What Happens When A 35-Year-Old Man Retakes The SAT?

I came across this post about the SAT earlier today. It reminded me of the 2005-2006 version of me. I hated having to take the SAT. It was complete agony. I was absolutely terrible at it and ended up taking it 3 times (and even after all that pain, I only pulled off a score of 2120/2400) 1. Here’re my comments:

Most students still have to take the test using bubble sheets and a No. 2 pencil, which is insane to me.

I had to endure this through a few semesters of college too. Scantron needs to die. It should’ve been dead years ago. Given today’s technology, it’s crazy that students have to color in bubbles.

One of the few upsides of being an adult is that you NEVER have to take the SAT again. You never have to worry about it. You don’t have to give a shit what’ll happen if have to pee during the test. You don’t have to look at another analogy ever again.

Amen, brother. If I were the kind of person who prays, I suspect my prayers would begin with “Thank you God, for not making me think about standardized tests today”.

Before you even begin taking the SAT, it’s already worn you down. There’s an entire form you have to fill out at the front of the test booklet, including a bubble sheet with your name, your DOB, your ZIP code, your test center code, your form code, your test-book serial number, your registration number (???), your gender, and….

Again, given today’s technology, it’s downright barbaric to put students through this.

One of the reasons that the SAT is so feared (and reviled) is because of the way the test itself is written. There’s no way around it. The SAT is an ASSHOLE. Everything is an order. Every line of text you read in the instructions is a dire warning that if you do not do exactly as you are told, your life will be DESTROYED.

I don’t think changing the way the SAT is written will matter a whole lot, because I suspect most students taking the test will learn to tune this stuff out when taking the actual test. But, whether or not you read it, you can’t help but feel “if you do not do exactly as you are told, your life will be DESTROYED”. I lived in perennial fear of my life being destroyed. It’s no way to live.

I noticed that the beginning of each math section gave you basic reference formulas, like the area of a circle, the volume of a cylinder, the Pythagorean theorem, and more. Which was good, because I completely forgot all of that shit. Did you know that the sum of degrees in any triangle must equal 180? I HAD NO IDEA. I have to think the smart kids who take this test must be angry at the inclusion of this free reference guide. Shouldn’t the stupid kids be forced to remember all this?

This I disagree with. Sure, it’s nice to have those formulae around (in case you blank out on one of them), but if you don’t know them, well - you’re probably unprepared for the test. I have no problem with requiring people to prepare for a test. If I were a smart kid, I wouldn’t care about this. If you know them, you save time since you don’t have to look them up. That’s reward enough. Besides, take a couple of practice tests, and I’d be surprised if you don’t memorize them without meaning to.

The author also talks about two math questions that boggle his mind, that really aren’t all that mind boggling. They do have to test something, you know… The point of the test isn’t to make you feel good about yourself for being able to answer a few stupid questions. Sure, I might not ever have to solve these kind of problems in real life, but this sort of thing is meant to see if you can think analytically. There’s no point in testing whether or not you can screw in a light bulb.

The SAT lulls you into a false sense of security by front-loading most sections with a few softballs, so that stupid kids can get at least a few questions right and then enjoy the rest of their lives working on an oil rig. But as you get deeper into each section, the questions take a nasty turn.

And the problem is…. ? An easy question is worth just as much as a hard question, so you might as well start with the easy ones. Again, the point of the test is not to make you feel good.

Reading comprehension is every bit as painful and horrible as you remember. You get a few paragraphs of bone-dry text about a random subject, and then you have to go and answer questions about what the text means.

I remember sufferring through this garbage. The passages are so daggone boring, it shocks me that the person writing this crap didn’t die of boredom. This isn’t a test of reading comprehension, it’s a test of “how much boring crap can I read without falling asleep?”. In fact, the whole freaking SAT is an endurance test. It’s very accurately measures “how much of this shit can you put up with?”.

I don’t know why they added an essay to the SAT. Two million kids take the SAT annually. Something tells me those essays aren’t scored with a great deal of care. And whether or not you can write two pages of crap in 25 minutes hardly stands as a good barometer of your abilities.

My prep for the essay section was basically memorzing a host of “generally relevant examples” from a host of SAT prep books. There is no way in hell I can write a good essay in 25 minutes, with no research. Solution: anticipate, memorize, regurgitate. In fact, this worked incredibly well for just about every exam I took in high school. It’s a sad state of affairs.

I would recommend that no one take the SAT ever. It’s a sternly worded dinosaur of a test, graded in an arbitrary manner with outdated equipment, and it blows.

Couldn’t put it better myself. Only problem is, you really don’t have a choice in the matter…

  1. I also took 3 SAT Subject Tests - Math Level 1, Math Level 2 and Physics. Fortunately, I was better at these and scored a 2330/2400 on my first attempt.