L.S. of Bellmore, NY writes:

I can't take the studying for the (expletive) SATs. Is all of this really necessary?

The College Whisperer responds:

For years, the SAT (Scholastic Achievement Test cum Scholastic Aptitude Test) has had its detractors -- The College Whisperer among them -- and, of more recent vintage, has come under fire, from college administrators and students alike, as being unfair, biased, and fundamentally flawed, demonstrating neither achievement nor aptitude.


Indeed, as any 10th grader, having suffered through the PSAT, could tell you, the SAT and its ilk aren't worth the ovals the number 2 pencils are forced to write within.

Many colleges are forgoing the requirement of SAT submission, and many more, if not all, gladly accept ACT scores (viewed as a somewhat more reliable indicator of proficiency) in lieu of the SAT.

Does that mean we will see the demise of the likes of the SAT and SATII, with the dreaded and despised College Board forever closing its doors? Doubtful, at least in The College Whisperer's lifetime. [Way too much money on the line in this cottage industry turned industrial-strength monster.] Then again, we can always hold out hope.

Is the SAT necessary, as an evil rite of passage, if not otherwise? Perhaps not, but it's still out there, with colleges, for better or worse, continuing to rely on it.

My advice would be to take BOTH the SAT and the ACT, submitting the better of the scores to your colleges of choice. This way, you at least keep your options open.

As for test prep, forge on through the tedium and nonsensical symmetry, in both form and substance, of the SAT. Take advantage of FREE courses offered in your high school, community center or local library. Nearby colleges (particularly the community colleges) often offer low-cost SAT/ACT prep courses.

If you believe a personal tutor may help build your test-taking acumen and confidence (not to mention your vocabulary and math skills), College Connection will gladly refer you to one of our preferred tutors. Yes, the personal attention, together with a dedicated and focused study regimen, does help!

Meanwhile, as we commiserate over the trials and tribulations of those darned standardized tests, here's a sample SAT question of The College Whisperer's own devise. [That's "devise," not "demise." ;-)]:

QUESTION: John, a typical high school Junior, has 8 shirts, 5 pairs of pants, 3 blazers, and a cardigan. Assuming all possible permutations and combinations, how many unique outfits does John have to wear?


This is a subtle, yet still tricky question, designed to lull you into believing that some higher order of math, necessitating the retention of an actuary, is in order.

John, we are told, is "a typical high school Junior." Hence, he wears the same clothes (save the occasional change of underwear) day after day after day.

Double DUH!

The SAT, and, for that matter, the ACT, Regents exams, and standardized tests, in general, have little to do with logic or reason, and even less to do with reality. The best we can do is to accept that premise and move on.

Okay. Back to the books.

Remember to come up for air -- and a double fudge sundae -- once in a while, and to keep on smiling. You, too, will survive the SAT, ACT, and all the other slings and arrows academia may hurl your way. In fact, one day (perhaps when your own kids are cursing the College Board), you may even laugh about it!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.
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