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Review: ‘The Test and the Art of Thinking’ Is About A) The SAT


From the New York Times:

“Mathematics, science, being able to use the English language: These tests don’t measure it and they don’t improve it — so why do they exist?” the president of Bard College says early in “The Test and the Art of Thinking,” a documentary about the SAT exam.

His sentiment is echoed throughout this insightful film as the director, Michael Arlen Davis, interviews dozens of exasperated students, academics and others who declare that the SAT (and the ACT) fail to accurately gauge potential, ability or creativity.

“It’s not a math test, it’s not a reading test, it’s a get-the-answer test,” says one private tutor. Together, those interviewed make a strong case against the exam and its administrator, the College Board. Yet even though they agree on the inadequacy, and even the harmfulness, of the test, few can avoid being involved with it.

Colleges, too, are shown to be stuck in a quandary: to rely less on the SAT could mean that the average score of admitted students falls. That would cause a college’s rankings to slip, which would hurt its ability to recruit students and raise money. More worrisome is evidence that high schools are caught in a cycle of their own, in which they gear curriculums toward test preparation rather than academics.

See the complete review here.