The Bane of my Junior Year

So I thought I would kick off my blog by discussing the most ruthless and merciless corporation in the world: Collegeboard. This is particularly the best time because I just finished my final SAT II today!!! While this may not seem like much of an accomplishment, trust me, it is.

As my junior year comes to a close, I am reflecting on the amount of time and money I have spent behind Collegeboard – and how USELESS everything is. On the day before my SATs, I was doing one final practice test in “The Official SAT Study Guide” – I suddenly realized that if I spent one more day slaving over it, I would probably collapse. I then threw aside my study guide, more commonly known as the “big blue book.” Juniors flee and children cry at the sight of this monstrosity:

There honestly should be a warning sign at the bottom of the book, something like: “Warning: has been known to cause extreme sadness and tears.” I have written letters to them asking them to put the warning on the cover so that they wouldn’t get sued – then again, maybe I should just let it happen. I really haven’t, but I should – anyways, someone crazy enough is bound to do it someday.

Anyways, in order to get away from review and to get out all my anger, I began surfing for articles on how the SATs are awful, and I came across this one written by The Guardian titled “SATs not the answer.” Honestly, its one of the best descriptions of the SAT I’ve ever seen. I want to detail a few key points from it:

1) “Every question, no matter how simple or well-nigh impossible, counts for the same amount, so no extra credit for being  clever enough to answer the toughest questions if you are not fast enough through the easiest.”

This is kind of ridiculous – since everything is the same, if I am able (or not able) to answer a tough question, its the EXACT same penalty. Plus, the fact that there is no partial credit makes the test all the more unfair – who ever heard of a math test without partial credit?! People make calculation errors all the time – they shouldn’t be penalized so severely for them.

2) “…students actually have to pay for all this. The standard fee is $26, followed by further costs if you register late ($16), need to change your testing site ($17), want to look up your score online ($13), or a host of other likely contingencies (price varies). And this is designed to benefit underprivileged students?”

If I add up all the money I have spent on Collegeboard (including the review books and test taking courses) in the past three years, it comes out to a grand total of (well I don’t really want to add everything up right now, but trust me, it’s a LOT). This clearly hurts children that are not affluent because richer kids always have access to more resources. This post is more of a discussion on why the SATs are useless – to be honest, the AP exams and the SAT IIs are actually good because they give an accurate and a high-level assessment of what we learn in our respective courses. HOWEVER, there is no need for such high costs – for every AP exam I take, I have to pay $86. Why does it cost $86 to make one test booklet on very low-quality paper??? If Collegeboard truly is the non-profit organization that it claims it is, I really wonder where all the money goes.

3)  “SAT results are not an accurate reflection of what students have learned in school, and can have no bearing whatsoever on what students want to study”

This is 100% true – the SATs are based on NOTHING that I have learned in high school, except my ability to write an essay. Then again, these essays are so arbitrarily graded that it doesn’t even make a difference what I write – I believe that even if I spin an essay on “Monkeys Throwing Feces” to fit the prompt, I would get an adequate grade. Anyways, my point is that if anybody picks up a review book, reads it cover to cover and does all ten of the practice tests, then they would do well on it (and would also end up having absolutely no life). My point is that this is IMPOSSIBLE – with junior year already being really difficult, the SATs make it impossible for a person to do well unless they study really hard. I spent 4 hours every Sunday night for many months in order to get the score I have right now – and it made finishing everything else brutal. Plus, this really has nothing to do with what I truly know – only the subject tests are fitting.

4) Terrible Proctors

The above claim is my own observation – I do not know where our schools find the geniuses that run our exams. On two separate occasions, I have been cheated out of time on sections, which makes this test even more difficult. The time constraints are bad enough without the proctors messing everything up.

I applaud the schools that are trying to move away from the testing system – even the UCs have begun to question the usefulness of the SAT.  My complaints are in no regard to my score – they are just based on what I have observed about this ridiculous system.

To sum up, it is unfairly graded, richer kids statistically do better, it makes junior year even more difficult, and just is overall terrible. In my opinion, Collegeboard should get rid of the SATs and only have SAT Subject Tests and AP Exams as part of their system – those are the only types of exams that truly reflect a) what somebody wishes to learn and b) what somebody truly knows.

Honestly, nobody should be surprised if you find me a year from now on 45 Columbus Avenue in New York outside the Collegeboard Headquarters with a mob of angry students.

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