Wednesday, February 09, 2005

How to Ace the New SATs

The SATs have added an essay question and there is a story on it in the Washington Post. Here is a paragraph concerning the grading criterion for a question where the student was asked to either defend or argue against the value of secrecy:

"An essay that does little more than restate the question gets a 1. An essay that compares humans to squirrels -- if a squirrel told other squirrels about its food store, it would die, therefore secrecy is necessary for survival -- merits a 5 [a good score]. Brian A. Bremen, an English professor at the University of Texas at Austin, notes that the writer provides only one real example. Nevertheless, he says, the writer displays "a clear chain of thought" and should be rewarded, "despite his Republican tendencies."

How absolutely beneficent of the good professor to reward the student "despite his Republican tendencies." But somehow I doubt that will hold up over time. If I were a student taking the SATs, in answering any essay question I got, I'd find a way, no matter what the topic, to insert something about being a cross-dressing multi-racial bisexual who eschews organized religion (but nevertheless consider myself to be very spiritual) - 1600 and Harvard here I come.

I remember taking the Achievement Tests, some offshoot of the SAT, which required me to write an essay considering the following quote: "The more things change, the more they stay the same." Here is how I should have responded:

"Despite all of the so-called progress with respect to tolerance in Amerika, I can tell you first hand that it is no picnic being a cross-dressing multi-racial bisexual in suburbia. When I came out of the closet in my high school, dressed from head to toe in a beautiful black Versace gown and Dolce Gabbana shoes, I can tell you right away that the Student Christian Group jeered uncontrollably; I was so upset that I had to skip my yoga meditation class after school. Sometimes I wish I lived in France, where my unshaved armpits would not look out of place in a good sleeveless dress. Despite all of the progress that was made by brave youths in the sixties, Amerika is still a fascist intolerant nation - the more things change, the more they stay the same. Sometimes I wonder what in the hell my parents were thinking when they left Cuba. P.S. I have a poster of Che Guevera in my room - he is my hero."


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