Deadspin’s Drew Magary recently retook the SAT as a 35 year old and wrote about it. Read the whole piece to see how he did.
But there was only one way to find out if I truly am dumber than I was 18 years ago. I had to take the SAT one more time, cold. With no preparation of any sort. And I had to do it under the exact same conditions as before: using bubble sheets, a No. 2 pencil, a standard calculator (I sold my TI-81 graphing calculator after I graduated. OOPS!). And I had to do it in the time allotted. So that’s exactly what I did. I went to the College Board and printed out a sample test, then sat down and took it from beginning to end. Here now is what transpired.
The test hasn’t changed too much since Magary took it the first time in 1993, though they have added a writing section and increased to 2400 the max score. Magary describes the disadvantages of taking the test after not having been in a classroom for years, and points out that all of the things that were wrong with the SAT are still wrong. To wit, the reading comprehension examples are still boring.
Jesus, that’s the worst thing ever written. It’s like a failed submission to The Atlantic. I bet Gregg Easterbrook has read whatever novel this comes from 50 times over and made copious notes in the margins. Would it have killed them to throw in a passage WORTH reading? Like a section from The Dirt? “When Nikki Sixx nailed that guy’s ear to the floor, it was a sign that he was A.) angry, B.) surprised, C.) melancholy, D.) Batman, E.) all of the above.” It wouldn’t kill them to at least try to entertain kids while giving this test. It shouldn’t have to be a deadly march through bland subject after bland subject. It could be humanized. It could even be lively in the right hands.
I just went looking for additional examples of taking the SAT as an adult, and apparently the experience so scarred all of us that I wasn’t able to find any one else who has written about it. Not surprising.