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No Wonder My SAT Scores Were So Low

008Recently, a newspaper article got my attention. David Coleman, president of the College Board, criticized his own test, the SAT, for tests that are mysterious and “filled with unproductive anxiety.”

Well, it’s about time. Talk about anxiety. What else is more anxiety-ridden than taking the SAT?

The SAT people are finally doing a fundamental rethinking of their test. I wish they’d done that before I took mine. Because of my SAT score, I was denied consideration into Harvard and Yale. So low, I was even on the bubble with my community college.

For starters, they say they’re planning to end the long-standing penalty for guessing wrong.  No wonder I scored so poorly back then. How nice it would be to take my test today and not get docked points for using my blanket guessing strategy.

Next, they say they’re going to challenge students with better vocabulary words, ones more commonly used in college courses, like empirical and synthesis. Well, it’s about time. I use empirical and synthesis at least six times a day, even in colloquial conversation out on the street.

Lastly – and this is the kicker – they’re actually going to make the essay optional.  Are they kidding? That’s no fair. My essay destroyed me. They’re even considering not allowing use of a calculator on some of the math sections. That seems only fair to people like me who, at the time, couldn’t figure out how to use the calculator. Now we’re all on equal footing.

For a multitude of reasons, test-taking was hell for me. As I looked around the room during any test I’ve ever taken, I perceived everyone else as smart, and me as the guy who wasn’t up to snuff. In hindsight, many of those students may have felt the same way as I. Perhaps most. Were you one of them?

Taking tests has always been difficult for me. I wrote about my hair-pulling experiences (though hilarious now) in Chapter 8, “Education,” of my memoir, Maybe Boomer. Perhaps the ultimate test of tests was one I took recently, an aptitude test. Sample a passage from that humbling experience in Excerpts under Chapter 14, “Relativity.”

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