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SAT botches scores

The Associated Press

It's the mantra of the SAT: Check your work. Apparently, the testers didn't do it carefully enough.

The College Board made a mistake on the math portion of the exam, and it was a 17-year-old from Peterborough, N.H., who recognized it.

As a result, the scores of as many as 45,000 high school students who took the Scholastic Assessment Test last fall will be boosted as much as 30 points. The math portion of the test is worth 800 points.

"We made a mistake. We screwed up," Brian O'Reilly, director of the SAT program, said Thursday.

It was the first time the College Board has admitted an error in the SAT since 1982.

Colin Rizzio, who took the test Oct. 12, along with about 350,000 other college-bound students, found the flaw in the multiple-choice answers to an algebra problem.

The algebra problem used the letter "a" to stand for a number. The test writers intended for students to assume that "a" is a positive number, in which case the correct answer is C.

However, if you assume that "a" could also be a negative number, the correct answer is D: "Cannot be determined."

"I was kind of hesitant when I circled that one in, so I proceeded through the test," Rizzio said Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America." Afterward, he contacted the Princeton, N.J.-based Educational Testing Service, which develops and administers the test for the College Board.

SAT officials were amazed that the flaw had escaped their experts and that a student had spotted it while taking the all-important three-hour test.

Math questions on the SAT tests are developed by former math teachers, reviewed by high school teachers or math professors and then checked by members of the SAT committee, O'Reilly said.
"At least a dozen individuals, seven of them present or former math teachers, missed it. It got by all of them," O'Reilly said. "The math teachers all had to say, 'You know what? He's right.' There was a certain level of embarrassment at not having thought the question through enough to come up with the answer he came up with."

The SAT, a test of both math and verbal skills, is the most widely used college admissions exam in the nation.

About 1.8 million people take it annually.

The corrected scores will be sent via Federal Express to the affected students and the colleges they applied to so the error won't hurt their chances of admission.

Rizzio's older brother, Aaron, described him as an above-average student at Contoocook Valley Regional High School, 45 miles west of Manchester, N.H.

"He likes to point out errors. This gave him a thrill, for sure," he said.

Rizzio has already been admitted to Clarkston University in Potsdam, N.Y. In a letter read on "Good Morning America," Clarkston President Denny Brown said: "I think he is precisely the kind of student we're looking for - inquisitive, exacting, committed to excellence."

But Rizzio, an aspiring physicist who has also applied to Duke and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, wasn't saying where he will go.

02-07-97

<관련 자료들>

  • Senator's letter, "TRIBUTE TO COLIN RIZZIO FOR REVEALING A SAT ERROR"

  • 국제적 공분을 일으킨, 성균관대 보복사건



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