January 28, 2012

Why are SAT scores rising at the high end?

In recent years, the number of kids scoring 700 or higher on SAT tests has been increasing. For example, the number of students with 700-800 scores on Math has gone up from 75,000 in 2001 to 112,000 in 2011. There are no doubt a lot of reasons for this, such as ambitious students who would have only taken the ACT in the past because it's the default in their region now taking both the ACT and the SAT, and more foreign elite students taking a shot at the SAT.

But here's another one that probably has an effect but I can't say how big: Back in the 1970s, students used to take drugs the night before the SAT. Now, with the spread of prescriptions for Ritalin and Adderall, they are more likely to take drugs the morning of the SAT. 

Here's an opinion piece in the NYT that's skeptical about the rise of concentration drugs:
TO date, no study has found any long-term benefit of attention-deficit medication on academic performance, peer relationships or behavior problems, the very things we would most want to improve. Until recently, most studies of these drugs had not been properly randomized, and some of them had other methodological flaws. 
But in 2009, findings were published from a well-controlled study that had been going on for more than a decade, and the results were very clear. The study randomly assigned almost 600 children with attention problems to four treatment conditions. Some received medication alone, some cognitive-behavior therapy alone, some medication plus therapy, and some were in a community-care control group that received no systematic treatment. At first this study suggested that medication, or medication plus therapy, produced the best results. However, after three years, these effects had faded, and by eight years there was no evidence that medication produced any academic or behavioral benefits.

Yeah, well, as the man said, in the long run, we're all dead. In the short run, there are a lot of key moments in life that help determine what path you get on. Taking the SAT might be one of them. As Robert Heinlein's narrator Kip says in the juvenile sci-fi classic Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, he made sure to stock his second hand spacesuit with "almost any pill a man can take take to help him past a hump that might kill him." (Of course, if you take too many pills, you can wind up, say, writing the uncut version of Stranger in a Strange Land. I've never read a good account of Heinlein's drug use, but it's pretty obvious he was very interested in them -- e.g., the "tempus fugit" drugs in Puppet Masters that make time appear to be moving more slowly.)

I sometimes wonder what percentage of my competitors in the punditry field are on prescription stimulants. 

There was an okay movie last year, Limitless, with Bradley Cooper as a would-be novelist with writer's block who gets a supply of a black market superdrug that makes him vastly smarter. One of the first things this writer does after his IQ doubles is to stop being a writer. I suspect there may be a lesson in there for me somewhere. I should drink four or five Diet Cokes and try to figure it out.

59 comments:

albert magnus said...

I drank a can of Coke right before the SAT. I made a perfect score on the math section, but did mediocre (560) on the verbal. (On the pre-1995 SAT). Though this reflects my abilities, but I wonder if the sugar rush helped me do the questions faster giving me more time to check my answers and work on the hard questions.

gwern said...

I don't really buy it. Look at the research paper http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5317066/DNB/2011-wai-flynneffect-exists-in-smartpeople.pdf (discussed in http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/08/are-smart-people-getting-smarter/ ).

The overall trend may be upwards even for the very smartest kids, but that's almost entirely due to the math scores! Verbal scores wobble around and may've fallen.

I've done a lot more reading about modafinil than more popular things like Adderall, but as far as I know, there's no real reason to expect them to substantially increase math scores and leave alone or hurt verbal scores.

Anonymous said...

More cheating.

Snoopy's beotch said...

I can't believe you would make this query knowing I'm malingering today. ugh, Ugh and UGH!

Anonymous said...

Well, my daughters did not take any drugs and still got over 700 on the SATs (one got 800 on the SAT MATH and the other MATH SAT).

However, they are half Chinese, so there is probably a good reason they got such high scores.

One of them also gets very good verbal scores.

Yan Shen said...

My guess is that the increase in high SAT-M scores can probably be attributed to the increase in East Asian Americans amongst recent high school cohorts.

Anonymous said...

"Well, my daughters did not take any drugs and still got over 700 on the SATs (one got 800 on the SAT MATH and the other MATH SAT).

However, they are half Chinese, so there is probably a good reason they got such high scores.

One of them also gets very good verbal scores."

I infer from your post you aren't the Chinese half.

edgy gurl said...

"Though this reflects my abilities, but I wonder if the sugar rush helped me do the questions faster giving me more time to check my answers and work on the hard questions."

If you had studied vocabulary diligently the sugar (causing greater insulin production) would've enhanced your ability to remember the words; the caffeine just kept your mind from wandering.

Maya said...

I know A LOT of people who did just that. I even know of parents who got their kids ritalin for that very purpose.

The reason it works better for math than it does for verbal is that if you're in calc or pre-calc by 11th grade, and you've been doing well in math up to that point, there really isn't a question that SAT could throw at you and catch you by surprise. Meanwhile, you really might not know or might not remember some vocabulary. Stimulants don't give you knowledge and skills that you don't already have. They just help you go faster and make less stupid mistakes.

Anonymous said...

I am still mad about the re-centering. People are less impressed by my 1974 750 verbal than they should be. It was a big deal at the time. :)

Anonymous said...

In the upper-middle class town I'm trying to survive in, I've seen an explosion in SAT prep classes over the past decade. Plus lots more Asians with parents who bully them.

I don't really believe in these "attention disorders" to begin with.

Jehu said...

Anonymous,
If you get a copy of your college transcript, you'll see that your SAT scores have been retroactively recentered. I think 750 (old) would be reported as 800 on your transcript should it be printed now.

Anonymous said...

Diet coke (usually) contains aspartame, which is actually a combination of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The latter MAY interfere with the enzyme phenyl sulfotransferease, which is responsible for the metabolism and then excretion of endogenous stimulants like adrenaline, etc. So blocking it leads to a rise in the levels of these compounds in the blood.

So does tartrazine, which is frequently added to children's candies and cereals as a "colorant" but which is really a kind of cryptic stimulant.

It's not the sugar.

Anon.

John said...

I suspect the answer is associative mating. Smart people are more likely to marry each other now, and have smarter kids. We may very well see the standard deviation of IQ test scores rise in the next few generations. Maybe they'll call it the "Sailer effect".

Let's! said...

Considering that a left-right consensus has formed around the sweatshop being the Enlightened Way of the Future, I wonder how long it will be before corporate America decides to take a second look at tacitly encouraging cocaine use.

Maya said...

"I don't really believe in these "attention disorders" to begin with."

You think that the system in our brain that is responsible for focus and organization is the only part of the human mechanism that can't ever be faulty? Just because something is currently trendy and overdiagnosed, doesn't mean that it doesn't actually exist.

jacknife said...

Could it be due to chinese kids paying other people to take the test for them?

Anonymous said...

"People are less impressed by my 1974 750 verbal than they should be."

Maybe people just aren't impressed with people who brag about their 38-year-old SAT verbal score.

edgy gurl said...

"I don't really believe in these "attention disorders" to begin with."

I agree. People have come up with ways to observe and describe differences that have always been with us. I could make a strong case for multitasking being easier for someone who manifests with what I'd call divided attention. I'm also afraid that what we say to such kids, who always found a functional path in life before despite being bad students, handicaps them with self-doubt. I've even heard of a kid who grew up to be an adult no better able to cope with stressful situations than someone who might get an official label of retardation. I do know the parents so it's easy to see how they could've stupidly undermined his self confidence to the point he developed a neurosis.

James A. Donald said...

Smart drugs don't improve your academic performance long term, but they make one hell of a difference on the day of the exam.

I don't recommend taking them long term - they make you smarter, but less sane, and the long term effect is loss, but in the short term, they simply work.

Mitch said...

There are two sorts of attention deficit: hyperactive and inattentive. I've never worked with hyperactive students as a tutor, but I've worked with several students with inattentive attention deficit. With one student, we had to plan his medication timing to be sure that it kicked in in time for the SAT. Since it took an hour to kick in and lasted for 3 hours, we worked it out that he had to take his first pill at breakfast and then take a second one at the break. The point wasn't to give him a false edge, but because he would have otherwise sat like a zombie and done nothing.

Since I started teaching high school, I've definitely seen students who have the hyperactive attention deficit. Unlike the inattentives, these kids often refuse to be medicated because they hate the way it makes them feel. (Inattentives, on the other hand, think the medication helps.) Most of these kids are unmanageable.

Is it overdiagnosed? Probably. Does the condition exist? Yes.

Anonymous said...

I recall looking at SAT data broken out by race and gender some time ago, and the percentage of Asian males scoring > 700, and even 800, on the SAT Math was something extraordinary.

I don't recall if I had any caffeine the mornings of my SAT and ACT exams but I do remember doing much better on the ACT the day I did not go to breakfast with friends before the test.

edgy gurl said...

"The point wasn't to give him a false edge, but because he would have otherwise sat like a zombie and done nothing."

I have never, ever heard of this. Are you sure he wasn't paralyzed due to intense fear of failure instead of a potential Awakenings type patient who had to be stimulated to respond appropriately?

Maya said...

Edgy gurl,

I don't know of anyone who just sits there like a zombie unless they get their meds. I guess it's an extremely severe case. However, I do know people who test in the 99th percentile in reading comprehension, and yet they read only 10-15 pages per hour (when reading enjoyable fiction for fun) without their meds. If you watch them read, you'll see that they keep stopping and staring into space. These people think that ACT and SAT are easy tests, but they can't get more than half of the questions answered in each section before it's time to put the pencils down. So, while grading their practice test, you'd see the first half of the questions mostly marked correctly while the second half is all marked as "C" or "B". When they start taking stimulants, this problem is corrected. People often do find ways to compensate for their shortcomings. But they don't always find a way to be functional, as you claim they do. Since the beginning of time, people have underachieved, acted weird, been accused of being witches, believed themselves to be cursed, were run out of towns for being screw ups and so on. Disorders exist in every area of human biology. Are some of them currently overdiagnozed? Sure. Doesn't mean that they don't exist. It's like depression. Some people claim it for attention or to use it as an excuse. But it is a real, devastating condition.

jtollison78 said...

Didn't the '05 recentering focus on lowering the math ceiling? I seem to remember discussion (on gnxp.com I think) on the likely purpose being to close the male-female gap.

Jeff Burton said...

Come on, all you four sigmas out there! This is a great chance for you to share you SAT scores!

W Baker said...

Steve said,

"One of the first things this writer does after his IQ doubles is to stop being a writer. I suspect there may be a lesson in there for me somewhere. "

I think you may be onto something...!

Mitch said...

"Are you sure he wasn't paralyzed due to intense fear of failure instead of a potential Awakenings type patient who had to be stimulated to respond appropriately?"

No, he wasn't afraid at all, and he wasn't a potential Awakenings patient. He would have just zoned out after a while, and probably not even have realized it.

His scores, as I recall, were 680 M, 600 V, and 530 R (the hardest for him to stay focused on). Without careful timing of the meds, he would have been in the high 400s on all three sections, because he would have done as Maya describes--been solid for the first hour, and then faded. Without the meds at all, he probably would have managed low 400s because condition or not, he was a bright kid (bright young adult, now).

He ultimately failed out of college the first time because he didn't have a tutor to keep him focused and on point. He then took 2 years off, matured, and went back. He just passed his first semester because he realized that he couldn't deny his problem, needed his meds, and had to learn how to cope either without support or digging in and finding support without someone else to look after him. I'm hopeful.

Defeated said...

Schools are more comfortable now. They have AC in more modern schools. The heat could be annoying in the late spring and early fall.

Girls always seemed more content in the plywood or plastic seats - they have a built in pillow. Bony butted boys are always squiring. How many people would furnish their homes with the kind of chairs found in grammar and high schools. Nutrition is considered relative to IQ. Maybe it is time to consider the environment.

With each succeeding generation, it is more likely parents took the SATs. My parents sure didn't; they didn't know to tell me that they might be the most important tests I'd ever take.

Anon87 said...

Diet Coke? Might as well do your experiment right and go with Jolt!

Howie said...

@James Donald and others:

Can someone explain to me why "smart drugs" would improve you performance in the short term but not have an effect over the long term? Or even result in a loss over the long term? Why is that?

Anony said...

"I don't know of anyone who just sits there like a zombie unless they get their meds. I guess it's an extremely severe case. However, I do know people who test in the 99th percentile in reading comprehension, and yet they read only 10-15 pages per hour (when reading enjoyable fiction for fun) without their meds. If you watch them read, you'll see that they keep stopping and staring into space. These people think that ACT and SAT are easy tests, but they can't get more than half of the questions answered in each section before it's time to put the pencils down."

That doesn't matter though. In the real world performance matters, and people who read that slow without medication are not valuable employees. I read quickly but if I had stimulants or an unlimited time to take the test then I'd probably do a little better as well, having more time to go back and check answers. Special treatment for ADD individuals defeats the entire point of standardized testing.

Anonymous said...

Adderall did more for my social skills in a week than eight years of "game" did. We should give up on this PC bull of trying to improve ourselves through effort and embrace the search for ways to chemically enhance ourselves.

sunbeam said...

A couple of thoughts on this.

There was a recent book called "Tiger Mom" or something like that that made a stir. The author was asian, but I don't think that was the primary focus of the debate.

As exists now in this country, there is a subset of people who we might as well call the "elite."

These are the kind of people who push their kids to get into exclusive elite pre-schools for god's sake. Then the race begins with the right elite private schools along the way, culminating in entry to one of the elite educational institutions: some of the Ivies, MIT, Caltech, Stanford, Chicago.

To be well rounded enough to get in, they get tuba lessons (well probably a cooler instrument like violin or sax) or some such shit along the way with soccer or what have you included.

Then they graduate and get elite jobs like their parents (primarily because of the network they become part of, and getting their ticket punched at the right place).

Now I have two points about this.

1) All the push on academics along the way is bound to have an effect.

As well as SAT prep classes that kids like this are going to go through to prepare for the test that is going to play a key role in admission to the institution that is going to play such a key role in the rest of their life.

The SAT is easy to prepare for honestly. I did very well on it, and my background prepared me poorly for it compared to kids from other backgrounds. (This was in an age too where most people just went to high school then took the test).

I did very very well on the verbal portion, and decently on the math portion (I got a 680 on that one).

If I had taken SAT prep classes and done a bunch of sample tests I'm convinced I could have done much better on the math portion. I think it would have actually been much easier to get a perfect score on that than the verbal portion (no I didn't get a perfect score on that but close).

I think this more than performance enhancing drugs is the reason you see so many more high scores.

Plus the test has changed from what I understand and it is easier now.

2) I have to kind of wonder if this setup isn't sort of replicating the conditions that produced the Ashkenazim Jews (if some of the theories I've read are correct) on a much larger scale.

You are more likely to marry and have children with someone in your social circle than not. And someone with a background like this isn't going to marry and have children with Skeeter from West Virginia.

My understanding is that a very large fraction of Ashkenazim Jews are outmarrying with this class currently, spreading those genes that promote intelligence within this group.

The Orthodox Jews and Sephardic Jews aren't. But Orthodox Jews don't seem very smart anyway (not Feynman/Einstein/Von Neumann smart anyway). And Sephardic Jews aren't in this country to an appreciable amount, and lack those valuable genes at any rate.

Maybe we are selectively breeding under current conditions into Eloi that are actually smart, and Morlocks.

A big long winded but that is what I think I am observing right now.

Marlowe said...

I dunno about Heinlein but his great rival among North American SF authors, Phil Dick, certainly munched his way through medicine chests of pills starting as a teenager during the war years of the 40s when his psychiatrist supplied him. He kept using amphetamines of various sorts for the rest of his life. One of his biographers (Lawrence Sutin) describes him as a cornucopia of useful knowledge on the properties of various pharmaceuticals and reported how Dick would pick up other people's prescription drugs at cocktail parties and explain their multitudinous effects usually from personal experience. He didn't like LSD much though when he took it in the 60s - he already had powerful hallucinations without it. Quite a few persons of the 50s seemed to have a speed trip - even Ayn Rand. So it wouldn't surprise me to discover Heinlein quaffed a few. Better living through chemistry.

Anonymous said...

the more likely cause is better test prep. academic-specialists spend more time learning how to game the tests than they ever did before.

i'd be surprised if enrollment in SAT prep courses hasnt risen substantially over the same period.

math is easier to learn than how to read well, i.e., the attentional procedures are simpler and easier to communicate, and so 'competence return' on attention/time invested is, on average, far greater.

SGI said...

What makes you think the number of kids who took drugs the night before the SAT in the '70's was more than trivial? How do you conclude that smoking weed the night before would turn a likely 700 into a 650, rather than a 600 into a 500? Seems to me back then the dope smokers were the kids who weren't inclined to pay attention in class anyway, so would they really know their 3-4-5 triangles? In my neighborhood near S.F., the kid with the thai sticks didn't know any math at all, and went to San Diego State. Now he's a tax lawyer.

Jacob Roberson said...

Only drug I needed was the stark terror of "OMG OMG I Might Fark This Up OMG."

(PS, why isn't the proctor allowed to loan you a calculator? College Board, you jerks.)

Jeeves said...

Drugs? What drugs?

I took the CA Bar Exam in 1969. back when it was three days of essay questions. (No multi-state, no multiple choice, period).
Each day I did crank in the a.m., then reds in the evening.

Worked for me

Anonymous said...

I only have had a couple of 'worlds best' test scores in my life -- and they were in conditions of relaxed confidence.

I nailed Chem Ach -- a 4 hour test reduced to 40 minutes. Tempo basically limited to reading speed and manual dexterity.

Later, as a young adult, nailed the financial industry's most common cumulative knowledge test. Created by Wonderlik (?) 70 was the cut-off for employee termination. The test's NORM was in the mid-seventies. (!)

I was the first in history to reach perfection, 100.

Statistically, that was considered so improbable that phone calls went coast to coast -- with a lawsuit threatened. 100 was an EXTREME outlier to so great a degree that the president was called.

Allegations about 6+ SD odds, and all that.

However, I think you'll agree, these are mere instances of super-memory -- which is a trait common in my extended family.

-------

My SAT scores are pretty humble stuff. By the time the math test was taken the material therein was so dated that I couldn't remember this or that trick/ relationship -- too many years had passed.

If only the test had been attempted in my freshmen year. Then I could've scored impressively.

-------

Which is on point for shifting SAT scores. With the Internet it is now possible for a student to accelerate away from the tempo of his peers.

This, however, is balanced by the tendency we all have to forget that which we do not use.

This is where the Asian cramming scheme comes into play. Test-centric knowledge is re-crammed in a most timely manner. That's how it lifts scores.

-------

The other factor is parental ACCEPTANCE. In my home -- and others I know -- extremely high intelligence was not so much scorned but beaten down -- as in physically punished -- to include belt whippings.

( A high school chum of mine scored in the top fifty nationally on the NMSQT. He couldn't sit down for days after his father found out about it. )

So the Asian angle is overrated. One should also take a peek at the sub-culture of anti-intellectualism still running strong in America.

Catperson said...

40 comments and no one's mentioned the flynn effect.

Glaivester said...

If this is an opportunity to brag, then:

I got perfect 240s on 2 PSATs, one in 1994, one in 1995 (the second I believe was after the recentering). I also got a perfect 1600 on the SAT, and around a 1250 the first time I took the SAT in 7th grade (580 verbal 670 math).

However, during and since college I have come to the conclusion that does not make me quite as special as I thought it did when I was in high school, so I think about it a lot less than I thought I would.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has some degree of ADD, and most people simply develop coping mechanisms to deal with it, so the drugs probably do help everyone, not just those with the worst symptoms.

Looks like the SAT will have to be re-centered upwards to accurately measure the scores of focus enhanced individuals.

Maya said...

"That doesn't matter though. In the real world performance matters, and people who read that slow without medication are not valuable employees. I read quickly but if I had stimulants or an unlimited time to take the test then I'd probably do a little better as well, having more time to go back and check answers. Special treatment for ADD individuals defeats the entire point of standardized testing."

I agree that giving anyone extra time defeats the whole purpose of standardized testing. However, meds are a different story. As an employer, I don't plan on giving any employee extra time because that would reduce value I'd get from each dollar I'd pay. However, i don't care if the employee has some problem which they are able to correct, somehow, without inconveniencing me. If a person takes stimulants, antipsychotics or blood pressure meds every day in order to function normally, it doesn't make that person a worse student or a worse employee. Giving someone extra time forces others to pick up their slack. Allowing people to take their medication doesn't concern anyone else. Now, there are positions out there which want to insure against the slightest risk of a person under performing (if they forget their meds or something), and that is fine. Most branches of our military don't allow for any type of brain disorders. Same goes for pilots. Understandable. But if your company has a really great accountant or your office has a wonderful manager who might have a slightly less productive day once in several year due to medication switch, will you even know?

Defeated said...

The model for the intellectual elite has become the Asian/Reform Jewish model. Have very few kids, take very good care of them and always know their whereabouts. Have a grand piano in the living room. Make sure all of their leisure time is spent with the family or with school sports teams. Allow no opportunity for youthful indiscretion.

I think of MacArthur, whose mother rented an apartment to spy, through a telescope, into his dorm room at West Point, to make sure he spent all of his time studying.

When this technique fails, kids pay someone else to take the test.

Personally, I would have suffocated in such an atmosphere- so claustrophobic. Some of my best memories are of drinking cheap draft beer with my friends, in a run down bar, after school, in junior year of high school. Ah, the simple pleasures!

No matter how elite you become, you will have to work with, or support, the rest of us.

Defeated said...

"The other factor is parental ACCEPTANCE. In my home -- and others I know -- extremely high intelligence was not so much scorned but beaten down -- as in physically punished -- to include belt whippings"

I grew up in a pretty rough blue collar/no collar town and I never witnessed such an attitude within a family. It almost sounds unreal. I can't even fathom the motivation. I worked with an illiterate dirt bag and even he took pride in the modest accomplishments of his illegitimate children.

Truth said...

"I infer from your post you aren't the Chinese half."

"Maybe people just aren't impressed with people who brag about their 38-year-old SAT verbal score."

Wow, I've really left a legacy here.

Truth said...

"40 comments and no one's mentioned the flynn effect."

Because the Flynn Effect implies that Quantavious Jones has a higher IQ than their grandfather.

Anonymous said...

"I grew up in a pretty rough blue collar/no collar town and I never witnessed such an attitude within a family. It almost sounds unreal."

Let me explain the puerile, psychotic sense of humor. The kid got punished for "getting smart".

scottlocklin said...

There's more going on here than Ritalin. Just today, in the cafe where I do my work: some optometry students discussing the chemical cocktails they're taking to ace their tests: beta blockers, provigil, pirecetam. I also think the knowledge of how to game these tests has become more widely disseminated.

Anonymous said...

It could be smarter people are marrying smarter people more than ever.

articles said...

"It could be smarter people are marrying smarter people more than ever."

It could also be that the narrow pursuit of academic credentials means that you can't be certain just how smart those who get certain standardized test scores and attend elite universities really are. I'm assuming you're too young to have any idea how dumbed down our world has become. It doesn't really matter what your socioeconomic status; you're buffered from the consequences of mistakes, perhaps even from the full benefit of exercising any special abilities you might have.

I'd be afraid, evolutionarily speaking, of putting all my eggs in the basket of a small set of cognitive skills. The fact is we don't know exactly what we're measuring with standardized tests even allowing for the concept of general G to be more than mythic.

Defeated said...

"Let me explain the puerile, psychotic sense of humor. The kid got punished for "getting smart"."

I guess I have a metropolitan bias. Here, if your child becomes a success, he moves to a swanky neighborhood, maybe a half hour to two hours away.
I guess if you live in a rural area or in a mining town or in a rustbelt city, your parents might feel their smart kids will have to move far away to find their fortune, leaving them to fend for themselves in old age. Maybe anger is a cover for impending loss and loneliness.

Anonymous said...

One cup of coffee = 4 diet cokes. Also, coffee won't fizz away the enamel on your teeth, leading to cracked molars and premolars.

On the other hand, Diet Coke whitens your smile, and the gold crowns you get in your peak earning years make a nice gratuity for the mortician or the local coroner.

articles said...

"I guess if you live in a rural area or in a mining town or in a rustbelt city, your parents might feel their smart kids will have to move far away to find their fortune, leaving them to fend for themselves in old age. Maybe anger is a cover for impending loss and loneliness."

English obviously isn't your first language. This is a play on a very common and ancient colloquial use of the word smart in English.

edgy gurl said...

"One cup of coffee = 4 diet cokes. Also, coffee won't fizz away the enamel on your teeth, leading to cracked molars and premolars."

You don't know what you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe people just aren't impressed with people who brag about their 38-year-old SAT verbal score."

I'd still be impressed, but only if they could prove it. If everybody actually had the SAT score they said they did the average verbal score would be 730.

Anonymous said...

I drank a bottle of wine the night before I took the GRE in 1990, then smoked a cigarette and had a cup of coffee before I walked over to the exam center the next morning. Whatever was (or was not) in the wine, the coffee or the cigarette, I got a triple 800 for my troubles.

Disgruntled said...

As someone who occasionally does test prep tutoring, I think Asians prepping like mad is the main reason for the score increase. I mostly tutor whites during their junior year of high school. Several told me that they requested tutoring once they met Asian students who have been taking test prep classes since junior high school.

Math is easier to prep than grammar and reading. Most math problems are variations on a theme, and once you know the trick the problems can be solved quickly if you don't blow the algebra.

In my experience, while several of my students have had Adderall, they still showed large math score increases (sometimes over a 100 pts)from a few months of prep. Amphetamines alone weren't cutting it.