What was your score on the SAT? Wait, before you answer that, just know that I earned a 239 (out of 2400). A 239. That’s a score that brought shame to my family of scholars and public intellectuals. That’s also a score that derailed any college plans I had (both the schools I applied to, Yale and www.freecollege.net, were extremely disappointed and quickly sent back rejection letters; freecollege.net’s exclusion was the biggest blow, because that was my grandpa’s alma mater) and left me with only one other viable future, which mainly consists of bumming around in search of master thespian Shia LaBeouf (see “Everybody Wears Shoes,” Volume 39, Issue 6). And even though I’m quite excited to begin The Great LaBeouf Hunt post high school, my friends and family have labeled the plan “delusional” and “is Shia LaBeouf that kid fromHoles?” Nevertheless, my score of 239 is perplexing and bewildering and other synonyms for confusing. I mean, I’ve usually been a very versatile student, receiving mainly A’s and B’s and C’s and D’s and F’s, so when I got back an envelope stating that I had I finished in the “lower .16% of intelligence” I was quite embarrassed and shocked. Over the next couple of days, I began to question everything I knew: Was I more stupider than I had previously ever assumed? Do I just not know much about many different things? Should I not have guessed William Taft for every single question? But, deep down, I knew that these weren’t plausible answers. So I started to look closer. And not long after I began my investigation, I came to a disturbing conclusion. The SAT hates people like me: White, middle class and male.
Now, I know that it may be a bit of a bold accusation to underline the SAT as a racist, class discriminating, misandrist organization, but recent statistics prove ampleevidence. In 2013, I scored a 239, whereas all other students who aren’t white middle class men scored an average of 1498. That’s a twelve hundred point difference.Coincidence? I don’t know what the word means.
Here’s a clear-cut example of the inequitable playing field: Coming into test day, I had the disservice of years and years of SAT prep classes and insightful test-taking strategies, so when I sat down to fill in the bubbles, I quickly became bored and unengaged by the assessment, because I knew, beat-by-beat, what was going to be on the test. Now, if I was only lucky enough to come from a more poverty-stricken background that couldn’t afford tutors and books and instructional DVDs, I would’ve been so surprised and intrigued by the questions that I would have excelled.
Really, you still don’t believe that I wasn’t cheated by the system? Well, how about this: On the essay portion of the test, I scored a 43 (out of 800). This, if you look closely, is pretty horrible and hard to believe. Especially considering I’m such a wonderful, well-worded writer (example: great alliteration) and I more than adequately answered the prompt, which was: “Do growth and progress make us happy or do they lead to dissatisfaction?” Here’s a little excerpt from my response, you can serve judge to its content:
… Of course I thought Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian was far superior to the original. The screenplay is crisp and tightly-plotted, the stakes have been raised and the production design is top-notch. Plus, this time-around, we, the audience, get a much deserved cameo from Cheaper By the Dozen’s Eugene Levy… (For my die-hard readers—and I know you’re out there—who wish to read the rest of my nineteen page essay, aptly titled “Ben Stiller Films in a Post 9/11 America,” you can find it on my personal blog.)
But let us not digress, for there is a far more important task at hand: The SAT’s prejudices towards marginally well-off white men. Has the problem reached epidemic levels yet? Who’s to actually say? But I do know for certain that I’m not the only one affected by their myopic grading scale. I talked to another THS Student, who asked to go unnamed (we’ll call him Calt Borton), that suffers from a very similar story. “I know it’s a conspiracy,” proclaimed Borton, who also scored in the low 200s. “I have this insider at the SAT—he wouldn’t want his name in print so… let’s just refer to him as Cort Balton—he told me that those who grade the tests watermark and deduct points from every single student who is white, comes from an average income family and subscribes to the male gender.”
Obviously change needs to come. Fortunately, over the last few months, the SAT has begun to roll out a list of alterations that would affect the test as soon as 2016. Unfortunately, no where on their itinerary reveals a desire to address the elephant in the room. So where do we go from here? Do we react to the injustice with violence? Personally, I’m a pacifist (meaning I watched all of HBO’s mini-series The Pacific in one sitting), so I don’t believe that to be a proper solution. Do we stage sit-ins and protests? Uh-uh, I don’t think so. Do we write bloated opinion pieces for the school newspaper? Of course not, nobody reads those. Truthfully, the only way to fight this bias—which extends beyond knowledge based assessments—is to just keep on striving for equality with perseverance and determination. And who knows? If we just keep our heads down and work extra hard, someday we may even have a President who is a white male and the product of an affluent background.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are not reflective of The Tumwater Talon, and are instead solely those of Colt Barton (a moron).