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    Percentage of skaters who pass tests

    Does anyone know the percentages of skaters who pass the different levels of USFSA tests? This statement is on the USFSA website:

    In a typical year, approximately 40,000 U.S. Figure Skating test levels are completed by athletes; of those, about 1,300, or 3 percent, are at the gold or senior level.
    Are there statistics available for other levels as well?

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    Not online, as far as I know. You could try contacting Headquarters and asking if they can find that information for you.

    For a rough estimate, you could compare the Gold/Senior Tests Passed data to the All Tests Passed (sorted by club) for any given month at the link where it seems you got that quote from:
    https://www.usfigureskating.org/Athletes.asp?id=465

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    Are you a USFS Member? The numbers of all tests taken and passed are published annually (or at least have been recently) in the report of the Technical Group prior to Governing Council. There is a Governing Council section in Members Only that has the meeting book and committee reports. I'm not sure the reason they haven't put it on the public website, so I'm not sure what I should share.

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    Not sure what you're looking for.

    The percentage of all tests taken that actually pass? (broken down by level?) This would be what RFOS is referring to.

    Or are you looking for the percentage of all passing tests that are passed at each level? That you could get on a monthly basis from the links I point to, although the information isn't in an easy format to work with for that purpose. Someone who can query the database directly would be able to answer more easily.

    Or the percentage of all tests taken that are taken at each level? I'm sure aggregate numbers won't be published anywhere. If you could find clubs that list their test schedules online before the test session, you could note how many of each test are scheduled. Comparing 10 or more, preferably much more, different test sessions could allow you to estimate. But again it would be a lot of work -- maybe someone with access to the database could give you the aggregate numbers for a year.

    ETA: After looking at the report RFOS mentions, I see that you could derive the answers to the latter two questions from that as well, more easily than by the do-it-yourself methods I suggested.
    Last edited by gkelly; 07-09-2013 at 09:21 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFOS View Post
    Are you a USFS Member? The numbers of all tests taken and passed are published annually (or at least have been recently) in the report of the Technical Group prior to Governing Council. There is a Governing Council section in Members Only that has the meeting book and committee reports. I'm not sure the reason they haven't put it on the public website, so I'm not sure what I should share.
    Thank you for this info - I was generally interested in the 3% figure for senior, and wondered if it's 5% for junior, 10% for novice, etc etc, but this particular file breaks it out in even more detail. What I find interesting is that it shows # of retries country-wide, so you can see how hard the tests you've taken actually are (like if there is a high retry rate.) Intriguing is that the Novice MIF test has the highest failure rate overall (less than half of all tests are passing!) Here are the general numbers of passing percentages for each level:

    MIF
    Pre-pre 97.89%
    Pre 89.24%
    Pre-juv 69.50%
    Juv 76.58%
    Int 65.82%
    Int Supp 96.43%
    Nov 49.16%
    Jr 50.47%
    Sr 60.97%
    Sr Supp 65.75%

    The Free Skate rates are a bit higher; the lowest pass rate is Novice at 60.45%. Junior Free skate is 68.85%. Senior Free skate is 63.84%.

    Pre-pre is the highest percentage passed for MIF and Free Skate. I was surprised at the Novice percentages. One would think that Senior would have the lowest pass rate.

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    If you see a lot of testing, actually those numbers are pretty much what I would have guessed. Novice & Junior are definitely the toughest to get through for moves, & senior does seem to be easier.

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    Novice and Junior moves introduce new difficult skills (counters, rockers, loops) and require more quickness at speed in both directions than seen at earlier levels. Senior uses all those skills in some more difficult combinations, but the actual skills aren't new.

    Similarly, with freeskating, the most difficult thing at novice level seems to be the double-double combination. Once a skater has that skill, they probably still have it when they take the junior and senior tests, and it's probably harder to do consistently than a double flip or lutz in isolation, which are the new jump skills at those levels.

    I remember that flying sit used to be a trouble point on the junior test, but these days it only requires a flying spin, so those who can't get the sit position in the air have other options.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leafygreens View Post
    I was surprised at the Novice percentages. One would think that Senior would have the lowest pass rate.
    I'm not really surprised. Very few people even attempt senior, so I would think those who do are somewhat prepared. Those who can't cut it, just aren't skating anymore.

    On the other side, my experience is that most kids can make it to pre-juv fairly easily, work a bit for juvenile, and then are shocked at how hard novice is (which means it is a high drop-out rate at this level- so they never even make it to attempt junior or senior). It really is a whole new standard (which being the first level at 'big nationals' kind of makes sense, novice is the introduction to the big leagues.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    Novice and Junior moves introduce new difficult skills (counters, rockers, loops) and require more quickness at speed in both directions than seen at earlier levels. Senior uses all those skills in some more difficult combinations, but the actual skills aren't new.
    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    I'm not really surprised. Very few people even attempt senior, so I would think those who do are somewhat prepared. Those who can't cut it, just aren't skating anymore.

    On the other side, my experience is that most kids can make it to pre-juv fairly easily, work a bit for juvenile, and then are shocked at how hard novice is (which means it is a high drop-out rate at this level- so they never even make it to attempt junior or senior). It really is a whole new standard (which being the first level at 'big nationals' kind of makes sense, novice is the introduction to the big leagues.)
    This makes sense, but I wonder why the gap between Int/Nov is so large. The gap was supposed to become closer with the new Intermediate test. Maybe it still is not enough to prepare kids for the high Novice standard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leafygreens View Post
    This makes sense, but I wonder why the gap between Int/Nov is so large. The gap was supposed to become closer with the new Intermediate test. Maybe it still is not enough to prepare kids for the high Novice standard.
    The only thing in the new intermediate test that would really prepare skaters more for the new novice is the forward twizzles.

    The other addition is the spiral sequence, which replaces the old novice spirals. If the novice move still existed, the intermediate move would help prepare skaters for it, but it doesn't. There's just the intermediate move, which is probably comparable difficulty to the novice one but not held to quite so high a standard.

    The perimeter stroking with power threes is gone, which used to prepare skaters for the first two novice perimeter moves, but since the turns from those have been combined into one shorter but more intense move there's no preparation for it in intermediate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    The perimeter stroking with power threes is gone, which used to prepare skaters for the first two novice perimeter moves, but since the turns from those have been combined into one shorter but more intense move there's no preparation for it in intermediate.
    Not too many things seem to prepare you for the combination of quickness required on both open-hipped and closed-hipped moves .

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    To expand on leafygreens' data, here are the passing percentages for the adult MIF tests:

    Pre-Bronze - 97.76%
    Bronze - 86.27%
    Silver - 58%
    Gold - 44.32%

    The passing rates for Silver and Gold seem out of line (much lower) than the passing rates for the comparable standard track tests (Pre-Juv and Juv). Is that because adults get more nervous and are more mistake-prone, or are the judges too inconsistent (or demanding) in their expectations for adult skaters? Or....?

    What's even more surprising are the differences in passing rates when broken down by section: Pre-Bronze is pretty uniform across all 3 sections, but starting with Bronze, there are significant variations - nearly 20 percentage points between the highest and lowest rate. Why should there be such a large variation? Is the communication to judges about expectations and scoring guidelines for the adult tests not consistent across the U.S.?

    And as an adult skater in the Eastern section planning to test Gold MIF soon, the 39% pass rate is not encouraging. Pacs is nearly 60%, should I fly out to CA to test? (only partly joking)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Debbie S View Post
    The passing rates for Silver and Gold seem out of line (much lower) than the passing rates for the comparable standard track tests (Pre-Juv and Juv). Is that because adults get more nervous and are more mistake-prone, or are the judges too inconsistent (or demanding) in their expectations for adult skaters? Or....?
    Several other suggestions.
    By the time kids are testing juvenile/intermediate, the majority of them are skating several sessions a day. Most adults don't get out on the ice that regularly and that in turn makes it harder to develop the second-nature confidence younger skaters have in moves and programs. The more you do them, the easier they get and that's not as easy to accomplish when skating takes a back seat to work and life.
    When you start skating as an adult, some of the gold moves are the equivalent of novice/junior in terms of how hard it is for adults to master them & how long that process takes.

    As for passing standards, some rinks/clubs are harder than others. I'd ask around and see what other skaters & coaches at your rink think.

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    There's no reliable way to measure this, but I wonder how many of the fails are skaters who were truly qualified to take the test, and how many were skaters who failed because they really weren't ready but insisted on taking the test anyway (or whose coaches or parents insisted that they take it).
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    There's no reliable way to measure this, but I wonder how many of the fails are skaters who were truly qualified to take the test, and how many were skaters who failed because they really weren't ready but insisted on taking the test anyway (or whose coaches or parents insisted that they take it).
    Even having a coach and judge tell you that you are ready, does not mean you will pass the test. Obviously you need to do the test flawlessly, but I also believe there is a certain amount of luck involved with getting judges who don't fail everyone. There are plenty of examples of unfair fails.

    I have heard of two skaters who took Novice MIF 10 times each. One skater had taken the old test and one skater was taking the new test. Maybe 10 times is extreme and the result of a pushy parent, but 3-5 times seems to be "the norm" for the higher level tests (at least from the skaters and coaches I've talked with.)

    IMO, if you pass a higher level on the first try, it is luck, the judges are feeling happy, or you are already skating several levels above that test. My coach told me that in the days of figures, the judging community was so small that you always had the same judges and they wouldn't "let" you pass on the first try, ever. I think she took her higher figures up to 4 times each before passing. Maybe that is still true today, to an extent.

    I don't think a coach would test someone who isn't ready. It may reflect badly on them. They want to have passing students.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leafygreens View Post
    Even having a coach and judge tell you that you are ready, does not mean you will pass the test. Obviously you need to do the test flawlessly, but I also believe there is a certain amount of luck involved with getting judges who don't fail everyone. There are plenty of examples of unfair fails.
    No test needs to be absolutely flawless to pass, and no judge retries ("fails") everyone. Some have higher standards than others but I don't know any who enjoy retrying tests, but they have to uphold their standards. There has been an effort to teach consistent standards at Judges Seminars in recent years, but obviously there is still subjectivity and individual (and possibly geographical) variation. How are you judging that the "fails" were unfair? If you're going by what the skater's coach tells you after a retry, that may not be the most objective source. I'm also guessing that you don't have as much technical knowledge as the judges who judged the test and they'd be in a better position to determine what is passing and not at each level.

    Quote Originally Posted by leafygreens View Post
    I have heard of two skaters who took Novice MIF 10 times each. One skater had taken the old test and one skater was taking the new test. Maybe 10 times is extreme and the result of a pushy parent, but 3-5 times seems to be "the norm" for the higher level tests (at least from the skaters and coaches I've talked with.)
    I don't know where you are located but based on the statistics provided, 3-5 times isn't average nationwide, or across any of the sections as a whole, since more than half of tests all tests taken pass at almost all levels. However, the high level tests can definitely be difficult for recreational skaters and it's not uncommon for it to take multiple tries, but the standard needs to be upheld.

    Quote Originally Posted by leafygreens View Post
    IMO, if you pass a higher level on the first try, it is luck, the judges are feeling happy, or you are already skating several levels above that test. My coach told me that in the days of figures, the judging community was so small that you always had the same judges and they wouldn't "let" you pass on the first try, ever. I think she took her higher figures up to 4 times each before passing. Maybe that is still true today, to an extent.
    I wasn't around in the figures era but I do know that the standard was much, much higher for figures than for moves in the field.

    Quote Originally Posted by leafygreens View Post
    I don't think a coach would test someone who isn't ready. It may reflect badly on them. They want to have passing students.
    They might think their skaters are ready but obviously the numbers say that the judges feel otherwise sometimes. You seem to be just assuming that it is the judges who are always at fault, and I'm not sure where you got that mentality, but it's unfortunate that so many are "afraid" of judges or blame them for everything. Judges aren't perfect, but neither are coaches or skaters.

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    Sometimes the standard for passing a MIF test involves more than just being able to execute the moves. My daughter failed her Intermediate MIF the first time by .1, and was not given any reskates. I was able to ask one of the judges about it later, specifically why, if she was that close, did they not ask for a reskate? He replied that her moves were fine, she had made no mistakes, but her overall skating was not yet up to par. In other words, they didn't think she "looked like an Intermediate skater". She passed on the 2nd try, after she had grown stronger, and skated the test with more power and assurance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leafygreens View Post
    I don't think a coach would test someone who isn't ready. It may reflect badly on them. They want to have passing students.
    Coaches themselves might not, but once you get to higher tests, you also have older students who sometimes make those decisions on their own, i.e. infamous story of Kwan taking Senior MITF behind Caroll's back. I don't know too many 8-year olds skating at pre-juv who know their coach's USFA number, but there are quite a few 12+ year olds at my rinks who fill out their own test forms regularly at intermediate and above. Only takes one additional step to actually hand in that form, without a coach approving it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clarice View Post
    Sometimes the standard for passing a MIF test involves more than just being able to execute the moves. My daughter failed her Intermediate MIF the first time by .1, and was not given any reskates. I was able to ask one of the judges about it later, specifically why, if she was that close, did they not ask for a reskate? He replied that her moves were fine, she had made no mistakes, but her overall skating was not yet up to par. In other words, they didn't think she "looked like an Intermediate skater".
    Judges aren't supposed to fail tests by 0.1. According to the test judging manual,

    Do not “retry” a test because your score is short by 0.1 points. If you
    feel that the overall test has met the requirements and is passing, examine the test
    sheet to determine which mark could be marked 0.1 higher to reflect the right overall
    outcome. If you are confident that the test is not passing, decrease a mark for some
    facet of the test to reach a total deficiency of 0.2 points. When you are in doubt, ask for
    a reskate for a particular element or give the benefit of the doubt to the skater.
    Of course, it's possible a judge could make a mistake in the math and the test session could be running so quickly that there's no time to reevaluate the numbers.

    And yes, the higher the level of the test, the more quality counts and not just getting the move executed.

    Quote Originally Posted by ioana View Post
    Coaches themselves might not, but once you get to higher tests, you also have older students who sometimes make those decisions on their own, i.e. infamous story of Kwan taking Senior MITF behind Caroll's back.
    It was the senior freeskate. There were no MITF in 1992; the only prequisites for the senior freeskate test were 4th figure test (which was also prereq for novice and junior free) and junior freeskate.

    And the point of the story was that taking the test meant she was required to compete senior. I doubt a coach would mind much in today's context if a skater test ahead in moves without explicit approval from the coach.

    I have, however, heard of instances where coaches actually thanked judges for retrying a test that they didn't think the skater should have taken. And at least one where the coach was annoyed that the skater passed even though the coach didn't think she was ready.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    I doubt a coach would mind much in today's context if a skater test ahead in moves without explicit approval from the coach.
    I didn't mean to imply a coach would mind that much, just that there could be an additional disconnect. It's not just coaches and judges being on the same page for these tests. Sometimes older students have a mind of their own, which is not always the same as the coach's. MITF wouldn't impact the level you are competing at like a freestyle test would (thanks for correcting that, btw!), but it could be an additional factor for higher failure rates at advanced tests.

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