Classism by the Numbers

In conversation yesterday, I crystalized some of the many reasons why I hate standardized tests. So. Here we go: 

I’m awful at these things–both the math and verbal sections. They’ve probably kept me out of a number of universities. (And admittedly, that’s another reason why I hate them.) But before I took the GRE for grad school, I prepped with one of those test guides. I mustered my math fu the best I could. Then, while my father drove me to the testing site, I reviewed a vocabulary list in the back of the book. When I took the test, the math section was better than most math tests I’ve taken–but only slightly. The verbal section was straight from the vocabulary list. It was so easy, I felt dishonest. The logic section consisted of sentence-based logic problems and time-intensive logic puzzles. My test guide had told me to skip the longer puzzles, to fill out the sentence problems, and to return to the puzzles when I was done. So that’s what I did. But the test was on a computer, and the computer wouldn’t let me skip. So whenever I tried to move on, it gave me an easier version of the puzzle, instead. It also docked my score for its trouble. It took me a few tries to figure this out. (Talk about logic puzzles!) And by the time I learned the game, it was too late.

Bottom line: the test reported that Meggie is marginal in math, extremely verbal, and absolutely insane. And although some people might argue the case for any those designations, the GRE based them on my literacy with the vocab sheet and the test mechanics–and very little else. Oh. And there’s also the fact that Princeton developed the earliest version of the SAT as an immigration test that would keep the “undesirables” out of the country. Nice.

(Originally posted May 14, 2014)

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