Tuesday, March 11

There's a new SAT in town

After hearing all the recent talk about the revisions to the Scholastic Aptitude Test I was interested in finding out what my friend The Tutor thought. I invited him to meet at a local coffee shop for breakfast.

It didn't take long to glean his opinion.

"They are simplifying the words!" he said angrily waving a copy of The New York Times under my nose.  "Instead of real SAT words like deprecatory or membranous, the vocabulary words on the new exam will be easy ones like synthesis and empirical."

"Well, those seem like difficult words too," I said.

"'Empirical my ass!" he hissed. "They might as well ask them the meaning of 'Yo' and 'Dude'. This is as bad as when they took out the word analogies. Remember that?"

"Sure," I said, unsure.

"Dog is to animal as flake is to...?" he test-questioned me.


"That's a guess! You'd get points off for that!" He lowered his voice in disgust. "Until now!" He stabbed at the newspaper with his finger. "But NEWS FLASH! The guessing penalty is being eliminated. Eliminated!"

"I always thought the guessing penalty was a little harsh," I ventured.

"Harsh! Ha! They might as well tell the little beggars to answer every question with choice C!" He shook his head and muttered, "No guessing penalty..."

As someone who usually answered any bewildering question with choice C, I thought it best to change the subject.

"I always had trouble with the essay," I began.

"OPTIONAL!" he cried. "They made the essay optional!"

"Outrageous," I agreed, remembering the feeble score I got on my SAT essay, "Holden Caufield: Why can't he just do what he's told?"

"And even if they do somehow decide to write an essay, they will be," here he quoted from The Times, "'...asked to read a passage...'" He snorted. "They might as well have someone come in and write the essay for them.  What about form? What about function? What about," he lower his voice and spoke these words as a prayer, "critical thinking?"

I shook my head ponderously. "Can't forget the critical thinking, my friend," I said, then switched to my best evangelist voice.  "There lies damnation."

"You can kid all you want, but this is just the first step down the road to the Triumph of the Ignorati."

"Then we better place our order in a hurry. I'm having coffee and a doughnut. What do you want?" 

"Oh, I'll have tea and, let's see, coffee is to tea as doughnut is to..." He pondered a moment. "A croissant I guess. "

"Yo, dude," I said brightly, "there's no penalty for guessing."

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