Saw a piece on the news the other night about parents spending thousands of dollars getting their kids ready to take the SAT. Before I entered college in California, circa 1965, I took the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and the ACT (American College Testing). I spent zero money and zero time getting ready, just showed up at the appointed place and time and armed with a couple of #2 pencils as instructed. The results proved what I could, and would, have told them if they’d bothered to ask. My grammar sucked and I was almost a total idiot when it came to math and classical literature. I made it through English Literature in high school courtesy of Classic Comic Books which were thankfully available at the Corner Rexall Pharmacy.
After getting my BA and before student teaching I had to take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) which supposedly tested the knowledge I had acquired in my four years of higher education. The results showed my grammar and writing skills had improved but I remained math deficient and still though Beowulf was a hairy creature in a Lon Chaney, Jr. film. I had also moved on to a higher class of crib sheet, Cliff’s Notes.
College entrance exams have always been controversial and I have only become more convinced they prove little about a students potential to do well in college. But regardless of what I think they remain as important as ever for getting into the best schools and preparing students to do well on them has become a multi-billion dollar business. Given that I wouldn’t expect to see them go the way of the dinosaur.
By the way, the GRE was one tough test. I sat in a room full of students, sitting quietly at their desks and marking answers with the several pencils they had brought with them. About a third of the way through the exam I heard a fellow begin mumbling just above his breath. The mumbles gave way to a few four letter beauties which resulted in the f-bomb being dropped, his pencils broken into splinters and thrown to the floor, and him slamming the door on his way out, thank you very much! Apparently even after four years of college some people don’t test well.