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How to use adaptive assessment in SAT preparation

How to use adaptive assessment in SAT preparation


Adaptive tests, or “tailored tests” are a calibrated method of assessing each student’s level or performance during tests. The difficulty level of the questions is tailored to the individual student, allowing for an accurate assessment of their abilities. They were first designed in the 1900s to diagnose cognitive development in young children. Now, with improving technology, adaptive testing has become feasible for large-scale assessment.
Type of Adaptive Tests

Type of Adaptive Tests

There are two types of adaptive tests – item adaptive and stage adaptive. In item adaptive tests, an algorithm controls the difficulty level of the questions. The questions that the student has to answer depend on the student’s performance in the previous questions. If a student consistently answers questions correctly, the difficulty level increases. Similarly, if the student has difficulty answering questions and is solving many wrongly, the algorithm gives them more straightforward questions.

In stage or module adaptive tests such as the SAT, the test evaluates the test-taker’s performance across a set of questions. This means that if a student does well in one section of the test, they will get more difficult questions during the next section. 

Benefits of the Adaptive Testing Model

In order to make sure that the algorithm works correctly, the test must be prepared with a wide sample set of questions or test items. Due to this, the algorithm is able to select questions that provide a highly accurate measure of a student’s abilities.

An additional benefit of accurately targeting student ability is that the tests have fewer questions and thus take less time to complete. This means that students can take more practice tests and receive instantaneous feedback. Even though the tests are shorter, they are as reliable as more extended non-adaptive tests. Also, matching the student’s ability level promotes a more student-friendly test-taking experience.

How to Prepare for Adaptive Assessment

The adaptive testing model means that it is essential for students to do well on the first set of questions as it impacts the rest of the test. Students who take time to reach their peak performance capacity during the test will be disadvantaged. This is why students need to start the test strong.

Students may face additional stress and panic during the test if they overthink and feel like they aren’t performing well. However, the preparation for adaptive tests is not very different from non-adaptive tests. By taking regular practice tests and improving test-taking strategies based on teacher feedback and data analytics, adaptive difficulties can be tackled easily.

What's Next

While assessments such as SAT may be adaptive, your practice can also be adaptive. This will help you focus on areas of weakness and optimize your preparation time. HighScores.ai provides adaptive-based practice and utilizes students’ historical data to focus on weak areas and areas requiring revisions.

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