 1994 & 1995 SATs were the new, easy kind. You could get a "perfect" score and still get several questions wrong.

Re:1220 in 1989 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20724987)

That's not really true. The SAT is a glorified IQ test. Previously they normed the scores with five sigma levels. The 'recentering' simply dropped the top sigma level to make all scores past sigma 4 equivalent. The dirty truth, though, is that as an IQ test it's not accurate past sigma three. In other words, all scores above 1430 (3+ norm) on the old test and 1520 (3+ norm) on the new are statistically identical. Try telling that to people who have tied their personal identity to some number, though.

And then there's Mensa, who spied a great opportunity to make everybody pay to take their test rather than honoring some other score. No, that couldn't be it...

Re:1220 in 1989 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20725043)

Eh, it's still the same BS, though. I did get over 1400 in '89, went to fancy schools, and what that got me? I'm still only a lousy programmer.

Re:1220 in 1989 (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725099)

I did get over 1400 in '89, went to fancy schools, and what that got me? I'm still only a lousy programmer.

Don't whine.

At least it qualified you for that job with Microsoft.

Relevance of US News & Reports (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20724719)

Does anyone actually rely on US News & Reports in making these sorts of decisions? I found the rankings laughable when choosing my undergraduate and graduate schools.

Re:Relevance of US News & Reports (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20725291)

Unfortunately, you and I don't but everyone else does... and so does your future employer

Sad eh?

is that a word? (0, Offtopic)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724729)

What is quartile?

Re:is that a word? (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724743)

*smacks forehead*
wikipedia first. For others who didn't know:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartile [wikipedia.org]

learn something everyday.

Re:is that a word? (1)

Green Monkey (152750) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724751)

To put it simply, it's a quarter of all the percentiles (hence the term!).

So, the bottom quartile contains all the people who are in the bottom 25 percentiles of SAT scores. (i.e., out of the entire distribution of SAT scores, these were the 25% that were the lowest).

The top quartile contains all the people who are in the top 25 percentiles of SAT scores.

And so on...

Re:is that a word? (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725007)

What is quartile?

Don't worry, you're not in it.
     

Fast times at MIT.. (1)

OldChemist (978484) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724733)

First the bomb-girl with the board and playdough. Now this. I shudder to think what the Caltechies may do with this information for their next prank.

Re:Fast times at MIT.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20725057)

This *is* the Caltech prank!

Forign Students (1)

Forge (2456) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724735)

Why should the SAT scores of Foreign students count at all?

I ask because I know several people who graduated Jamaican high schools then enrolled in American universities, including MIT (There is a rumour going around that MIT is a good school).

Thing is many of those Jamaicans never did SAT at all. They either did the CXC (Caribbean Examination Council) exams or the British "O" Level and "A" Level exams.

Many US Universities (Including MIT) are happy with grades from those exams. So happy that you are not asked to pay school fees if you can run or jump.

Re:Forign Students (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724883)

Many US Universities (Including MIT) are happy with grades from those exams. So happy that you are not asked to pay school fees if you can run or jump.

I don't know what MIT is doing, and I'm not contradicting you about wherever you went, but I don't think that's typical. At least at my alma mater, they don't care where you came from, but they want to see some sort of standardized test score. In fact, they tend to rely on them more heavily for foreign students, who typically don't get an opportunity to interview in-person, and who may be coming from a radically different educational background than a U.S. student. (Which means the admissions officer can't look at their transcript and really know what it means, in the same way someone very familiar with high schools in a particular region of the U.S. can.) Foreign students usually also have to take the TOEFL and get some minimum score.

I also distinctly recall that there was no financial aid offered to foreign students; it was a strictly cash-on-the-barrel-head operation (in some cases, literally *cash*, although I don't expect that happens anymore).

I think that the extent to which universities roll out the red carpet to foreigners is usually overestimated by many U.S. students; coming here to study ain't no picnic.

Picking a few schools more or less at random, I see that testing for non-U.S. students is de rigueur at William and Mary [wm.edu] , Caltech [caltech.edu] (which offers some financial aid to foreign students, but admission is not need-blind), and Duke [duke.edu] . They seem to vary a little on whether the TOEFL is required or just encouraged, but except for a short note on Duke's page about an exemption from the SAT for students coming from countries where it isn't offered, there's no acceptance of alternative national tests in lieu of the usual SAT/ACT. I think that's more an exception than a rule.

Re:Forign Students (1)

Forge (2456) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725185)

Sorry I wasn't clear. By "not have to pay" I was talking about sport related scholarships not financial aid. Those scholarships are the prime motivator for Jamaican High school athletes at the Pen relays. That's why you see results like this [pennathletics.com] . Short version top 6 places in the 4x100 relay for high school boys. Winning time 39.96

Some US schools think an exam which works for 15 of America's weaker allies [caricom.org] is standard enough.

Re:Forign Students (1)

Skippy_kangaroo (850507) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725051)

So happy that you are not asked to pay school fees if you can run or jump.

MIT doesn't offer athletic scholarships. Academic yes, athletic no. (It's a condition of their participation in NCAA Division III.)

Re:Forign Students (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20725097)

No, they don't offer any merit-based scholarships at all. Get your facts straight.

Re:Forign Students (1)

Skippy_kangaroo (850507) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725271)

Admission is merit-based.

Scholarships exist to ensure that those who are admitted will not be prevented from attending because of financial need. Thus, the requirements to receive a scholarship from MIT are academic merit and financial need. That's merit-based in my book.

Re:Forign Students (1)

Forge (2456) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725229)

Probably true. The people I know who went to MIT got in on academic scholarships. It's a LOT harder to qualify for those and the difficulty goes up when dealing with top end schools

Our economy sucks (GDP per Capita ~$4,700 US, compared to $43,500 for USA) so almost nobody can actually afford MIT.

Re:Forign Students (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725205)

Many US Universities (Including MIT) are happy with grades from those exams. So happy that you are not asked to pay school fees if you can run or jump.

I'm pretty sure that MIT doesn't give sports scholarships.

Re:Foreign Students (1)

wdr1 (31310) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725451)

Why should the SAT scores of Foreign students count at all?

That's not the question at hand. Rather, if everyone else is reporting them, why should MIT be exempt?

-Bill

Those whacky MIT Kids... (5, Funny)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724745)

Yet another hilarious prank, no doubt. I wonder how many kids scored 1337?

Just watch out when one of them attains the CEO position at your company.

"Hey, you know what would be a really hilarious number for our stock prices to hit?"

Uh oh.

Can it get any worse for MIT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20724749)

With the recent "MIT Student Arrested For Wearing 'Tech Art' Shirt At Airport" http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/21/1849208 [slashdot.org] , and now this SAT Math calculating error at an institution that prides itself on being one of the most technically and quantitatively facile on the planet, can it get any worse for MIT?

Re:Can it get any worse for MIT? (1)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724821)

It could get a lot worse - they could stop being one of the most technically and quantitatively facile institutions on the planet.

Oops! (2, Interesting)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724787)

Sucks for them I guess. I really don't think that the ACT/SAT scores should be used by colleges or universities. Instead, the IQ test score should be used. The ACT/SAT tells that you know stuff. The IQ test shows your ability to figure things out.

Perhaps from a math standpoint, the ACT and SAT could be useful. But the rest of the stuff in the tests... useless.

Re:Oops! (1)

paitre (32242) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724829)

The SAT actually used to be an equivalence to the IQ test - prior to the mid-1990's 'normalization' where the scores now basically mean bunk.

Re:Oops! (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724851)

I administer IQ tests daily. Let me tell you. Their methodologies do not impress me. Half of the WASI IQ test is simply a vocabulary test. The other half does require problem solving though..

Re:Oops! (2, Insightful)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725357)

Half of the WASI IQ test is simply a vocabulary test.


I think you'll find that it isn't a vocabulary test, it's a test of whether you can on-the-fly generalize and intuit how to reapply pieces of language (after all, IQ tests are basically designed to test your ability to see patterns and apply them).

Sure, if you don't know anything about the English language, you'll be screwed, but if you don't know anything about geometry you'll be screwed just the same. You could TRY to memorize the whole dictionary, or you could be abstract enough to recognize (whether consciously or not) the functions of prefixes, suffixes, letter combinations that indicate the mother language of the root word, etc. You don't have to have studied language or vocabulary to recognize that words where "j" makes a "y" or "h" sound behave differently than words where "j" makes a "j" or "g" sound, and then draw rough conclusions about the meaning and behavior of similar words. Certainly well enough to do simple antonym, synonym and verbal relationship tests.

Re:Oops! (3, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724855)

Your intelligence doesn't determine how ready you are for school. I have a high IQ but I score badly because other people put more work into school than I do.

Re:Oops! (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724889)

They just don't understand/appreciate the fruits of your gift.

Re:Oops! (1, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725005)

If you can't put the effort into it then you ARE inferior to someone of lesser intelligence. There are no fruits if you can't even take the time to planet the tree.

In other words stop blaming everyone else and look hard at yourself and either stop bitching or change

Re:Oops! (4, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725063)

He wasn't bitching about it -- he was stating a fact: that he was doing worse than others, and did not blame it on anyone else. The only one here bitching is you.

Re:Oops! (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725133)

The original poster wasn't but thatskinnyguy was implying it, that it's the fault of others. I admit I should have worded my reply in another way to be more clear, my mistake.

And yes I do bitch quite often, I never said I don't.

In this case it's simply due to my own hard learned experience. Intelligence is worth very little unless you have the work ethic to put it to use, and it's your own fault if you can't manage to do something with that intelligence not anyone else's. I've seen too many people believe otherwise and get sucked into an bottomless pit of no return, for if you wrongly blame the world for something you can fix yourself then you will never actually fix it. It is human to blame others but I simply don't find it productive. Of course if you want to be lazy and accept the consequences then that's perfectly fine.

Re:Oops! (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724905)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IQ [wikipedia.org]

Nope, IQ is meant to predict educational ability and achievement.

Re:Oops! (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724939)

It predicts average or possible education achievement, by college you have already met or not met the "possible" part of that. If you're lazy then you will do worse even if you have a good IQ. You have better potential but actual achievement is determined by more than just potential. Likewise it only measures one part of your potential and is far from a comprehensive measure (for example creativity is not measured).

By the time you enter college it doesn't matter how good you inherently are but how good you actually are, that has to include your work ethic and knowledge in some way not just your sheer intelligence or problem solving skills.

Re:Oops! (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724965)

If you're lazy then you will do worse even if you have a good IQ.
If you have a high SAT/ACT score and are lazy you'll probably flunk out too.

Re:Oops! (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724989)

Depending on how high, the SAT does require some studying or you really can't do that well unless you're gifted in a particular way. The math test used to be a collection or trick filled essentially trivial problems which you could get wrong not because you didn't know the material but because you missed the fast one they tried to pull. The english section was a question of how well you can memorize dictionaries. The thing is that for both sheer studying could get you a much better grade although it was a particularly useless type of studying imho.

The true geniuses can do well no matter what but for the ones who are simply above average in intelligence things like the SAT are much more of an equalizer than an IQ test.

Re:Oops! (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724999)

Why not take both into consideration?

Re:Oops! (3, Insightful)

sholden (12227) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725257)

Because the IQ score gives no useful information.

If the person has a high SAT score but a low IQ score then they are in the "work really hard" group, you want them.

If the person has a high SAT score and a high IQ score then they are in the "gifted" group, you want them.

If the person has a low SAT score and a low IQ score then they are in the "dumb" group, you don't want them.

If the person has a low SAT score and a high IQ score then they are in the "smart but lazy" group, you don't want them.

Since all you don't actually care about the groups, just the "want them"/"don't want them" decisions IQ provides nothing.

Re:Oops! (1)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724913)

Until Kaplan will offer courses on how to score well on IQ tests and then all it will mean is how much did that student study solving IQ test problems. In other words all standardized tests show is how well can that student take a standardized test, which is great is they plan to major and find employment in Advanced Standardized Test Taking Business, because the real world is a not standardized test.

I have a great problem with countless standardized tests of the 'no child left behind' kind. All kids are doing today in schools is just prepare to take the next test. They don't study anything interesting, useful (yes, even fun), they study enough material to pass the next state/federal/whatever standardized test, and then it starts all over. In the end no child will be left behind because the whole country will be behind.

Re:Oops! (4, Informative)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724963)

US colleges use a whole lot more than the SATs to determined admission, essays and extra-curriculars and grades and so on. In some ways the fact that you can study for the SAT does make it a better measure, work ethics and the ability to study are important for life and college.

Actually the US college system relies amazingly little on standardized tests in comparison to many other nations. In many countries there is a set of tests which pretty much are the only measure and the only chance you get. If you do badly or the computer system fucks up you're screwed.

Re:Oops! (1)

thealsir (927362) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725151)

Another reason is the paying of much grando money to get into college in the first place. Students are a lucrative income stream in the US; hence, it's better to lower the entry bar a little bit and then use the first year of school as the _real_ admission test.

Re:Oops! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20725153)

US colleges use a whole lot more than the SATs to determined admission, essays and extra-curriculars and grades and so on.

You left out one of the biggest criteria, being part of a favored minority. If you're black or female, you get easier admission. If you're chinese or male, you have a harder time getting in.

Re:Oops! (1)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725377)

In many countries there is a set of tests which pretty much are the only measure and the only chance you get. If you do badly or the computer system fucks up you're screwed.
And you actually think that's a good thing? I don't want to live in your degenerate nation.

Re:Oops! (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725497)

Does it sound like I think thats a good system?

Anyway, I was mostly just stating a fact and yes I do know someone who got fucked over by a computer glitch.

In the US system you do lose some stability (you can't ever be sure that X will mean you get into Y) but I do think the flexibility is by far worth it. Not that there isn't some flexibility in other countries but it seems a lot more contained and limited. Of course I'm biased since I grew up (mostly) in the US and personally I'd be eaten alive by a system based only on standadized tests.

Re:Oops! (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724943)

The IQ test shows your ability to figure things out.

The IQ test can help spot developmental problems in children - that's what it was designed to do, and that's the only thing it's good at.

Well there's your problem... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20724917)

MIT's reported first-quartile SAT verbal and math scores for the 2006 incoming class totaled 1380, a drop of 50 points from 2005.


I don't normally put a lot of stock in standardized test scores, but with a total score of 1380 for an entire class, I can see how that might be a problem.

What, what? (1)

DarkNinja75 (990459) | more than 6 years ago | (#20724937)

1380? I scored that, and I'm terrible at math. I always thought MIT was way out of my league, but I guess not.

Must have used SCO's "MIT Rocket Scientists" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20724949)

That would explain the error prone nature....

not just a chuckle story (1)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725159)

At first I just chuckled at this, but then I thought about 5-6 years ago when I was applying to undergrad. If I saw that MIT's average SAT score was 1380, I would have applied because that is right around where I scored. If I saw that MIT's average SAT score was 1430, I wouldn't have applied (and I didn't).

There were hotter girls at my college anyway.

As if SAT scores really matter (1)

debuglife (806973) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725165)

The reality of the situation is that SAT and GRE scores are so easy to doctor. I am an international student, and at MIT. I crammed 3000 words from word lists for the GRE. I scored 1480 (800 math + 680 verb). In terms of percentile scores, the math was 93% (even after a perfect :-) and the verb was 99%. Yet, my English really isn't as good as that of my fellow classmates, primarily because I am not really a native english speaker. So I think that a selectivity metric based on SAT / GRE scores is a weak one. On the other hand, USNews rankings is a weak metric itself. But really, MIT is a great school - much bigger,better,faster than some California schools like to think. I couldn't resist putting the last line in, after all, this mesg was posted from a 18.xxx.xx.xxx address.

Re:As if SAT scores really matter (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725293)

I take the GRE tomorrow. Wish me luck on my vocab test.

Nobody Should Care (2, Insightful)

Evets (629327) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725375)

MIT is a prestigious institution. Does anybody really decide between Universities based on a US News rating?

Scoring high may or may not help you get into the right school. The right school will make a difference for pretty much your first job. After that, if people are even mentioning your education other than in passing during an interview, you've already lost.

I know very few people who value educational qualifications over proven experience. Of course, the tech world is a bit different than the rest of the business world, but this is slashdot.

Dammit! (1)

KC1P (907742) | more than 6 years ago | (#20725381)

Oh sure, find the problem NOW!

- JW, SAT=1380, RPI '88 thank you ever so much (99% of the people I knew at frickin' RPI were there because like me they got bagged by MIT)
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