Thursday, September 15, 2011

What September 15th Means To Me: SATs

Piggybacking on the recent "back to school" posts, since we are still in September, I'd like to welcome the latest sign of the "idiocracy."  Low SAT scores!

With this recent data, how long before the below is actually true:

I don't have any particular strong thoughts about the SATs, other than I do believe it is a decent barometer of both individual intelligence and the effects of education.  Over the years, I've heard many claim that the test doesn't really prove intelligence, to which I both agree and disagree. 

I just came by to say hai!

Glad you could stop by, Zack, to help discuss my point.  The SAT is a test that has the ability to separate the truly intelligent from the "booksmart." You know, those kids who study 15 hours a day, raise their hand all the time, shove their heads so far up the teacher's ass, all in the name of the elusive "A+"  Zack Morris, by all means, was a poor student.  He skipped class, was a pain in the ass to Mr. Belding, nearly failed out, was a much worse student than both Jessie and Screech, yet he demolished them both on the SAT...with the impossible score of 1502.  But none of this was all that surprising because, although Zack wasn't a great student, he was cunning and sharp.  It wasn't beyond the realm of possibility that he'd have the wherewithal to navigate a test like the SAT.  I've known a few people who were poor students because they were unmotivated, but the SAT did prove that they were exceptionally intelligent.  On the flipside, I've never known anyone I've considered "dumb" or "stupid" to fluke the SAT and score Morrisian type numbers.  If you have, then that person is just a really good guesser and, I bet, would do poorly on the next test. 

But what about me!  I was Salutatorian of Bayside and only got a measly 1205.  Did I fool them all?  Am I a ruhtard?
Rest assured, Jessie, you are not a ruhtard (probably not, anyway).  Though I've never met a dumb person who scored high on the SAT, I have met some pretty smart people who have scored abnormally low.  Though the SAT features many exercises that measure basic intelligence and learned knowledge, it's administered under a time limit and, of course, does have questions that call for a specific knowledge.  For example, if you come across a math problem that requires a specific formula that you simply 1) forgot or 2) never learned, I don't see how failing to answer correctly is a sign of stupidity.  Similarly, if you never learned certain vocabulary words (or the roots of these words) or grammar rules, you might have trouble in the verbal (this is what Shaq was talking about when he claimed the test was "culturally biased" in the crappy movie, "Blue Chips.")  Simply put, if you were never given the tools to figure out equations and vocabulary words, it's virtually impossible to conjure up answers out of the blue. Therefore, a poor test score can be an anomaly  The only way to figure out if this is true is for the student to take a hundred SATs, but who really has the time or the energy.  But in regards to my comment above about the "booksmart," the SAT may weed out the kids who just try hard.  After all, teachers aren't machines, they have feelings and emotions, and it's human nature to award hard workers with, in this case, high grades.  How can we tell the difference between the "booksmart" and the intelligent who don't do well on standardized tests?  Fuck if I know!

Regardless of these examples, one can certainly score better on the SAT through test prep, as many companies offer courses and literature that teach you the basics to help you improve your score.  So, really, this overall, nationwide downward trend is probably a failure in preparation and education.  I sincerely doubt the world has suddenly been flooded with Jessie Spano's.  Though, with recent technology and the emergence of new media, it wouldn't be shocking to see a correlation between declining SAT scores and attention spans of teenagers.  The SAT, maybe more than anything, is a test of mental endurance.  I remember feeling absolutely wiped after taking them.  Is today's generation of children, the texting, "what have you done for me lately" generation up to that task?  The consequences of their spastic nature certainly has manifested itself in other ways.  Did I just hit on something that I didn't originally intend on discussing?  MAYBE I DID. 

Thanks Michelle!

Maybe someone smarter than me could look further into that relationship.  After all, I didn't score too high on the SATs.

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