The Power Habit Lab
From Test Maven
I'm always telling students that "always guess C" is the dumbest piece of advice you can get for the SAT. But a wrong clock is right twice a day, and it look like students following that advice just got lucky.
A few weeks ago on March 10, after months of preparation, sharpened number twos at the ready, thousands of students sat in rooms around the country to read, write, calculate, and bubble in.
For those who'd taken practice tests, everything was as they expected. The instructions, the answer sheets, the time limits and questions types were identical to the practice versions.
But after answering the first ten questions, a creeping uneasiness began to overcome many of the students.
Ten C's in a row? That can't be right, can it?
Jana Fletcher, a junior from Mountain Pine School of Fine Arts in Louisiana, remarked, "My tutor told me not to worry if I got a bunch of answers the same in a row. It can happen, I know. But after ten C's I was pretty shaken.
"I looked back and rethought those questions like three times."
Then things got weirder.
Twenty-one questions in, Jana still hadn't found a single A, B, or D that seemed even remotely reasonable. She stole some glances around the room and noticed a few other students staring at their answer sheets in disbelief.
Students who went in well-prepared and confident were increasingly shaken and disturbed as they continued bubbling C for every single answer.
But they were right.
This morning, the College Board acknowledged that due to an error in their final proofing algorithms, every single answer on the entire test was C.
Many are calling on the College Board to invalidate the scores. Others argue that the scores need to be corrected to adjust for the psychological effect of the error.
A growing group of students are discussing a possible law suit for emotional damage.
Amazingly, even the answers to the "Student-produced response" questions (commonly known as the "grid-ins")—which are not multiple choice and require students to enter a rational number between 0 and 9999—were also all C.
Usually, a considerable number of students claim a perfect or near perfect score on the essay section. This time, only one student, Sachairi Pensak, a junior from Robert A. Plant High in New Jersey, even came close; he submitted the following essay, scoring 4/4 in two categories, and 3 in the other:
"I knew I should have written a more substantial conclusion," Pensak commented, "but I was running out of time."
Thankfully, this article is satire. But if you have a serious need to do well on the SAT, consider downloading a copy of my comprehensive guide, Master the SAT.
Just let me know and I'll send it to you. I'll follow up with more SAT info in the coming weeks.
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