Monday, April 09, 2012

Standardized Testing for Adults

I took the SAT a few times. The first was in seventh grade for some sort of nerd camp thing.  (I don't remember people telling me that was why I was taking it, I have since found out that was the secret reason.  I did score well enough to get an offer from one such camp, however the mail system in my house prevented me from knowing this before the deadline.  I found the letter the day after it was due.)  As a result I knew I had done okay as a seventh grader so was not particularly stressed as a when we did the PSAT or later when I took the SAT.  I retook it to see if I could bump up my math score for one of the colleges I was applying to, and amusingly, got the exact same math score again.  (My verbal went up a smidge.) 
When I took the GRE eons later, I, at the time, had the option to pay extra to do it on computer.  (I think that's the normal way these days.) I never wanted to see another freaking bubble again as long as I lived.  I pulled out a test booklet beforehand and discovered that the math stuff looked familiar but strange.  Kind of like Latin in that I knew I used to know that, but since I had not needed to compute the area of a triangle in quite some time I stared with some panic at the problem thinking, what the hell?  It did come back to me and I did fine on the GRE, but it did reinforce that some of this stuff I had not used in quite some time. Of course, I never would have predicted how commonly I'd be using some of that algebra, so there you go.  Maybe the rest of you calculate areas of triangles a lot.
But reading this story of an adult taking the SAT, made me nod and shudder.  In addition to the ahem, colorfully worded points the author makes (things like when else will you have to sit for several hours in the same chair doing nothing but answering tests, oh right, not since you were in school), there is also the test section.  One of the sections is a test section (so, yes, you are paying to be a guinea pig) leading to the common (at least for me) belief that that one section you totally rocked on must have been the freaking test section.  (In fairness, I get the purpose of the test section, but a zillion bubbles later, knowing that some of those bubble didn't even count just sucks.)
Also, now you get sample formulas?  Are you kidding me?  I mean yay, that is so totally how it should be.  (I knew about the calculators.  And the essay.)

h/t to the several tweeple who posted this link
Edited for spelling.