Standardized tests and I have always crossed No. 2 pencils.
During the 1960s, we Hoosier children took Iowa tests, though Indiana teachers already gave too many. Iowans loved math (yuck). Nobody in the test readings solved exciting mysteries like Nancy Drew.
Little did I know the SAT lurked in my future. Today, SAT cheering sections rah-rah second graders. Preparation courses guarantee not only top scores for high schoolers, but complete acne cures.
Fifty years ago, I almost forgot about the SAT.
My OC boyfriend saved the day. “Got your test ticket?”
“Um, I think so.”
“SAT’s Saturday! If you don’t take it on time, college is out!”
I rolled my eyes. “Were you born in Iowa?”
“Des Moines.” He blinked. “Why?”
No wonder we didn’t last until prom.
I found the crumpled ticket under my bed and took it to the test center.
Nowadays, kids bring laptops, caterers and masseuses. I brought two No. 2 pencils. (Has anyone ever seen a No. 1 pencil?). Also, a headache from staying out late the night before.
Reams of story problems met my bleary eyes. Sue rode trains to Detroit at 65 miles an hour. Her friend Gertrude traveled at 50 mph. These tests never asked important questions: Why didn’t they go together? Why would anyone go to Detroit? This had to be about a guy. Sure, Sue had a great body and flat-chested Gertrude, like me, read Jane Austen. That didn’t mean Gertrude didn’t deserve Kevin, the California surfer visiting his Detroit grandma.
The only answers offered: a) x; b) y; c) x + y; and d) 2,578 1/2. Heartless!
The first analogy question appeared more promising: chocolate is to vanilla as brown is to: a) fudge; b) mint; c) white; and d) 2,578 1/2. I chose b. Nothing topped chocolate mint ice cream. Sundae fantasies drifted through my mind. …
Amazingly, colleges accepted my scores. But a scholarship? Doubtful.
During my era, students took the SAT only once. I could, however, take Achievement Tests. I retired at 9:00 p.m. the night before and brought five No. 2 pencils. I banished all thoughts of trains, Sue, Gertrude, boyfriends and ice cream.
My scores moved me up the scholarship ladder. Those standardized tests proved accurate, after all.
Maybe they were clapping for me in Iowa.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Were/are you good at taking tests?