Wednesday, January 22, 2020
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You'd better get prepared for the new SAT — NOT

An advertisement on the Baltimore Sun website, which tells me “Don’t take the SATtest” [sic] “Without reading about this secret first. You will thank us later!” leads me to the page for prepscholar.com, which then redirects me to a much longer URL, here.

On the landing page, I find a comparison of three online SAT prep courses, the other two being offered by Kaplan and the Princeton Review.

At the bottom, I read the following sentence, referring to a guarantee made by prepscholar.com to refund the full price paid if the student’s score on the SAT doesn’t increase by 240 points:

Other major test prep company only guarantee that you improve — only we have the PrepScholar guarantee of improving your score by 240 points!

I copied and pasted, just so you would believe me about the errors in grammar: The dash should probably be a semicolon, but it’s debatable. However, the word “company” should be the plural “companies” or “other” changed to “another” if the singular is intended. As written, I can’t discern the meaning. And this is the landing page.

So, I followed along and signed up, just to find out how much it would cost:

  • $399: 800+ Realistic High Quality Questions, 60+ Lessons, 30+ Skill Categories
  • $1,995: All that plus eight hours of tutoring with “an SAT expert”

Why everything is capitalized in the $399 description I have no idea. I didn’t provide my credit card, obviously, but let’s do the math. Those eight hours add $1,596 to the purchase price. That’s roughly $200 an hour.

And I’m supposed to spend this on a company whose directors can’t even write a decent English sentence!?

Sorry, Charlie! This is why Voxitatis does not accept money for advertising. It would take control away from us, and we have absolutely no intention of giving one inch of our site to companies that present themselves in an unprofessional way in serving US students.

So, all you rich parents out there, buyer beware! There are no “SAT experts,” and anyone who claims they’re one of the “SAT experts” is a liar, since the claim could not possibly be true.

The real news: Sample questions released for the SAT

The SAT is changing, as you may have heard. We wrote about it a while back, here, and now the College Board, which makes the SAT, has released some example test questions to show you what changes are in store.

The officials at the College Board say these are not actual test items but rough drafts that are expected to go through many, many revisions before they appear on a test. It’s just to give you an idea.

In a wire story from the Reuters News Service, the Baltimore Sun and the Chicago Tribune give us this math problem:

The toll rates for crossing a bridge are $6.50 for a car and $10 for a truck. During a two-hour period, a total of 187 cars and trucks crossed the bridge, and the total collected in tolls was $1,338. Write a system of equations that yields the number of cars, x, and the number of trucks, y, that crossed the bridge during the two hours.

The answer is: x + y = 187 and 6.5x + 10y = 1,338.

From the Washington Post, we get the following English language arts question:

The coming decades will likely see more intense clustering of jobs, innovation, and productivity in a smaller number of bigger cities and city-regions.

In the sentence above, the word “intense” most nearly means: (A) emotional; (B) concentrated; (C) brilliant; (D) determined. The answer is B.

Finally, the New York Times gives us several examples, including those above, from all sections of the new test (see the sidebar).

So kids and parents, save your money. The 2016 redesign of the SAT is meant not to make it easier, as several seniors and juniors are now complaining, but to make it more relevant to what students actually learn in high school.

Plus, many things in life are more important than an SAT score. As prepscholar.com tells us, out of 10 million or so people who have ever taken the SAT, only about 2,000 have received a perfect score.

Good for those 2,000, of course, but it’s not exactly a noble goal to try to be one of them by paying some excellent test-taker hundreds of dollars for a few hours of his time, which will be spent teaching you things that don’t really matter anyway.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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1 COMMENT

  1. And just today I received an email from PrepScholar. The bad grammar continues unabated … And I quote:

    PrepScholar offers a free guide to figure out what your target SAT score ought to be. This guide:

    • Teach you how to research the SAT requirements of your target colleges.
    • Gives you a worksheet for calculating a target score.
    • Tells you how to interpret that target score.

    Please stop. Stop. Just stop the bad grammar, please. I really can’t take much more of this. PrepScholar: You need to fire your PR person. Whoever it is will bring your company down. He or she has already made it a laughingstock, even among fools who think the SAT has any value at all in today’s world.

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