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• MCAS is f*cked up (Score:3, Interesting)

The MCAS shouldnt even exist. They only create these things to keep poor people from going to college.

The MCAS is setup so that if you fail it, you can NEVER go to college, you can NEVER get a diploma, and all you get is some stupid certificate.

Alot of kids who went to shitty schools have to either become very mature at a young age and take matters into their own hands and teach themselves, or they are going to fail that test and never go to college.

Seems like class Warfare to me.

I'm from MA as well AC,
• Well.. (Score:2)

I did ok with my 1330, although had I taken the test more than once, I'd have probably ended up with the magic number of 1400 or higher.

To those who don't know much about the SAT, they take the highest score for the math and the highest score for the verbal section from all the tests you take (there's no limit I'm aware of), and they're added together for your total score. So if I score a 600/700 on my math and verbal respectively on my first test, and then a 700/600 on my math and verbal respectively on t
• But why?? (Score:2)

Doesn't this guy have anything better to do with his time? Taking a test ranks right up with going to the dentist. It sucks and is the most boring thing I can think of that I do not look forward to doing.

Also I am supprised they let an adult out of highschool take it. I finished my senior year in Canada so I did not take the SAT. I decided back in the states on my junior year to take it a year later so I can have a higher score.

Since I am in community college now I might as well take it again since I can
• Essay questions on the SAT (Score:5, Interesting)

on Saturday May 10, 2003 @04:54AM (#5924892) Homepage Journal
Does anyone else find the idea of essay questions on the SAT at least, idiotic?

I mean, without a keyboard and a spellchecker I'm nothing! My handwriting is absolutely terrible. But none of that matters in collage, since papers will be turned in after being typed on a computer. And even if a grader isn't going to look at those things specifically, they'll still be affected by them, as well as whether or not they agree with the essay. Not to mention the fact that it's going to be insanely expensive to grade these things. They'll need about 1,500 graders each grading 1,500 papers. Can you imagine grading that many boring essays about random subjects? My brain would just go numb. The only fair way to do it would be to have each essay graded by a diverse group of graders, and then average the score. But that would cost even more per test. Or perhaps they could figure out some way to grade essays by a computer. Teach a neural net the properties of a good essay and see what it comes up with.

Or they could just not do it...
• Re:Essay questions on the SAT (Score:5, Insightful)

<adrian.symphonious@net> on Saturday May 10, 2003 @08:49AM (#5925350) Homepage Journal
And even if a grader isn't going to look at those things specifically, they?ll still be affected by them, as well as whether or not they agree with the essay. Not to mention the fact that it's going to be insanely expensive to grade these things. They'll need about 1,500 graders each grading 1,500 papers.

Actually, the marking of essays is a problem that's been pretty comprehensively solved here in sunny Queensland Australia. The trick to it is to have a statistician on hand. Then you take a whole bunch of markers from all around the state and they come together to mark the essays. You give them a whole bunch of training on how to mark the essays, what they should be looking for etc. Each essay is then independently marked twice (ie: two markers read and grade it without knowing anything about what the other marker thought of the paper). Then the results are collated and handed to the statistician who looks for any grades that don't match up - one of the markers isn't marking properly. Which one is easy to pick because during the day each marker will have marked several essays and the pairs of markers always change, so you just look for any marker that shows up in more than one grade mismatch and you have your problem case.

Once you've found the problem cases for the day you prioritise them and take out the most significant problem markers for more training (there's not enough money to retrain them all). If a marker is picked up as a problem case twice they're sent home and won't participate in any further marking (usually for quite a few years, teachers around here have long memories...).

So now we have a system that keeps markers consistent, what do you do with the grades that were mismatched by markers? You have the essay graded by a third person who is very experienced in the marking process and see what they think. If they have trouble deciding they can refer it to a fourth person and so on.

So in short, the way to mark essays reliably and fairly, lots of training, lots of money, and a damn good statistician (yes only one statistician for the entire state of Queensland).

Also note that the test we use (the Queensland Core Skills test or QCS) is regarded as one of the best tests in the world, takes about 2 years to write (they're already working on the 2005 test) and is sold off to other countries like Japan. You should also note that your mark on the QCS test does not affect your tertiary entrace score, rather the results of the QCS test are groups in various ways and use to scale your marks for the rest of your senior year to accomodate for different difficulties of subjects (Physics vs Chemistry vs English vs Art vs Typing etc) as well as differences in marking between schools and a whole host of other things, but never an individual basis. In other words, it takes probability into account which suggests that some students will perform below their normal standard and others will perform above their normal standard since the test is held over only two days (a small sample of the students actual work thus leading to high variance).

The whole process is actually very carefully and very well designed so you're of the belief that tests don't judge personal ability, you should do some research on this process because it's as good an example of test usage you're likely to find. The biggest downside is that because of it's complexity (or particuarly because it's different to the normal way people think about tests) most students don't actually understand the process and really panic about their QCS test results.

• Re:Essay questions on the SAT (Score:3, Interesting)

Not in the least. It's much more difficult to write a good essay then pick one of five answers.

AP (Advanced Placement) exams have a free response section on all tests. For the math APs the free response is pretty objective - you get a point for this setup, a point for that answer, or a point for this explanation, but all of that is still graded by hand. Most other exams, at least those in English, have three essays that make up more than half of the total score.

For example, in both the US and European
• it's easy, just double bubble! (Score:4, Interesting)

on Saturday May 10, 2003 @04:59AM (#5924911)
dude, if you fill in 2 bubbles you get the question wrong, all he had to do was scribble in heavy black down the whole page and he'd be done in 20 seconds
• My experience... (Score:5, Interesting)

on Saturday May 10, 2003 @05:11AM (#5924943)
When taking the PSAT during my sophomore year in high school, I decided that the school didn't need to know my ethnic origin, whether the information was gathered for statistican purposes only or not. The choices were typical (White/Caucasian, Black/African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, etc...), and there was a seventh blank marked "Other", suggesting anyone of any ethnicity not listed to list their brand name. I thought I did a very noble thing for a white boy in urban central Georgia, and I checked the "Other" box and wrote in, "I'm human. What does it matter?"

The test proctor, a Geometry teacher, didn't like this very much and sent me to the principal's office. I gladly took my test answer sheet up to the principal's office and told them the story I wrote here. The principal took the answer sheet and showed it to a couple of people around the office, presumably to get second and third (reinforcing) opinions, and then returned the test sheet to me and told me to get back to class, finish the test, "and if she has any further problem with this, send her to me."

My first reaction was, whoa, "send her to you"?! I don't have that authority. She made me understand that I had done nothing wrong and should definitely not be punished for it. (To be honest, I do not remember if my main purpose was to be a smartass or to promote social colorblind-ness, but it shouldn't matter if anyone reads it properly.)

Anyway, the moral of this story is: if you let them get used to you simply falling into line and always doing the expected thing, you get locked into it. On the other hand, if you let them know you're just less than predictable, and perhaps even a bit crazy or eccentric, then you can get away with much more and even get them to think harder about things. I succeeded that day, and my ego swelled from that of a skinny, nerdy white boy into that of a taller, more confident, skinny, nerdy white boy. :-)

p.s.-- my favorite line from Colin Fahey's site:

So, in this latest experience, when I worked very hard to determine the correct answer for each question, and then proceeded to pick the exact WRONG answer (in fact, the most RIDICULOUS answer), I had a very strong emotional reaction. For a while I worried that this new peculiar feeling of freedom was in fact insanity; I was finally making the transition to madness.
Yeah, I feel that ALL the time. Marching to the beat of a different drum is liberating, but self-liberation is viewed as insanity until it catches on...
• Re:My experience... (Score:5, Interesting)

by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 10, 2003 @06:06AM (#5925063)
It would be great if someone would take the test in 2005, and answer the essay question:

"I refuse to answer the essay portion of this test on the grounds that any answer I give will be judged subjectively and any grade not given by a machine is arbitrary. As proof I submit that if I were to grade my answer to this question, I would give myself full credit."
• Re:My experience... (Score:5, Insightful)

on Saturday May 10, 2003 @08:36AM (#5925315) Homepage
As proof I submit that if I were to grade my answer to this question, I would give myself full credit.

Actually that argument probably fails. I think there will probably be precise and detailed list of criteria for scoring the essay. Yes, it will be partially subjective, but not entirely arbitrary. Giving yourself full credit for that essay would probably be a violation of the rules.

-
• Urban legends (Score:3, Interesting)

I studied Philosophy at Cambridge University, and the last exam you took every year was called "Essay". You were expected to pontificate for three hours on one of a number of topics. So, the question paper would be:

1) Justice
2) Truth ...
20) Happiness

Generally it was a great opportunity to blather on. Anyway, when I arrived there was this great fuss. Apparently, in the previous year one of the questions had been simply "Courage", to which one student had written "This is." The story - true or not - is that
• I feel sorry ... (Score:5, Funny)

on Saturday May 10, 2003 @05:20AM (#5924969)
... for the guys either side of Colin in the examination room ... glancing across ...
"He answered 'D' on Question 26? But, I'm sure it's 'B'! Shit ... uhm, maybe it IS 'D'. *rubs out, ticks 'D'*. WHAT? 'A' for Q27?!? SHIT SHIT SHIT! *rubs out*"
Disclaimer: Don't cheat on tests, cheating is bad, mmmmkay?
• SAT verbal == word memorization (Score:3, Insightful)

on Saturday May 10, 2003 @05:41AM (#5925012) Homepage
I did my undergraduate education in India, where we didn't have the SAT -- but I did take the GRE for graduate study in the USA, and I understand the format of the GRE is like that of the SAT, just harder and with a extra "analytic" section.

The SAT verbal section is for the most part, a test of vocabulary word memorization. In India, we aspiring graduate students spent marathon sessions memorizing vocabulary words that we never used again after taking the test. It was quite a joke, really. It favors those with the wherewithal to engage in this mindless brain-stuffing, and disadvantages those who do have the skills to read critically and find meaning, but don't memorize all those esoteric (= a good example itself!) words.

While the math section seems relevant, the verbal section needs much overhaul to not rely so much on pure memorization.
• SAT verbal != word memorization (Score:3, Interesting)

In India, we aspiring graduate students spent marathon sessions memorizing vocabulary words that we never used again after taking the test. It was quite a joke, really. It favors those with the wherewithal to engage in this mindless brain-stuffing, and disadvantages those who do have the skills to read critically and find meaning, but don't memorize all those esoteric (= a good example itself!) words.

The next time you speak about Indians, do a favour, don't generalise, okay?

I'm an Indian, and five year

• I liked this bit... (Score:5, Funny)

on Saturday May 10, 2003 @07:04AM (#5925158)
near the bottom of the page there is an overexposed photo of the test taker with this caption:

FIGURE: "Could my future get any brighter?!"
• Colin is an interesting fellow.... (Score:5, Interesting)

on Saturday May 10, 2003 @07:22AM (#5925189) Homepage Journal
I worked with this guy last year. He liked to work on all the tangential problems on our project... things like how to integrate Samba protocol with our proprietary API... fun stuff with actual real results...

He went on hiatus and never really came back. I heard about this particular stunt this morning from a coworker, best ten minutes of the day...

My thoughts were that this would be fun to gamble on... say put together pools or spread objectives for various test takers and bet money on how close they will come to their goals. Say you've got a guy who says he can get the absolute average... well you bet on him getting within 20 points or you say noway and take the smaller gain, whatever.. gambling on people's ability to read the test and perform how ever they want to sounds quite interesting to me...

on Saturday May 10, 2003 @07:55AM (#5925249)
Young SAT takers...the only advice I have to give concerning this test is take it over and over and over and over. Dot it so much that you memorize the spoken instructions. Take the PSATs as often as you can. Then take the SAT as often as your budget will let you.

I went to a magnet high school that seemed to be little more than a college-entry factory and we prepped for the SAT from the first day of my freshman year. The more familiar you become with it, the better you'll be at it.

Also, from what I understand, your score is variable on how everyone else did as well (kind of like a curve in a class of many thousands). So depending on when you take it, your score could go up. My 4 PSAT/SAT scores were: 1240, 1260, 1340, 1420. Screw people who say you can't jump up like that - just keep taking the thing and you have a good chance of at least marginally increasing your score.

Oh, and get there on time too. Flying around town at 90mph to go back and get your ticket was^H^H^His not fun.
• Which schools? (Score:5, Interesting)

<<a987> <at> <mac.com>> on Saturday May 10, 2003 @08:40AM (#5925334) Journal
I'd love to know what schools have sent him a prospectus on attending. Who are the bottom feeders?
• Closed Universe (Score:5, Interesting)

on Saturday May 10, 2003 @09:21AM (#5925422)
I thought this was one of the better comments in the article:
It is possible that people with the same subjective influences and implicit assumptions do well in college, because college faculty belong to the same dominant species of irrationality. So, the value of the verbal section of the SAT as a predictor of performance in college might be quite high. However, the side-effect of optimizing a test to better predict success in college is that truly objective minds might be punished for not keeping up with the latest delusions.
I've always felt that the U.S. education system "taught to itself," meaning that much of what you learned in school was directly relevant to school, but nowhere else. It's like the schools inhabit their own closed universe.

My 13 year-old son spends an inordinate amount of time in school studying and practicing for a thing called a TAKS test here in Texas. You have to pass it or you don't graduate to the next grade (that's the intention, anyway). What skill, exactly, is he learning? As far as I can tell, the skill is "how to take the TAKS test" -- something very useful in the post-school world, I'm sure.

Very frustrating, at times.

• Re:Closed Universe (Score:5, Insightful)

on Saturday May 10, 2003 @02:55PM (#5926777)
I'm upset because I went through twelve years of school and never learned:

1. Office/Workplace Etiquette.
2. Customer Service Skills.
3. How Banking Works.
4. How to build Good Credit.
5. How to PAY A BILL.
6. Landlord/tenant rights.
7. How a car works (basic theory).
8. How to budget monthly.
9. How Insurance works/how to use insurance.
10.So much more.
• Oh god (Score:5, Funny)

on Saturday May 10, 2003 @10:59AM (#5925779)
Great. An excuse for thousands of nerds to brag about their SAT scores :)
• My Crazy SAT Story (Score:3, Funny)

on Saturday May 10, 2003 @11:15AM (#5925837) Homepage
After a night of excess myself and four friends realized we had our SAT's that morning at 8:00am (it was about 5 or 6 when we realized this). I purchased a sixpack of Josta Cola (mmm... Josta, the real oldschool geek drink) and we headed off for the testing.

I had to wake one friend up twice during the testing, and he still was staggering during breaks, his final score: 1580. Another friend landed into what I would consider the lowest score of all time with a 580 COMBINED! I managed to do OK with a 1260.

The moral of the story, do a number of odd substances, don't sleep, do not study, and get a few naps in DURING the testing and you too can score like a true Ivy Leaguer. =)
• Re:My Crazy SAT Story (Score:4, Funny)

on Saturday May 10, 2003 @05:37PM (#5927574)
After a night of excess myself and four friends realized we had our SAT's that morning at 8:00am
I guess you and your friend's scored poorly on the verbal test's.
• Measure of Wealth (Score:3, Informative)

on Saturday May 10, 2003 @02:15PM (#5926587)
As someone who's tutored plenty of students in SAT's, I can say this: The SAT's may gauge intelligence, problem-solving ability, and test-taking skills, but just as much, if not moreso, it tests that student's resources. I've had students who are extremely bright, but due to their poverty, just don't have the resources to compete with students who have the resources of, say, a George W. Bush. Their public schooling is atrocious, they don't have the money for lots of tutoring and several retests, they don't have access to information like free tutoring, free practice tests, and resources online. The fact that so many people will take the SAT's as a cut and dry measure of one's smarts is disturbing to say the least. Unfortunately, much of the rest of the education is dependent on the child's wealth as well.
• sure 400 seems low (Score:4, Funny)

on Saturday May 10, 2003 @04:55PM (#5927333) Homepage Journal
but it rounds up to like 540 canadian.

back in middle school, I had a teacher who would give lots of extra credit questions on tests, but would subtract points if you got the extra credit wrong. I ended up with a -120 on a test. F for the semester too, but middle school doesnt matter.

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