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Posts Tagged ‘Drew Magary’

There is some academically-oriented work that examines whether standardized tests measure intelligence, with test scores increasing with age, or knowledge, with test scores falling as one is further removed from high school or college. Most of that work isn’t funny, though. Drew Magary recently remedied that problem by taking an SAT practice test in test-like conditions and writing about the experience for Deadspin. A few highlights:

Shockingly, little about the SAT has changed since I set foot in that classroom. Most students still have to take the test using bubble sheets and a No. 2 pencil, which is insane to me. They’ve managed to digitize VOTING, for shit’s sake. And yet here’s the SAT, still feeding test sheets into the Scantron machine like it’s 1982. Maybe the only differences with today’s SAT are the essay question (barf), the higher maximum score (2400), and the hugely metastasized frenzy over the test. Wired reports that as recently as 2009, the test-preparation industry had earnings of over $4 billion. Private tutoring from a Kaplan expert to study for the test can cost you close to $5,000, an expense plenty of nutjob helicopter parents are happy to throw down.

Because I work on a computer like normal human beings, I’d forgotten how painful it can be to write in longhand for long stretches of time. I know it’s not as bad as digging trenches in the Amazon, but still—it’s AGONY. Your neck gets sore from staring down. You get that weird dent in your middle finger and thumb from pressing the pencil too hard. Everything around you starts to smell like old pencil shavings. This is why I fucking hated blue-book exams in high school and college. It wasn’t that I had to study, or that I had to think on the fly. It was the hard LABOR of it all. Every time I finished a blue-book exam in school, I felt as if I had just moved a cord of firewood. Many times, I would hurry up and try and finish the essay early, just so that I could stop writing and rest. It’s amazing, when you think about it. You spend a whole semester studying for some test, and then you rush it because you just want five extra minutes to relax. That’s how my brain works. It’s not a perfect organ.

I took my final score on this practice test and did a proportion (one more goddamn math problem) to see if my score was better than it was 19 years ago. And it was, by roughly 190 points. (I got 2140 this time. You do the math yourself.) I’m smarter than I was when I was 17, and that’s a relief, because I was a fucking MORON at 17. If you’re 35 years old and you’re thinking about retaking the SAT as a kind of blog stunt, I would highly recommend you avoid it. In fact, I would recommend that no one take the SAT ever. It’s a sternly worded dinosaur of a test, graded in an arbitrary manner with outdated equipment, and it blows. The only reason people take it is because they have to. It exists only so that preppy dipshits can brag about their scores well into adulthood if they did well. I hate it. I hope the Princeton Review gets fucked by a cattle prod.

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