Test Validity and Design

beginning of content:

The SAT gives higher education professionals detailed information on student performance and makes it easy for students to show colleges and universities their best work. The SAT is a valuable part of the college admission process because it is a strong predictor of college success. We designed the SAT to offer greater insight into student performance, maintaining its strong predictive validity by:

  • Basing test design on a solid foundation of recent research.
  • Continually testing item types, test questions, essay prompts, and test forms.
  • Regularly reviewing student performance metrics.

Our preliminary predictive validity study showed that SAT scores improve the ability to predict college performance above high school GPA alone and that there is a strong, positive relationship between SAT section scores and grades in matching college course domains.

The College Board is currently seeking participants in the new, national predictive validity study. Learn more and sign up today.

Quick Facts

The SAT closely reflects the skills and knowledge that current research tells us are most critical for college readiness and success. The assessment requires students to have a stronger command of fewer topics.

  • The SAT is part of the SAT Suite of Assessments, which also includes the PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, and PSAT 8/9.
  • The test design of the SAT Suite is based on a body of research that identifies the skills and knowledge needed for college success.
  • The tests in the SAT Suite share a vertical score scale.
  • The SAT Essay is modelled closely on typical college writing assignments and is optional, giving colleges a choice of whether to require it for admission.

Vertical Alignment

All tests in the SAT Suite of Assessments are aligned to the same research backbone and focus on the same domain of knowledge and skills. As students progress from grade to grade, the tests will keep pace, matching the scope and difficulty of work found in the classroom. This progression is reflected in the new vertical score scale that reports student progress from year to year.

Learn more about the SAT Suite’s content alignment: