A Guide to Percentile Ranking in Education

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When people take standardized tests like board exams and college admissions tests, a set of scores are usually released, along with a report. Certain institutions may require percentile scores to qualify for admission or to determine whether a student will qualify for some type of grant or assistance.

Young students will most likely be required to take achievement tests at a certain point in their schooling, and exam scores will most likely be presented in percentile rank.  

Percentile rank scores provide a picture of a child’s ability relative to his or her peers. It can help parents determine their child’s abilities and areas where they will need help.

What are Percentage Scores 

These are the scores that a student will receive after taking a test for a class. It gives a glimpse of student’s understanding of a subject matter. Percentage scores are usually computed by dividing the number of correct answers by the total number of questions in the exam.

Percentage scores are limited to providing information about an individual student’s performance in one exam whereas percentile ranks provide some form of comparison between the student and his or her peers.

What are Percentile Ranks

When a student takes a standardized test, the results are presented in percentile ranking format. Percentile rank scores are important because they provide insight regarding how a child performed compared to other students who have taken the test. With standardized tests, it’s not so much about how many correct answers were made; it’s more about gauging where the child is at compared to the entire population of students that took the same test.  

Standard scores have an equivalent value in percentile. For instance, having an SAT score of 1200 means that you are in the 75th percentile. This means that you are part of the 75% percent of students who scored 1200 or lower. This is considered a good score.

Intelligence tests and cognitive abilities tests also provide scores in percentile ranks. Instead of focusing on the standard score, focus your attention on the percentile rank to determine how well you perform alongside others who have taken the same test. 

How Percentile Ranking Scores Are Used in the Education Setting

Standardized tests usually include components like verbal reasoning, reading comprehension, and reasoning. Scores from these tests can provide educators with valuable information about the needs of a student upon being enrolled in their institution. Educators can formulate interventions or even recommend special assistance for students who may need it.

Final Thoughts Percentile rank scores provide relevant information about the ability of students. These scores usually come from standardized and norm-referenced tests. The scores give an idea as to how a student ranks in comparison to his or her peers. These test results, although seemingly intimidating, can be interpreted using a manual.

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