Interpreting SHSAT Practice Test Scores

May 4, 2020
Category: Communications

Our SHSAT practice tests are a great way to establish a benchmark, check for understanding, and gauge progress. With our proctoring video (included with your enrollment in your student’s Class Portal) students have an opportunity to practice under a timed setting, with many of the same prompts and reminders they would receive in an in-person practice test.

But what happens after you’ve taken the test?

Scaled Score vs. Raw Score

After taking the real SHSAT, students will receive a scaled score. This is the product of calculations performed by the Department of Education and its contractors.

The scaling process takes the raw score (the total number of questions answered correctly on each of the ELA and Math sections) and converts it to a scaled score. By doing so, the Department of Education generates a curve, and a student’s score is ranked relative to his/her peers. The process is proprietary, complex, and most importantly for our purposes, not disclosed to the public. In fact, the precise conversion from raw to scaled scores may vary slightly from year to year, depending on the particulars of that year’s testing population, exam, and administration.

The Importance of Percentile Rank

We provide statistical information to help families understand how a student performed relative to his/her peers. This achieves a similar goal as the scaling process conducted by the Department of Education: to rank students on a relative basis.

To help families understand how their student performed compared with other students who took that test, we provide the student’s percentile rank on each test. This compares one student’s performance against all other students who have taken that test. It is different from the percentage of questions answered correctly.

Let’s suppose Jeff has just taken an SHSAT practice exam. He correctly answered 20 of 57 total ELA questions. He correctly answered 30 of 57 total Math questions.

  • Jeff’s percentage of questions answered correctly is
    • 25/57, or 44% for ELA
    • 30/57, or 53% for Math
  • On this particular SHSAT practice exam, his performance translated to the following percentile ranks might be
    • 13 for ELA, meaning Jeff scored higher than 13% of other students (and 87% of other students scored higher than he)
    • 41 for Math, meaning Jeff scored higher than 41% of other students (and 59% of other students scored higher than he)

As we can see, percentage of questions answered correctly is not the same thing as percentile rank. On a different test, Jeff may answer more (or fewer) questions correctly, but receive a lower (or higher) percentile rank depending on how other students perform.

Scaled Score Estimations

Using actual scaled scores reported to us by past students, we perform statistical analyses to generate a curve that we apply to raw scores on our practice tests. This means that the conversion from raw scores to scaled scores on our practice tests should approximate – within a reasonable variance – a student’s actual scores. It is important to note that it is unlikely that your student’s actual scaled score will be exactly the same as your student’s practice test scaled scores.

Because the actual raw-to-scaled-score conversion process is proprietary, neither our analyses, nor any analyses by a third-party, is able to provide a truly accurate conversion. Thus, we believe the most valuable metric on these tests is percentile rank. We provide scaled score estimates for illustrative purposes only.

What’s Next?

The raw score on this test should be used as an indicator of areas of strength and areas for growth. Before the next practice test, spend time reviewing those topics where there is room for growth. You can also use your relative performance to help you understand which schools to prioritize in your specialized high schools ranking.

If you attend our classes or work with our tutors, we will use the results of these tests to tailor our lessons, spending time on topics/areas where the students need it most.

Remember, this test should be used for diagnostic purposes only. It does not guarantee any particular result or outcome on the actual test or admissions process.