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Something you may want to know about the SAT

     There are two well-known SAT tests–the Stanford Achievement Test, a standardized test given to elementary and high school students; and the Scholastic Aptitude Test, given to college applicants. Most homeschooled students who want to go to college have to take the SAT (or the ACT). In the June 2, 2007, issue of World Magazine, Janie B. Cheney wrote concerning the latter, "Once upon a time good grades, recommendations, and an application essay weighed equally with test scores on college applications. But today, increasing mechanization of the process has made the SAT (or ACT) the major factor in whether students are accepted by the university of their choice." Mrs. Cheney pointed out that because of this fact the College Board, which is the sponsor and administrator of the formerly all multiple-choice SAT, added an essay portion under the assumption that a modern-day student who scores high on the essay must surely be well-rounded college material. However, in an informal experiment by Les Perelman of MIT, Perelman coached an eighteen-year-old college applicant in the essay portion of the SAT and saw that student earn a score of five, which is one point shy of perfect, by following the guidelines to the letter–using appropriate vocabulary, demonstrating variety in sentence structure, and avoiding most errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics. Yet, the essay was also riddled with historical errors and sloppy reasoning, for example, claiming that the impetus behind Franklin Delanor (sic) Roosevelt’s New Deal was economic competition with Russia which had driven the U. S. economy to ruin. Cheney noted, "His point was that standardizing the essay forces student composition in to a narrow range of skills that emphasize style at the cost of substance, and divorce an argument’s methods from its value. Far from indicating a student’s ability, they actually harm that ability. This at a time freshman composition classes nationwide are swamped with remedial writing students."


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