Ayush Ablaze (December 2011)

Quote of the month:

“I don’t believe in pessimism. If something doesn’t come up the way you want, forge ahead. If you think it’s going to rain, it will.”
-Clint Eastwood

Photo by Rohan Lewis

I took my last SAT in October; so obviously, I have the right to rant on standardized testing. Isn’t that how it works?

Everybody knows the SAT is a flawed test. Even the College Board, the administrators of the SAT, knows it is not an accurate prediction of college success the College Board says so in the prologue of every practice test book it releases annually.

Literally, the test stands for absolutely nothing. It used to stand for Scholastic Aptitude Test, until everyone realized that it doesn’t measure proficiency in any way. The College Board changed it to Scholastic Assessment Test, but that didn’t make sense either because the test doesn’t assess 99 percent of the material you learn in high school.

But I guess they loved the name, so it’s still the SAT, but it’s no longer an acronym; they call it the Official SAT Reasoning Test, which makes much more sense. After taking countless practice tests and two official ones, my opinion of the test is very mixed.

I like the idea of the SAT, that there’s a standard the entire country follows so that colleges don’t just have school grades to go by. I don’t want my grades to be on the same plane as someone who goes to school in rural Wisconsin; it wouldn’t be fair to the students of either school. The environments are so different that it warrants a constant.

The SAT provides that constant, but it has several glaring inadequacies. Let’s start chronologically: the essay. Nothing, absolutely nothing you will write during your college or professional life will be a rushed draft banged out in 25 minutes. Self-editing is a vital writing skill, one that can’t possibly be assessed in such a short period of time.

Up next is everybody’s favorite section: critical reading. Dictionaries exist; I don’t need to know what “cantankerous” means. I don’t think forcefully learning words through the use of flash cards is legitimate. People get their vocabulary through the things they read, so why can’t we keep it that way? The whole notion is rather onerous and cretinous, and won’t lead to any long-term erudition, know what I’m saying? Hopefully, you do not.

I don’t think the entire test needs change. Yes, people should know basic grammar and math, but people should not be expected to determine, and I quote directly from SAT questions, the “most correct” answer out of five responses.

There’s no need for me to get into why the SAT is demographically and financially biased, too many pieces have been written on the topic. It’s almost sad that people know these problems exist and do nothing about them.

I’ll leave all the anxious juniors out there with this message: the only thing the SAT measures is how good you are at taking the SAT, so if you want to improve your score, just keep taking practice ones.

I jumped 140 points the second time I took the SAT. Did I suddenly become 140 points smarter in the three-month period between my attempts? Nope, I just got used to pacing myself for this Saturday-ruining marathon of a test.


Ayush Kumar can be contacted at [email protected]