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Correlation (or the lack thereof) between SAT scores and undergraduate GPA Answered

There's a preprint out on arXiv reporting an analysis of entering SAT scores vs. in-major GPA for four years of graduating students at the University of Oregon.  The authors report a fairly low correlation coeffecient (0.35 to 0.5), with a long left tail in SAT scores.  The latter strongly implies that university success is not well-predicted by the SATs. They also find a high correlation (0.75!) between SAT and GRE scores.

It's a very nice analysis, and a reminder that standardized testing is an excellent way to measure how well someone can perform on standardized tests.


I have a really uncanny ability to adapt to whatever assessment the teachers decide to give me.  It's saved my grades many times lol.

Yup. From my own experience, I had very good SAT scores (99th percentile Verbal, 96th percentile Math, IIRC), but my final GPA in undergrad was somewhat less than stellar.
I blame lack of motivation (read: abject ennui) regarding some of the required core classes. My GPA in my major classes was 3.9.
This was also about the time I discovered beer and  free-thinking coeds, which may also have had something to do with the disparity.

Yeah, it's a pity we have to rely so much on "standardized testing" when the world is just NOT standardized at all.

Each person has their strengths and weaknesses, for instance, I could always do fairly well in spelling bees, as long as I spelled the word out loud; but if I wrote it down, it'd look stupid and wrong, so I would "correct it" and it would THEN be wrong.   oh wel.....

.  Lies, damned lies, and standardized tests. :)  (Apologies to Mr. Clemens)

Yes indeed.

"almost any student admitted to university can achieve academic success, if they work hard enough"

Could you say a bit more about SAT & GRE, you'll be more familiar with them than I.


Oh, sorry, Lemonie.  The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is one of two standardized tests in the U.S. administered to high school students and used as part of the undergraduate application (and filtering) process.  The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is the standardized test used as part of application to graduate school (Masters and Ph.D. programs). 

You should be able to find much more information about both of them on Wikipedia by searching for the acronyms directly.

Yes I could search for them, but as you may have taken these I thought you could give some insight to the effect of "It's a set of questions like () for example". But standardised says enough really. Your closing comment is it.


When I took them they were the usual machine-graded, multiple-choice, fill-in-the-bubbles test.  Both are divided into subjects (math, English, etc.).  I understand the that SAT now includes an essay component which actually gets read by a human being somewhere.

Ah, multi-guess, where you're guaranteed to score something through probability alone and since someone has printed the right answer on the paper you might not need to guess too randomly.
It's lazy, but you can save time & money on marking them.
We're back to punch-cards here I think - same principle?