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Survey Says...

August 30, 2017

 

Surveys can be great for gathering data; the SAT itself could even be considered a survey.

 

With the switch to the present format in March of 2016, the SAT has repeatedly asked questions involving surveys. See January 2017 Section 4 Q26, April 2017 Section 4 Q10, or May 2017 Section 4 Q25 for some examples.

 

Students are expected to understand sample size, inherent bias, and margin of error. They need to know that where a survey is conducted could produce biased results. A playground, for instance, is biased towards families with children. A truly representative sample will feature enough participants from across the entire population.

 

Questions require students to distinguish what must be true from what simply could be true. This concept of must versus could is commonly tested. Students can answer these questions by "rooting against" answers in MUST scenarios and "rooting for" answers in COULD scenarios. Try to make the answer choice fail in order to eliminate when the word MUST is in the prompt; try to make the answer choice work when the word COULD is in the prompt.

 

When it comes to margin of error students need to understand how that may limit the conclusiveness of the poll. If the election poll had Candidate A favored 50.7% to 49.1% with a +-2% margin of error, it would NOT be conclusive that A is ahead of B. Students have not been required to calculate margin of error.

 

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