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No More SATisfaction

By Beth L. Pinsker

THEY did the evil deed.

The Educational Testing Service tampered with an American icon. They changed the SAT.

Getting into college will completely change. Stanley Kaplan will probably go out of business. High school angst will have to be totally re-oriented. Scan-tron may never recover.

American culture will never be the same again.

I haven't been this disillusioned since my senior year of high school when I heard on the news that the pesticide Alar, when sprayed on apples and made into apple juice, causes cancer. What comforts a person who has just found out that she had been consuming heavy doses of carcinogens for the past 17 years?

Faced with impending doom, my only relief was tradition--I knew that there were certain things that would never change. There would always be Brady Bunch re-runs, Dick Clark would never get old and the SAT and achievement tests would create constancy in America forever.

I thought that if another childhood myth had to be corrupted, graham crackers would be the next to go. But they (the evil "they" who dispel most childhood myths) got to the SAT first.

THE only good part about the newly dubbed SAT-1 and SAT-2 is that we now know why we had to take all of those experimental sections of the old Scholastic Aptitude Test. But the drawback of the new tests is that they change the elements we identify with the most. They renamed the tests SAT-1 and SAT-2, they abolished achievement tests and they are even phasing out multiple choice.

(1)(2)(3) The new name is definitely the worst. How are the millions of future college-bound students supposed to make jokes about their new version of the SAT's? Two tests are just too confusing for good humor. Also, any change that makes "Risky Business" obsolete can't be good. All that I can foresee are a couple of sad slogans to get students interested.

"SAT-1, SAT-2--10 percent more, 10 percent harder, 10 percent better!"

"Work harder, work longer and get worse scores!"

"Don't forget to bring your calculator!"

And who can guarantee that they will stop with two tests? SAT-45 can't be that far off in the future. High school students will spend their entire junior year of high school with a number two pencil in their hands.

By getting rid of achievement tests, the ETS is striking a blow against diversity. We used to be able to choose which subjects we would actually achieve in and which we would most definitely fail. Now these Princeton sadists are telling students that they have to be good at everything.

SAT-38 will probably be a psychological exam to test for neurotic behavior in the 15-18 year old age group.

(1)(2)(3) I think that there is a lot to be said for multiple choice math tests.

(A) You don't have to have neat handwriting.

(B) You can make a pattern out of the answers.

(C) You can guess.

(D) All of the above.

WHAT baffles me the most is President Derek C. Bok's role in the SAT reform. I guess I must have been under the mistaken impression that Harvard was found of elitist, basically unexplainable traditions.

Isn't that the whole basis of the House system? Our after-Christmas exams? The admissions process? Broccoli Walnut Tofu Stir Fry?

At least we can say that we belong to a definite generation that isn't solely defined by our interest in video games and heavy metal music. I was always a little jealous of my parents who did things in college like march on Washington with Martin Luther King, watch the Kennedy-Nixon debates live and go to Beatles concerts.

Now we belong to the last of the SAT generation. It's better than being a homogenous effect of the Reagon era. It sets us apart.

I have little rational doubt that the new tests are a lot better than the one we grew up fearing. But thank God I'll never have to find out. I just pray that graham crackers are the next cultural icon to fall, so that they they leave the LSAT's and the GRE's alone for the next three or four years.

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