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“The Test and the Art of Thinking” – In Conflict

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“The Test and the Art of Thinking,” a probing documentary by Michael Arlen Davis, explores the complicated history of the SAT and ACT, tests that still bring shivers to the souls long after they were taken (and mine were taken a long, long, time ago in a galaxy far away).

Although proponents of the SAT, the focus of the film, exclaim to the high heavens that it was never intended to be an IQ test but instead a measure of qualitative thinking, others would argue to the contrary. Originally devised in 1926 by Carl Brigham of Princeton to level the so-called playing field and measure raw intellectual ability and open colleges to those who were unable to attend the elite prep schools that were feeders to the Ivys, it was just another form of IQ test that fed into the Eugenics thinking of the day. Eugenics was a field that expounded on the racial superiority of Nordics and pointed the way toward eliminating the genetic traits of the inferior races. No doubt Brigham believed his test would find those superior beings whose genetic intellectual superiority should be identified. That the SAT is biased in terms of race, ethnicity, and cultural differences was built into it from the beginning. It is significant to note that Brigham eventually disavowed Eugenics and his research into it.

Read the full piece here.

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“The Test and The Art of Thinking” – The Unecessary Struggle to Ace an Unecessary Test

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The SAT and its cousin, the ACT, is one of, if not the, most daunting trials for students. These admissions tests are a major source of stress and pressure for those looking to get into universities of good standing, and they’re practically unavoidable. Prestigious schools seemingly only accept applicants with exceptionally high scores – thus ensuring a high ranking for themselves – and an entire industry has been built around preparing for the test. Education reform after education reform has molded high school curriculum into adhering to these tests. Filmmaker Michael Arlen Davis, in his new documentary The Test & the Art of Thinking, dives deep into the history and inner workings of the SAT to reveal what many students have probably already decided for themselves: These tests are a poor representation of one’s actual intelligence.

See the full piece here.

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“The Test and the Art of Thinking” featured on FMI Media Review Show

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The third episode of our Fall 2020 Film & Moving Image (FMI) Media-Review Show, in which FMI Chair Chris Reed chats with FMI Senior Samantha Salvemini and FMI Junior Wayne Banga about the new films Chick Fight (released November 13 by Quiver Distribution) and The Test and the Art of Thinking (released November 20 by Abramorama), is now up. This show was produced as part of Stevenson University’s Arts Alive! series of cultural programs. Enjoy! And be sure to check out the other episodes, as well.

See the full piece here.

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Film Review: A “Standardized” Test, and a Nation, Exposed in ‘The Test & The Art of Thinking’

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In this well-researched, compelling, and surprisingly human documentary The Test & The Art of Thinking, filmmaker Michael Arlen Davis takes on a Goliath of the education world: the SAT. The primary question Davis’s film aims to explore is the usefulness and validity of a test that has taken such a prominent place in American educational assessment. Davis explores the notorious exam through such lenses as history, pedagogy, sociology, economy, and democracy, without the documentary ever seeming weighed down by the sheer amount of education it offers. This film attempts to expose the complex and far-reaching behind the scenes world of a test that holds the potential to make or break countless students’ futures each year, asking audiences to question the assumptions we may have about the test so many of us have taken, but may have never really understood.

See the full piece here.