Standardized testing is a gauntlet that is the capstone of one learning experience and the gateway to a whole other world of possibilities; it’s no wonder that there is a whole industry devoted to building test scores and grooming students into improved test-takers.

This week in 5 Education Articles to End Your Week, we take a look at blogs and news stories about the SAT, ACT and the college admissions experience, trying to make sense of the madness.

1.    Preparing for the SAT

by Alex Mallory,

The big message here is no matter how exceptional a student may be, parents need to learn that test preparation is a large part of SAT success.

Alex Mallory, Founder & Educational Director of Completive Edge Tutoring outlines a fantastic analogy between the time it normally takes to prepare for the SAT (8-12 weeks) and the demands of other prolonged learning experiences such as a semester in college or a year of school work, homework, and extracurricular learning experiences to learn 1 subject in high school curriculum. To get the desired results, the student, no matter how smart, must prepare.

2.      One College Applicant Puts Her Testing Gripes on Video

by Eric Hoover, The Chronicle of Higher Education

According to one high-school student, Allie Kauffmann, the standardize test experience is biased and unfair. FairTest, a testing watching group, worked with the Kauffmann’s on the film, but according to the Chronicle’s Higher Education blog did not have any artist input on the story.

SAT + ACT = Unfair + Biased? from Sam Kauffmann on Vimeo.

That means that when Allie Kauffman points out that the importance placed on standardized testing only aggravates the economic disparity between students who can afford test prep courses (for $500-$1,500 a pop) and the students who simply can not afford such an extravagance. “It’s like playing basketball with kids on ladders,” she says.

3.      7 Ways to Improve SAT and ACT Scores

by Lynn O’ Shaughnessy, The College Solution Blog

Despite the fact that the ACT and SAT are now accepted in all 50 states by all US colleges and universities, many students might select a test simply based on geography. That’s because for many years the ACT was only offered in the Midwest and the SAT was popular with East and West Coast schools. Despite the fact that both tests are offered in every state, many students don’t select a test based on which one they perform better at. Instead, they choose a test based on what their friends or parents tell them to.

With her 7 tips for SAT and ACT success, this is exactly the sort of behavior that Lynn O’ Shaughnessy hopes to prevent in students preparing for the college exams. “The worst thing you can do,” she says “is take a particular test because your friends are.”

4.   Do tests really help students learn – or was a new study misreported?

by Alfie Kohn, The Answer Sheet

It would appear that the coverage of an education study posted in the journal Science is not winning many fans in the education community. If you didn’t see the New York Times article entitled “Take a Test to Really Learn, Research Suggests,” or the hundreds of other news organizations who picked up the study, too, you’re probably wondering what the hullabaloo could possibly be about.

Alfie Kohn takes to the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog to chide the news organization for making it appear that the study posted in the journal Science was referring to standardized tests, when in fact the journal Science study couldn’t have been referring to K-12 students. After all, their test subjects were undergraduates.

5.      The Almighty Essay

by Trip Gabriel, New York Times

As colleges are inundated with applications from students, the personal essay, or what New York Times writer Trip Gabrial playfully calls the “Almighty Essay,” becomes the tie-breaker in the neck-and-neck race for students to gain acceptance to the college of their choice.

“Is this really fair?” the author of the piece asks, pointing out that many students don’t ever get to write in 1st person narrative while in school, nor experience the kind of themes in their life that would make a literary-quality essay. He ponders, are we really producing the kinds of students that can produce a personal essay that is “expository, analytical, and argumentative” – the qualities that that make a personal essay stand apart from the pack.

featured photo is from La Prima Donna

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