Standardized Aptitude Torture

Okay, real talk.

Standardized testing is the most concentrated source of stress in my life, and I’m not alone. For high schoolers looking to go to college, there’s always that vague air of dread at the cellular level: the twisting in your stomach when you wonder if you’re doing enough, if you’ll be jobless in 6 years with no way to pay off your tank full of debt. The tests, though, they concentrate that unapproachable panic into a concrete number, a label, and suddenly you’re questioning how much of yourself is represented in a shit essay and a Scantron.

It’s so easy to get caught up in those scores; when they’re released two and a half weeks later, the halls are a flurry of “what’d you get?” and “shit, I have to take it again” and “my parents are gonna kill me.”

It takes a lot to separate yourself from it. It’s hard to remember that you are not your score, regardless of how good or bad it is.

The test itself is arbitrary to the point of ridiculous – I can do college algebra, honors trigonometry, and calculus, but none of these disciplines prepared me for the effed up realm of College Board math. And who thinks testing on idioms is a good idea? Language is composed of made-up rules that don’t hold true everywhere (case in point: constructed of or constructed from? Nobody seems to know.) And why is it so important to be able to analyze irrelevant stories on a level so deep we’re venturing into the 9th circle of Hell? All questions I have for the people with the biggest monopoly on higher ed: College Board.

I’m not a fan of the huge price tags attached to making yourself a more attractive candidate for college admissions. In many cases, the only way to get a better score on the SAT is to invest in practice books, online courses, or tutors, putting kids who can’t afford it at a massive disadvantage.

And more than anything, I loathe the premise of it all. The SAT is a test on how well you can take a test. Some of the smartest people I know are, very simply, awful at testing. That’s not the way their brains work, so shoving them into a room with a bunch of sweaty teenagers and a strict timing system is their worst nightmare. The lucky ones are quick readers, bullshit artists that know their way around a #2 pencil; just because they’re lucky doesn’t mean they’re real-life, bona-fide geniuses.

That’s why the SAT really, truly sucks.

Also, 4+ hours of staring at a stupid booklet has you spelling “buttocks” with an “x” and adding 4 and 2 into 8 but that’s probably no big deal.

Until next time, keep your boots in the stars and your heart in the trees.

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