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Time and Method in Coaching for the SAT SAT

Messick, Samuel J.; Jungeblut, Ann
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Coaching, SAT, Teaching Methods, Testing Problems


An exhaustive review of studies of coaching for the SAT revealed them to be methodologically flawed in a variety of ways. Despite these flaws and the attendant noise obscuring the results, some definite regularities emerged relating the size of score effects associated with coaching to the amount of student contact time entailed in the coaching programs. Rank-order correlations between these two variables were upwards of .7 for both SAT-Verbal and SAT-Math. The relationship proved to be nonlinear, however, with arithmetically increasing amounts of score effect being associated with geometrically increasing amounts of student contact time, which in these data may also be serving as a proxy for increasing curriculum emphases on content knowledge and skill development as opposed to item review and practice. Thus, within the limitations of the available fragmentary data, there appear to be diminishing returns in SAT coaching effects, especially in Verbal. According to the logarithmic models fit to the data, the student contact time required to achieve average score increases much greater than 20 to 30 points (on a 200- to 800-point scale) for both SAT-Verbal and Math rapidly approaches that of full-time schooling. (56pp.)

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