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Scoring Quality Control

SAT essay quality control standards

The SAT Program assures consistent, high-quality evaluation of SAT essays through ongoing, uniform training and the use of uniform standards. This means that:

  • The training process is ongoing and does not end once a reader has qualified.
  • The accuracy and fairness of the readers are evaluated regularly and frequently by having readers successfully score a small set of prescored "calibration" essays.
  • Calibration essays are used to clarify issues and provide feedback to readers once the scoring has begun.
  • To maintain reader accuracy throughout the scoring process, "validity essays"—clear examples of score points—are interspersed with other student responses.
  • Scoring leaders review readers' scoring of selected essays, including validity essays, and provide feedback via phone and the Web when appropriate.
  • Web-based scoring enables leaders to monitor readers in real time, informed by extensive real-time and summary reports on inter-rater reliability, validity, and calibration statistics.

Multiple-choice scanning quality control

The scanning accuracy of the SAT answer documents is very closely monitored with several quality assurance checks including alignment checks and double scanning of documents. We also control the humidity of the scanning facility to minimize environmental impacts on the system, and we conduct  frequent and controlled maintenance of all scanning machines.

The following guidelines are published in our test and practice materials and are given to all test-takers:

  • Use a No. 2 pencil and a soft eraser. Do not use a pen or mechanical pencil.
  • Make sure you fill in the entire circle darkly and completely.
  • If you change your response, erase as completely as possible.

If the test-taker's marks conform to the published instructions for marking the answer sheet, the scanning and scoring processes, combined with the quality control procedures, are designed to produce an accurate score.

Customized Entry Pages

Related Materials

Go to the SAT Downloads and Materials Ordering page to view and print these and other related materials:

  • Guidelines for the Release of Data
  • Score Reporting Options for High Schools
  • Electronic Data Layout for High Schools
  • Score Reporting Options for Higher Ed Institutions
  • Electronic Data Layout for Higher Ed Institutions

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