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View Full Version : How many people REALLY got a perfect SAT score?

Prez2032
05-21-2000, 08:34 PM
What's the REAL breakdown for scores on the SAT 1? I remember hearing that one of my classmates in high school had gotten a perfect score, and it was a pretty big deal back then. I'll occasionally see a blurb on the news about someone scoring a perfect 1600, but what has always bugged me is how many people got a score of 800 on one section? It seems that almost everyone I know now in college claims to have done that. Are all my acquaintances geniuses, or are perfect scores in either the math or English section really that common? If anyone has numbers for me, or even well thought out guesses, it'd be very interesting to hear.

Jello
05-21-2000, 08:41 PM
They've been pretty common since 1991, I think, when they (forgot who they are...but I know this is true) changed it so you can miss three problems or so and still get a perfect score.

There's someone I know who got an 800 in math in 7th grade. Her parents were math teachers, so she had a bit of an advantage. Not sure what she had in verbal.

And I know someone else who got 1600 before they were made easier. Back then a very small amount of people (ten or less) got them every year.

365 people with perfect scores on the SAT applied to Harvard in 1997 I think(not sure about the year but positive about the numbers of people who got the scores) and 185 were accepted. So they aren't everything.

Hope I was of some help!

DrFidelius
05-21-2000, 08:49 PM
I only got a 1490.

But that was back when we had to use a number two chisel on the rock...

Yeah
05-21-2000, 09:00 PM
I don't think you ever needed to get 100% of answers correct to get an 800. (I got 800 in the chemistry achievment test [sometime not long after Mendeleyev invented the periodic table]and I'm pretty sure I didn't answer all the questions correctly). The 800 is not directly related to how many answers you got right, got wrong, or failed to answer but is related to your percentile. I think it corresponds to about a 99.99%ile so anybody who does that well, whether they answer all the questions correct or not, gets an 800.

Ringo
05-21-2000, 09:14 PM
My sister and brother both attended a non-Ivy League ritzy school (Rice University) and had many classmates who claimed perfect scores. I don't know how many claims were true, but their classmates seemed a brainy bunch.

I bagged a 1460 and went on to UT Austin where I was never once asked to provide SAT scores for entrance. I'll confess to being one of those who do (or, did) well at standardized tests without necessarily knowing the material.

I do seem to vaguely remember something about the keepers of the flame dropping the bar a few years ago. Has such occurred?

Initial Entry
05-21-2000, 10:14 PM
They did recalibrate it a few years ago, I'm not sure of the effect it had on the scores though.

I honestly am not at all surprised that many people got perfect scores on half the test, though. Many friends of mine got 800's on either math or verbal-including myself, but no one I know got an 800 on both.

Dystopos
05-21-2000, 10:48 PM
I remember my "Math Magazine" which we got in 7th grade math class had a little blurb about Huey Lewis (then making a lot of money off the 'Back to the Future' soundtrack) making a perfect score on his SAT's.

Myself, I benefitted from being able to add your best scores on a section. I took it twice and flip-flopped between doing well on verbal and well on math. If anyone's keeping statistics, I did better on the math while suffering from a miserable cold.

Luckie
05-21-2000, 10:59 PM
Dear Yeah:
you speak of getting an 800 on the Chemistry test. I think you might be refering to the GRE subject tests ( I dont think the SATs have anything but math and verbal).
The GRE subject tests are scored on a scale from 200-1000 (rather than the 200-800 on the SAT's and GRE general portions).
-luckie
of course, i could be wrong....

bibliophage
05-21-2000, 11:00 PM
Cecil covered this years ago. See Is it possible to score more than 800 on your SATs? (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_385.html)

They renormed the scoring in the early 1990s so that the average score is again about 500 on each test. The effect is to raise scores by about 100 points on each test.

bibliophage
05-21-2000, 11:08 PM
Correction: Renorming has the effect of raising scores 100 point total, not on each test. +80V/+20M. I don't have the exact figures. When the test was first administered (sometime before 1940, I think), the average score was 500 V/500 M. Scores changed to the point that the averages fell to about 420V/480M.

Flymaster
05-21-2000, 11:20 PM
Well...I HONESTLY got a 1580...800M/780V, and 2 other people in my HS class of 258 got 800V, and a kid that graduated before me got a 1600...this is just an average public HS in Massachusetts. At the school I now attend, one of my friends got an 800M, and I'm sure there's plenty more of us. I suspect that an 800 isn't nearly the big deal it used to be.

Oat Willie
05-22-2000, 12:30 AM
I got 800 in math, and a Ford Fund full 4-year scholarship based on that alone. No essay or anything. One of your parents had to work for Ford Motor.

Cardinal
05-22-2000, 02:29 AM
ETS, writer of the SATs, indeed does have a high school chemistry test, with a long list of other subject, including Korean and Modern Hebrew. Any of these "other" subjects can be used as your 3rd subject to apply to a school that requires 3 SAT IIs, like any University of California campus. English Writing, and one of two Math tests are mandatory. Trust me on this, I get asked this about 3 times a week from just-coming-up-to-speed-on-all-this-standardized-testing-stuff parents.

Prez2032
05-22-2000, 02:41 AM
Everyone's information has been very helpful, not to mention interesting to read! Thanks!

Wendell Wagner
05-22-2000, 05:01 AM
Hey, Oat Willie, what year did you have a Ford Fund scholarship? I had one too. My father worked in a Ford engine plant. I was in college 1970 through 1974.

I thought I read that in a recent year there were 33 people who got double 800's on their SAT.

JonF
05-22-2000, 06:45 AM
I got an 800 in math Level 1 and another in Level 2 (which, at the thime, was an optional test). Also back when we had to chisel the answeres into rocks. I forget what I got in English, but it was in the high 700s

bibliophage
05-22-2000, 06:55 AM
I should have mentioned before that (since the renorming) the average score on each test is 500 and that the standard deviation is about 100 points. So getting a score of 800 means that you're 3 (or more) standard deviations above the mean. Scoring 3 or more SDs above the mean on an IQ test would give you an IQ of 145 or more.

bibliophage
05-22-2000, 07:17 AM
If I thought about it, I could probably say everything I have to say in one post. No wonder I never got an 800 on the SAT.

As I said above, you need to get a score 3 Standard Deviations above the mean (more or less) to get a score of 800 on the SAT. One out of every 769 test-takers should score this high.

Those with a lot of time to waste who are really interested can take a practice full-length SAT online at Princeton Review (http://tester.review.com/) (free registration required). When I took it a couple of years ago, I scored 110 points higher on the Verbal and 60 points higher on the Math than I did when I was in high school (before the renorming.) That's why I thought the renorming would add about 200 points instead of the 100 it actually adds. Evidently, I've gotten smarter since high school. (I still didn't manage to crack 800 on the practice test, although the verbal score was pretty close.)

handy
05-22-2000, 10:06 AM
I proudly probably got the lowest score of anyone here but its quite understandable & didn't keep me from getting into UCSD....

If it makes anyone feel better, only an insane person could get a perfect score because they have the brains to figure out the structure of the tests.

PublicBlast
05-22-2000, 11:59 AM
If it makes anyone feel better, only an insane person could get a perfect score because they have the brains to figure out the structure of the tests.

You don't have to be THAT nuts--just practice a lot and think creatively.

I have a friend who got 800 on the SAT Math. The problems aren't THAT hard, and the biggest problem is the time constraint--any yutz can do well if they pace themselves and practice. If you are a math nerd, then the time constraint is negligible, and you just blaze thru the math.

I took the LSAT (law school test) twice and got a perfect score on the reading comprehension both times (which, unfortunately, does not factor out to a separate score like the SAT). I'm an English major, which maybe helped, but I just found it easy--the questions they asked weren't too hard, given my practice in critical reading. Got a good enough score to get me into U of Chicago law, where I'll be in the same city as Cecil!!

Akash

P.S. But please don't ask me about A) the SAT math section or B) the LSAT Arguments section. [shudder] English major is frightened of these things, he is. :o

VileOrb
05-22-2000, 02:07 PM
As I had no credentials to show my students that I was an authority on the subject, I would take one of the standardized tests (Usually GRE) every year and bring the results to class. Once I took the entire GRE math section without reading the questions. I got 2 wrong (resulting in a 'perfect' score, you can pay extra to see which questions you got wrong). Admittedly, this kind of familiarity with the tests is a bit nuts. I did not get perfect scores on the SAT's, but I last took them when I was twelve. I then skipped a couple of grades and finally dropped out of high school so I could go to college full time. Turns out I'm not all that bright (about 138 IQ). I just test well.

Johns Hopkins had, and still has I think, a lot of programs for 'gifted' children. I think there were about 4 or 5 that got 'perfect' 1600 scores at age twelve in 1978, the year I got involved. There were all kinds of studies done on us. One of the most interesting, to me, was that all of us but one that year had a nearest older sibling at least 4 years older. (The one exception was an only child.) There were a lot of theories bouncing around about women giving their womb time to heal and such. I haven't kept track of it in years though.

All of this is from memory, but I think I can dredge up documentation for the studies if someone is really interested. I have a big box full of stuff from those days in a closet somewhere. I have a box full of class materials for GRE, LSAT, and MSAT too. Next time I move all this will probably get trashed so let me know if you want any out of date standardized test info. I can't believe I've already carried this crap halfway across the country.

handy
05-22-2000, 06:03 PM
"It's not often that a school is graced with a student who has received a 1600 on
her SATs. In fact, the College Board reported that of the 2,048,000 students
who took SATs last year, just 673 achieved a perfect score."

From:
http://www.honeoyefalls.com/towns/Rush/common/news/1998/Dec98/1998121818262433.html

bibliophage
05-23-2000, 04:26 AM
VileOrb wrote all of us but one that year had a nearest older sibling at least 4 years older. (The one exception was an only child.) There were a lot of theories bouncing around about women giving their womb time to heal and such. I haven't kept track of it in years though. All of this is from memory, but I think I can dredge up documentation for the studies if someone is really interested.I'd be interested if it's not too much trouble. I've read that each child tends to scores a few points lower than the next-older child and that twins score a few points lower than non-twins. I score higher than any of my 5 older siblings (but #2 an #4 are very close to my scores). #1-#5 came in 7 years, then there was a 6-year hiatus before I came. Two of my cousins are very bright and they are #1 and #4 of 5 births pretty evenly spaced at 2 years.

I'm not sure whether it has anything to do with fetal development (but it very well may). It may have more to do with the older child getting less attention when a younger child is born soon after. It may have something to do with the family-size correlation. At least one recent study has found that children in large families have lower IQs than children in small families. (That conclusion is at odds with my experience and intuition.) IIRC at least one of these studies found that the birth-order-IQ correlation disappears when comparing families of the same size.

ChiefScott
05-23-2000, 05:21 AM
Why should anyone care about your SAT after you've begun attending university?

IIRC, my predeliction for underachievement was quite accurately reflected in my SAT score. Not that it held up my education one whit nor measured my intelligence.

Geenius
05-23-2000, 10:57 AM
I got an 800 math and a 760 verbal. Interestingly, I found out later that, because of the particular calibration my year, if I had gotten all the verbal questions right, I'd have received an 800; if I had skipped the one question I got wrong, I'd have received a 780.

I also got an 800 analytical on my GREs.

december
05-23-2000, 04:25 PM
I also got an 800 analytical on my GREs.
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Geenius -- I also received perfect score on the GRE analytical, but it was 900 back in 1963, rather than 800. Presumably college makes one 100 units smarter :-)

Back in 1959-60, when I took the SAT's, it didn't seem that significant to score 800 on the math. No questions were terribly difficult. One had to do moderately difficult work quickly ahd accurately.

For a while I carried in my wallet the little slip of paper giving my perfect score. 40 years later it seems pretty unimportant...