SAT Prep: Experimental Section

A question that is often asked by students who are taking the SAT’s is, does the experimental section on the SAT count, and if so for what?

To help answer this question it is first important to note what the experimental section is; the experimental section of the SAT or ACT tests is an approximately 20 minute long section of the test that can contain questions from any of the four graded sections of the SAT (math, evidence based reading, writing, and an essay). The purpose of the experimental section is to provide the testing administrators: College Board, ACT with valuable information regarding potential questions, and how students answer them. To answer the question of does the experimental section on the SAT count? No, it does not, but it is important to remind students that it will be on the test and that they should expect this section.

In previous years the experimental section used to be the final section of the test only for the small group of students who did not take the optional essay, beginning in the fall of 2018, both the SAT and ACT administrators decided to add the experimental questioning section to the end of all students test, even those taking the essay portion. It is important to bear in mind that those who have extra time arrangements are exempt from the experimental section. Originally the testing administrators were mum on the new section out of a desire to have students answer the experimental questions, truthfully and to the best of their abilities. This caused some confusion as the new section was being rolled out, it is possible that now that we know for certain the experimental section does not count towards one’s overall score, some students might not put any extra effort into the final experimental section. The College Board expects that the number of students who do answer the questions like they are a part of the actual test will outweigh the number who don’t providing them with valuable information on the validity of questions, and allowing a decision to be made regarding a question that would’ve previously been omitted or included without any data behind it.

Perhaps in the future greater clarity will be provided by the testing administrators, something that would be of value to everyone involved with the SAT testing process, it is my theory that by involving high school teachers to a greater degree in collaboration with college admission departments the quality and over all value of the SAT would improve.

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