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College Board

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Test Development

Determining SAT specifications and questions

Great care goes into developing and evaluating every item on each SAT test. Test Development Committees made up of experienced educators and subject-matter experts determine the test specifications and the types of questions that are asked, including topics and areas that should be covered.

Then College Board test developers write the questions, which are submitted to another test committee that is made up of qualified high school and college faculty and administrators. They review the test questions and make recommendations for improving them, if needed.

Once we have received and incorporated each round of feedback, each question is pretested before becoming an item in a scored section of a test.

Twelve key steps in test development

Every SAT question is reviewed by at least 12 professional test developers and educators. Here are the 12 key steps in each question's development from concept to final approval:

  • Define content specifications
  • Write questions
  • Review questions for content
  • Review questions for fairness
  • Pretest questions with students
  • Statistical analysis from tryout
  • Assemble, review draft version of test
  • Outside faculty review
  • Policy committee review
  • Editing, proofreading, printing, distribution
  • Test administration
  • Statistical analysis after test administration

To learn more about SAT and other tests please view our research studies.

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