What Are the Different Methods of Standardized Test Scoring?

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  • Written By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2019
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The different methods of standardized test scoring use percentages, averages, grade-level norms, specific performance requirements and raw scores. Most standardized tests involve the use of multiple choice questions that must be answered within a certain time frame. They are typically evaluated and scored by a computer program. Some standardized test scoring incorporates more than one method.

One of the common methods of standardized test scoring is the use of a raw score. This involves taking the number of questions that were answered incorrectly and subtracting that figure from the total amount of questions on the test. The raw score directly corresponds to the amount of questions that the test taker answered correctly.

Raw scores can be translated into percentages, with is another standardized test scoring method. Certain percentiles directly correspond to particular raw scores. These percentiles usually indicate the number of test takers who scored at or below the corresponding raw score. For example, a test taker who achieves a raw score of 45 on a section of a standardized test for entrance into college may receive a percentile of 80. This is interpreted to mean that only 20 percent of test takers scored above a 45.


Averages are another method of standardized test scoring. This type of score is usually established for different subject areas. Test takers that score above or below the average are given a score the deviates from the average. The IQ test is an example of a standardized test that uses the average method. Anything greater than 100 is considered to be an above average score.

Another example of the use of averages in standardized testing is the exams required to enter the majority of graduate degree programs. Scoring is based on an average benchmark of 500. Test takers can only deviate from that average by 300 points. The minimum score is 200 and the maximum is 800.

Grade-level averages may be expressed as percentiles or numerical figures. This method is used to show how a test taker's scores stack up against his peers. For example, standardized tests for an elementary school level student might show a percentage for each test section that indicates how many students in the same grade level scored below or above his score.

Some standardized tests are scored according to certain performance requirements. The target score may be determined and anything above or below that score would be considered to be a deviation. For example, it may be determined that a satisfactory score on an essay exam is equivalent to a score of three. Above average essays would be given a score of four or higher, while subpar submissions might be given a score of two or one.


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