Swedish equivalent of SAT.
In general there are two ways to get accepted to a Swedish university, you can use the regular grades from gymnasiet (non-compulsory school for students between 16 and 19 years of age) or you can use the Högskoleprov (henceforth known as HP). The general rule is that a university has to admit one third of its students based on the HP and the rest based on grades. The test is given twice per year (on Saturdays) and it requires approximately eight hours, including breaks. The result is valid for five years, the best result counts if you have done the test more than once. In addition to the standard test there are versions for dyslectics and people with impaired vision.
Structure of the Test
The test is divided into five parts.
DTK: Analyzation of diagrams, tables and maps. 50 minutes, 20 questions with five alternatives each. A typical question could be to look at a diagram and find the number of persons in a certain age bracket.
ELF: English reading comprehension. 35 minutes, 20 question with four alternatives each.
ORD: Swedish vocabulary. 15 minutes, 40 questions with five alternatives each.
LÄS: Swedish reading comprehension. 50 minutes, 20 questions with four alternatives each.
NOG: Mathematical and logical problems. 50 minutes, 22 question with five alternatives each. A problem and two statements (A and B) are given. The question is whether the problem can be solved with the info in A and B, A or B, A but not B, B but not A or if the problem can’t be solved at all.
The maximum score is 122, but it’s recalculated into a standardized score between 0.0 and 2.0. Over time the distribution of standardized values is to be constant so that a certain score keeps its value (the main problem with the Swedish grade system at this point). Each time approximately 40000 (figure of 2004) Swedes take the test and the average standardized score is close to 1.0 (in October 1996 it was 0.96; in April 2004 it was 0.94). Following is the distribution of standardized scores from April 2004.
Standardized Score: 0.0, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, 1.0
Percentage: 2.1, 3.6, 2.9, 3.6, 4.4, 4.8, 5.6, 7.7, 8.1, 7.8, 7.9
Standardized Score: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, 2.0
Percentage: 7.4, 6.8, 6.2, 6.4, 4.4, 4.1, 2.5, 1.7, 1.1, 0.9
This distribution is specific to the test mentioned, but it is a good representation
of the general distribution. Fun fact
: From when the test was created in 1977 and until 2003, 1.7 million tests have been conducted; four of these had no errors.
Validity of the Score
The HP is a bit like an IQ test in that its result only measures the ability to take the test and doesn’t really say as much as grades on whether the student will be able to successfully conduct university studies. However, its validity can’t be completely ignored. The ability to focus on a task under stressful conditions, the ability to quickly gather information from texts and other sources, and the ability to quickly see which information is required to solve a problem can all be considered very important for successful university studies. Research concerning whether the result on the HP predicts the results of university studies have been conducted, but the results are inconclusive. The same can be said for the general grades.
My own Experiences with the HP
I have taken the test twice, in 1996 and in 2004. 1996 was my last year at gymnasiet and my grades, although not bad, wouldn’t let me be admitted to my education of choice. Some people at my school had already taken the test and there was a rumor about someone who had managed the near-impossible task of getting 1.9. He was generally considered to be amazingly bright and also a nice person. In addition he was something of an athlete, playing handball at a semi-professional level. All in all, the perfect human being. I had heard that one shouldn’t expect to do well the first time, and that the score would improve over the first three or four tries, so I went in expecting to do somewhere between 1.0 and 1.5.
Imagine my surprise when I managed to attain 2.0 with two points to spare (114 out of the maximum 122). Naturally I quickly stopped to make an effort in my studies and my grades dropped a bit further. The other result was that I became known as “Erik, 2.0”, which was nice since people suddenly had an enormous amount of respect for my intellect. My ego grew a few sizes by this and a girl started noticing me. This led to a fairly happy relationship.
Then I went to university. In all previous levels of education I had had no need to study to attain good grades. General laziness and this inability to study made it extremely hard for me to pass any exams; I failed every math exam the first year, some more than once. Since the majority of my courses was heavily math based these didn’t go any better. However, with the knowledge that my results were caused by poor attitude more than lacking intellect I refused to drop out when most would have.
With my failure as a university student my self esteem dropped and I stopped considering myself as one of Gods brightest. My girlfriend (at this time my fiancée) eventually got tired of the prodigy-turned-lazy bum that was me and the relationship ended, leaving me with quite a few failed plans for the future and no self esteem to speak of. Since my old test had stopped being valid (amongst other reasons) I took the test again in April 2004. To say that I was in emotional turmoil the day of the test would be an understatement, this was recently after the break-up and my life was in general a chaos. I was also quite certain that my young, speedy brain had gone down the drain. Experience is nice, but it doesn’t help when you’re required to do some fast reading.
So, how did it turn out you wonder? Another 2.0, (with only five errors this time), thus reaffirming my belief in myself as an intellectual behemoth. Surprisingly, my exam results improved considerably and I am at this point quite close to finish my education.
All in all, the HP doesn’t say anything about ones abilities as a student, but it sure is a nice ego boost!
Facts from: http://www.umu.se/edmeas/hprov/index.html and my own eventful life.