Monday, June 25, 2007


I’m a mom, and like all moms I have to brag when my children accomplish something that’s especially brilliant, so please indulge me :)

#1 son took the SAT last month, and we recently got the scores back. For those of you who haven’t taken the SAT in a while (like me) and may have forgotten how it works—the student is tested in three sections: math, critical reading, and writing. Each section is scored individually, and a perfect score in each section is 800.

Son’s score on the math section was...*drum roll, please*...780!

What can I say? The kid is a little mathematical whiz. Okay, maybe not, I don’t really know what percentage of students score a 780 or above, but I couldn’t have done it. Son inherited his math abilities from his father.

Apparently, he didn’t inherit any abilities from me, because his scores on the reading and writing sections...well, they weren't pretty. But thankfully, he can retake it.

Since I’m talking about the SAT, let me state for the record that I very much dislike the new essay portion of it (which was added to the test in 2005).

I won’t say what the prompt was on Son’s SAT (because I don’t know if it’s ‘allowed’), but I will say that it was very “philosophical”. It’s basically a personal opinion, but it’s something that you really have to put some thought into, and of course, you have to be able to support your position. And the students are only give 25 minutes to write this essay. That’s not nearly enough time. Son didn’t even finish his.

Even as an adult who writes on a daily basis, and who has an entire lifetime of knowledge and experiences to drawn upon, I’m not sure that I could have completed this essay in 25 minutes. Well, maybe I could have, but I fear it would have been very lacking in quality. It would have taken me the first 10 minutes just to get my thoughts together. And forget having time to revise.

I think the kids are at a huge disadvantage with this small time allotment, and it’s very frustrating for them.

How are kids taught to write? They’re taught to write a rough draft, and then revise it (several times usually). They’re not taught how to write an essay in 25 minutes. And frankly, I don't think they should be taught how to write an essay in 25 minutes. An essay should be well thought out and have gone through at least one revision.

Adequate writing skills are a necessity in life. It’s important. But I don't think that the SAT essay is giving colleges a true indication of a student’s writing ability. The College Board seriously needs to rethink this. But that’s just my personal opinion.

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