Here's why I love the SAT:
(Note: This is an off the cuff list, and I am purposely ignoring all sorts of legitimate issues, such as the high stakes, socioeconomic inequalities, etc. That's a different post.)
- If I'm feeling down, I can grab a College Board Blue Book and start working my way through a section, and within minutes the rest of the world melts away and I'm all alone in my SAT bubble with my "problems" -- but not my real life problems -- these are my SAT problems.
- I can chart my progress and see how far I've come in six months (which actually isn't that far if you just look at my scores, but it doesn't take much to give me that "I'm getting better!" sensation.) As long as the line graph is headed in the right direction, I'm optimistic.
- Despite the difficulty of the SAT Critical Reading section, I have stumbled across some breathtaking passages that lead me to discover books I want to read. For example, there was a passage from The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri on the May 2011 SAT; now it's on the top of my reading list.
- I have a visceral understanding of how hard this test is, and as a result have more empathy for the kids who are facing it (not to mention, the educators who are supposed to be preparing them to do well).
- I am gaining a deep understanding of what's not being taught in school that you need to know to do very well on this test (e.g. grammar, the function of a sentence in a passage, the relationship between two passages, etc.).
- I've learned new vocabulary words (and what's not to love about that?).
- I'm officially learning grammar for the first time in my life. I know that sounds boring, but trust me, it doesn't have to be.
- I find the challenge of a gnarly looking function problem an enormously satisfying experience.
- I've discovered this cool subculture of SAT enthusiasts, and I've even had a few kids admit to me that they enjoy the SAT, but I'm sworn to secrecy.
llustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis