This time four years ago, there was a huge, blue paperback College Board book on my desk. It sat there for months, as those three letters, S A T, menacingly stared back at me. Did I ever do a single practice exam? No. I sold it to my neighbor and probably blew the money hanging out with friends after school.
I’m sure my dad wasn’t very happy about that, but preparing for the SAT just wasn’t something I wanted to do. I wanted to get a score I deserved, not one I crammed to get.
The test was just as annoying as I had anticipated. Waking up early, still in a groggy state, I drove to my high school and did what I had to do. I wrote about some pointless topic for 25 minutes and put arbitrary numbers into formulas.
The scoring system confused me, but apparently it confused others even worse; the kid next to me accidentally skipped a bubble, sending him into a fit of erasing that took more time than we were given. Redo.
The essays were also stupid. I recall one about yawning. Really? I’m getting up at the crack of dawn to take a test that’s going to make me read about yawning? What kind of maniacal people do College Board hire? “Even reading about yawning can make you want to yawn,” it said. Thanks, SAT.
When I got my scores back, it took me a while I figure it out. The year I did them, they had just changed the procedure for no apparent reason other than to make it harder for me to figure out if I was happy or not. My final reaction – meh. Not great, not bad.
I remember my AP English teacher telling us about someone she knew who graded the writing portions during the summer. They don’t give them enough time to read them and are told to just glance it over, read the first and last sentences and give it a number. This shocked and frustrated me to the point of doing a presentation on the shortcomings of standardized testing my senior year. Apparently I was onto something.
According to fairtest.org, nearly 900 colleges are now test-optional, Clark soon to be one of them. Yep, high school you didn’t need to freak out at all. They’re pretty much pointless.
Clark’s online news hub recently issued an article about their decision to go SAT/ACT optional by fall 2013. Due to a study by the Admissions office and faculty, the school has decided to put more emphasis on the student’s performance in high school, strength of the high school, character, class rank, and outside activities.
President Angel was also quoted in the article, saying Clark’s new LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) program will work in conjunction with this decision. Don Honeman, dean of admissions and financial aid, believes that this fits well with Clark’s more hands-on approach to critical thinking and will foster students’ work and engagement with faculty and other students.
Retrospectively, I still completely agree with my position on standardized testing. It’s biased and encourages a narrowing of the curriculum. Students shouldn’t be taught to test well on a test to get them into college. They should be taught how to be engaged and think critically about real-life issues and problems. They shouldn’t study something just because it’s something on which they will be tested, and likewise, colleges shouldn’t base the enrollment process on numbers that can be skewed by so many variables.
While the argument that there needs to be some standard, measurable level of proficiency in such things as reading, writing, and math does hold some ground, there must be a better, more thorough way of understanding this aspect of a potential college student.
I’m just glad I didn’t freak myself out too much about the SAT when I took it.