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Unpacking a Confusing Eligibility Article

Now is the time of year when the attention of beat writers and bloggers turns to the eligibility of incoming freshmen prospects. This is a representative example, talking about incoming Florida men's basketball prospect Chris Walker. There is one point though that could use some clarification, specifically as it relates to Walker.

“He’s improved each time, from 13 to 16,” [high school coach Poe] White said. “So we’re hoping with a higher test score and if he finishes his courses, he’ll be ready to go.”

NCAA initial eligibility is based on a sliding scale that combines grade point average (in 16 core courses) and test scores. The minimum GPA required is 2.0 while the minimum sum test score in the ACT is 37. Walker’s scores in the ACT reflect just a partial score, not a sum score.

The sliding scale combines the two numbers by requiring a higher GPA for a lower test score and vice versa. But the scores of 13 and 16 White is talking about are probably not partial scores. They are more likely composite ACT scores. Because the NCAA uses an ACT sum score (which allows prospects to combine their best sections from different tests), many people, especially those working at high schools, translate that number to a composite score they are more familiar with.

It is by no means exact, but you can get in the ballpark of an ACT sum score by quadrupling a composite score. From there you could then figure out the required GPA for that score to get a rough idea of where an athlete stands.

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