It's the first day of winter break and 'tis the season for a four-hour practice SAT exam. Don't know what I was thinking when I offered our home as a venue for GC and his three friends to take the grueling March 2005 SAT I.
I procured the exams from GC's tutor, sent Mr. NP to Kinko's for xeroxing and collating, and got the power bars and water ready for the breaks.
And now here I am, supervising the NINTH section of this joyous activity. Although I have been doing little more than keeping the dog from licking the test-takers' feet and running back and forth to the kitchen to set the timer, I really feel the boys' pain. As they complete the final section, which tests grammar and sentence construction, I feel as if I've tortured rather than empowered them.
A few random observations:
- I could not figure out how long to make the break between sections. My usual definitive source, College Confidential was inconsistent: some kids swore the pauses were supposed to be just 2-minutes, while others mentioned multiple 5-minute rest periods. We went for the kinder, gentler five-minute breaks…which added an hour to the exam schedule.
- The boys had no interest in cheating, but they were very interested in chatting. They felt a need to analyze and ridicule the exam.
- Even if you're not taking the test, four hours is L-O-N-G. I stayed in the room, playing Scrabble online, surfing the internet and writing Christmas cards for the guy who delivers our NY Times. Sort of felt as if I were in a plane with Wifi. On a cross-country flight.
- I'm not sure if the stamina necessary for this test is anything related to the skill-set you need for college. When will one ever again be required to write an essay about creativity, then figure out the area of the shaded portion of a triangle, then find missplaced commas…all in a tightly-structured time period?
And those wacky exam creators are all over the map: first, getting rid of my favorite part – the analogies, then making the exam several hours longer in order to include an "experimental section," which doesn't even count. (The boys did not take that part today – would have been 25 extra minutes). That darn college board can't even remain consistent about what SAT stands for. Back in the day it was Scholastic Aptitude Test. Then in the '80s, it became the Scholastic Achievement Test, even though the questions remained relatively the same. And now it's just plain SAT, no longer an acronym, but a word unto itself as in "I SAT for four hours taking a brutal exam, and its biased results could define my whole future."