The MAT Basics sheet is a good place to look for in-depth information on Miller Analogies Test score interpretation. Starting on page 10, it covers most topics having to do with score interpretation. Let’s go over some of the key points.
Raw score to scaled score
Out of 120 questions (or items), only 100 of the questions count towards your score. The amount of questions you answer correctly out 100 is called your raw score. In the past, the MAT would use the raw score to compare students. Since 2004, they have started using the scaled score.
The scaled score, a number between 200-600, supposedly allows for better comparisons between students. After completing the MAT, your raw score is put through a conversion table which converts it to a scaled score. Your final score report will show only your MAT scaled score and your MAT percentile ranking.
From 2004-2007, Pearson collected the scores of all first time MAT test takers. This 3-year pool of students is referred to as the norm group. Your percentile ranking is based on how you compare to this group of students.
The MAT has a normal distribution of scores, also known as a bell curve. This is a statistical way of saying that nearly all test scores cluster around the same score range: 400 or the 50th percentile. Scoring just a few scaled points above 400 leads to surprisingly big increases in percentile rankings; again, this is because it is rare to score above 400.
How schools interpret your score
There are two main ways I can assess a student’s preparation through exams:
- Test them on the actual content and skills that I think are the foundation for what comes next.
- Test cognitive abilities that I think directly predict success in what comes next.
It’s not a black and white split, but the GRE and GMAT lean towards the first, and the MAT is closer to the latter.
For the GRE and the GMAT, you could argue that many of the skills you are displaying directly in the reading comprehension, writing, or quantitative reasoning sections of those exams are similar to tasks you will actually replicate in the classroom. It would be hard to say the same thing for the MAT.
The MAT is much more of an aptitude test then the others (though they also test aptitude to a degree). While it does test a lot of content knowledge, its main goal is to assess your cognitive abilities in terms of critical thinking, induction, and logic. The idea is that if you possess high ability in these, it will transfer to all the academic subjects.
Colleges, however, know to take this with a grain of salt. While they use the MAT to help quantify how easily you will progress through more difficult coursework. It is definitely just one part of the puzzle. The MAT Basics sheet even advises colleges not to rely too heavily on MAT scores.